An Analysis of the Theme of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Play Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 4 (1370 words) Published: September 21, 2004
Shakespeare's Hamlet is a complex play where many themes are intertwined - themes that are essential to the development of the play. The issue of death and disease, both physical and emotional is very prevalent throughout the duration of the play, as well as fate and divine intervention. The play also questions madness and whether it can be feigned, as well as corruption and its moral implications. Also the 'To be or not to be' soliloquy, where Hamlet not only questions life and death, but many of life's other uncertainties as well.

However, the most important theme in the development of Hamlet is revenge and question 'Does revenge pay?' Revenge is a frighteningly bloodthirsty emotion, which causes people to act blindly and without reason. Revenge is a theme that is cleverly built upon throughout the extent of the play; with it being the driving force behind two of the main characters in the play.

The play is introduced by the appearance of the ghost of Hamlet's father in the first scene, which automatically gives the impression that something is amiss. This is later clarified by the statement; "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (I.iv). The ghost materialises before Hamlet suggesting that his death was not as natural as it may first have seemed. The ghost requests Hamlet to "Revenge [my] foul and most unnatural murder" (I.v) and points him towards the murderer with "The serpent that did sting thy father's life now wears his crown" (I.v). This indicates that King Hamlet murder was committed by his brother, Claudius, who had now taken over as King of Denmark. The Ghost taunts Hamlet, telling him that it is part of every man's honour to avenge his death. Hamlet agrees to revenge his death, but his mind is still full of many doubts, and he just thinks about what he will do, rather than actually do it. However, when the time for action comes, it is the beginning of a ferocious cycle of hatred, death and revenge, which ultimately consumes all those who...
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