Justice in Hamlet

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Hamlet, a timeless tragedy written by literary mastermind William Shakespeare, has puzzled scholars for decades. Hamlet, who is arguably the most enigmatic character in English literature, is a vividly thoughtful young prince who conspires revenge on his uncle Claudius for the murder of his father King Hamlet. Hamlet becomes obsessed with achieving this justice for his father's death, a duty he views as noble, but he quickly comes to realize that carrying out the murder is not as simple a task as he originally thought. As evidenced by events that unfold that result in the death of many of his friends and family, and also himself, a sense of justice can become easily warped and corrupted when revenge is the motivator.

Hamlet's quest for justice is first introduced when he is visited by an ambiguous ghost who claims to be his father, the former king. The ghost tells Hamlet the details of his murder, including that his uncle Claudius is the culprit. Hamlet, shocked and angry, avows to avenge his father's death. He swears he will forget all of the fond memories he had of his uncle Claudius, saying, "from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all trivial fond records" (Act 1, Scene 5). He replaces these memories with a tarnished image of Claudius as a murderer, and resolves that, in order for justice to be guaranteed, Claudius must also be murdered. However, despite becoming infatuated with this revenge, Hamlet delays multiple times in killing Claudius. His initial delay was to prove Claudius' guilt, which he does so by staging a play that reenacts King Hamlet's murder. A perfect opportunity arises later for Hamlet to carry out his revenge, but Claudius is confessing his sins, which conflicts with Hamlet's idea of true justice: he does not want Claudius' soul to go to heaven after his death. Instead, he decides to wait to murder Claudius until after he has committed a sin. Although these actions seen to indicate Hamlet's infatuation with perfecting the time and...
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