A Comparison between Hamlet and The Revenger’s Tragedy

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Explore the presentation of crime and punishment in Hamlet with comparative refrence to ‘ The Revenger’s Tragedy’.

William Shakespeare wrote the play ‘Hamlet’ in 1602 and presented crime and punishment through the corrupted society in which they lived. This is highlighted through the character of Claudius, Hamlet and Gertrude. ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ written by Thomas Middleton similarly presents crime and punishment through characters of The Duke, Vindice, The duchess and Spurio. Crime in ‘Hamlet’ is presented and it highlights corruption within society. Many characters engage in criminal activities, Shakespeare could possibly do this to criticise those who are in higher power. The murder of King Hamlet by Claudius is the first action of criminal behaviour, filtering from the higher class down. Structurally the murder happens before the play begins but from the start of the play we can see tension and anxiety of the community. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Critics have suggested that Claudius’ criminality is “never the problem”. However it could be argued this view is not valid as it is due to his crime Hamlet wants revenge. Similarly in ‘The Revenger’s tragedy’ crime is committed by the Duke who is described as “grey haired” and “juiceless” this leading Vindice to his revenge. Women in ‘Hamlet ‘ and ‘ The Revenger’s Tragedy’ also commit crimes and punishments. In ‘ Hamlet’ Gertrude marries Claudius who is her deceased husbands brother. To Hamlet this is a perceived crime as that is his uncle, and therefore instigates his melancholy. Throughout the play Hamlet uses harsh diction to describe his mother Gertrude such as “ whore”, “ beast” and “ frailty”. This implies he has the strongest feelings for his mother. To the audience this could imply that it is not the actual crime of murder which has fuelled Hamlet’s anger but instead it is the morality of the actions which is important to characters. The ghost tells Hamlet to leave Gertrude “...
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