The Consequences of the Pursuit of Revenge in Hamlet, a Play by William Shakespeare

Revenge, which causes one to act blindly through anger rather than through reason. is based on the principle an eye for an eye. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the struggle between justice and vengeance consumes Hamlet and eventually demonstrates that the pursuit of revenge ultimately leads to tragedy. Throughout this play, Hamlet contemplates whether it is more important to seek revenge for his father, but in his efforts be a sinner or to not involve himself so that he will be able to go to heaven. Although Hamlet chooses revenge, his conscience and morals delay his actions until the end of the play where he and almost every other character die. Hamlet’s perspective of what is just changes throughout the play as he tries to fight off his conscience in order to please his father. From the beginning to the end of this tragedy. Hamlet’s motives rally back and forth between those both of revenge and justice allowing his tragic flaw to lead him to death.

Hamlet‘s quest for revenge is first introduced when he discovers the truth behind his father’s death from the ghost of king Hamlet. Hamlet is infuriated with this news and knows that it is his responsibility to right the wrong. The ghost urges him to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” and taunts Hamlet by telling him that this is his moral duty. Because Hamlet has been so depressed about his father’s death and finally has someone to blame, he quickly agrees to the ghosts request without without contemplating the consequences or complete truth. Hamlet is affected by the ghost’s command and his situation is shifted from psychological disorder before knowing the truth, to hesitation and fear to do unjust reactions to Claudius, to finally being eager and fearless to avenge the king. HIS agreement to carry out vengeance then begins the vicious cycle of hatred and death that destroys so many lives.

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It isn’t until the middle of the play that Hamlet struggles with his decision to get revenge and his tragic flaw of inaction is portrayed. As the play continues, Hamlet’s plan for revenge and achieving justice is delayed many times causing him to realize that revenge is easier said than done. Hamlet’s procrastination and second thoughts demonstrate the complexity of revenge while also illustrating his conscience and morals. He uses philosophy by asking “to be or not to be”  to try and reach a conclusion, but still finds the reasons insufficient. These lines emphasize Hamlet’s inner conflict to cope with two opposing forces operating within him which are preserving moral integrity and the need for revenge Hamlet struggles to turn his desire for revenge into action, and spends most of the play waiting rather than doing. Although he is determined to seek revenge at first, he soon begins to question whether the ghost is telling the truth. contemplates the consequences for such a sin, and desires to carry out this revenge in a moral and accepting way.

His awareness of morals is apparent, but Hamlet knows it is impossible to murder Claudius within these morals. Hamlet’s plan is delayed until the end of the play because he wants to do what is right for his father, but struggles internally deciding whether getting revenge is trulyjust. In order for there to be justice Hamlet knows that he must first prove publicly that Claudius is in fact guilty, Using his intelligence. Hamlet stages a play that portrays his father’s death to see how Claudius wtll respond. After he realizes that Claudius Is guilty he waits for the perfect opportunity to take revenge. Hamlet is given the opportunity to kill Claudius. but he feels that Claudius is not in an appropriate state for his death. Claudius seems to be praying for forgiveness when Hamlet finds him, and Hamlet feels that if he murdered him during prayer, he would dishonor his father by sending Claudius to heaven.

Hamlet says, “A villain kills my father, and for that. I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (III. lll.81), Although Hamlet seeks revenge he also understands that if he kills Claudius he will be no better than him because in order to achieve good one cannot do evil. It is not until the final scenes of the play that Hamlet realizes that he has been caught up in thought and not action. He recognizes that reason isn’t any good with idleness and knows he must begin taking more chances. He reveals his serious intent to end his indecisiveness when he proclaims. ”0, from this time forth My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

Hamlet becomes aware that his indecisiveness is due to the lack of determination to put every single aspect of his life aside and focus only on his father’s instructions. At the end of the play it isn‘t until Hamlet and everyone else is dying that he realizes that he should not have waited to kill Claudius. He finally understands the consequences of his delay and murders the King; getting the revenge he was after from the beginning. Fortunately for Hamlet, death solves his dilemma of whether he should retain moral integrity and nobility or give in to cynicism and vengeance. Because he and the other characters weren’t offered any more choices. death was left to decide their fates.

In Shakespeare‘s tragedy, Hamlet’s ideas of vengeance and justice change from his first encounter with his father’s ghost to the final death scene. Hamlet’s desire to kill Claudius at all costs consumes him and leads him to his own death as well as the deaths of many others. When the play is over. the audience is left to wonder whether Hamlet’s revenge was worth so many deaths and if justice was actually served. This tragedy may have been avoided, however, if Hamlet was able to act on impulse instead of analyzing every situation, but instead his tragic flaw forces him to use his morals to do what is right. Shakespeare uses Hamlet to portray that justice becomes corrupted when revenge is the motivator.

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The Consequences of the Pursuit of Revenge in Hamlet, a Play by William Shakespeare. (2023, May 11). Retrieved from