Theme of Revenge in Hamlet

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In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the theme of revenge is so prominent that it could be considered its own character. The vengeance in Hamlet is essential to the development of Laertes, son of Polonius, Hamlet, prince of Denmark, and Fortinbras, prince of Norway. Revenge is an unnecessary evil causing humans to act blindly through anger rather than through reason. Referring as far back as Hammurabi’s idea of “An eye for an eye,” revenge is merely a chain of wrongdoings stimulated each time by a reciprocated act of evil. Revenge is set to conquer anyone who comes to seek it.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet while there is the theme of revenge, that theme is divided into two separate entities. There is Laertes’ active seeking of vengeance and “Hamlet’s inner struggle to take action.” (Shmoop 1)

Laertes is extremely quick to take action to avenge the murder and suicide of his only remaining family. Returning home from an adventure for his own educational purposes, Laertes learns of his father murder by a sword through a tapestry. Upon arrival, Laertes finds his delusional sister, Ophelia, too involved in her songs of “Hey nonny, nonny” to really understand anything happening at that moment. Ophelia drove herself to an actual insanity from death of her father, or perhaps the rejection of Hamlet. Hours later, Ophelia is found in a pond after she committed suicide. Laertes wishes to seek revenge on Hamlet for his direct and indirect cause of his family’s deaths.

Claudius is now also presented with his chance for his own revenge against his nephew, or his son in accordance with his incestual marriage. However, Claudius is only seeking “revenge” for fear of being found out, and hides his cowardice by helping Laertes kill Hamlet.

Hamlet is a completely different example from Laertes. Through his father’s ghost, Hamlet is given the task of avenging his father in his untimely death. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” (Act I, Scene iv, Shakespeare)...
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