Shakespeare's Hamlet: Murder vs. Mortality

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Murder Versus Morality in Hamlet

Throughout the sixteenth century, many of Shakespeare's most famous plays, including Hamlet, were tragedies that readers could feel strong emotional connections with. Because of the popular infatuation with these plays, audiences were heavily attracted to the Globe Theater with the desire to see these plays preformed. In modern-day literature, Hamlet is still appreciated and still holds an equal appeal however, audiences are no longer solely attracted to the ultimate tragedy itself, but rather the play's many hidden subplots and the uncertainty of Hamlet's madness. Along with the obvious tragic components, there are other driving factors that make Hamlet such a multidimensional play. The factor that drives Hamlet's desire to murder Claudius is heavily questioned, providing a debate on whether Hamlet's eagerness to avenge his father is due to a bloodthirsty desire for revenge or because of a moral obligation to bring his father justice. Though there are respectable arguments to both sides of the debate, there is an overpowering amount of detail that suggests Hamlet did in fact act on moral values. Many of the characters in Hamlet have blatant views of revenge that are evidently expressed throughout the play are all lean towards the justification of revenge in an obligation of righteousness. King Hamlet's ghost says to his son, “if thou didst ever thy dear father love” then he needed to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” (Act I, scene five) which leads Hamlet to believe that the only way to honorably avenge his father's murder is to kill Claudius. Even Claudius in Act IV scene five says to Laertes (in regards to killing Hamlet) “Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of sorrow, a face without a heart?” in which Laertes replies, “That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard, cried cuckold to my father.” These exchanges suggest that it is a common belief that revenge is justified and...
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