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Hamlet and Revenge
Revenge always leads an individual down a path of destruction. It is a horrible trait for one to posses; it triggers many different emotions, which causes one to act blindly. Revenge can reflect on the principle an eye for an eye. In Shakespeare’s playwright Hamlet, the play demonstrates revenge according to the self-fulfilling prophecy; seeking revenge can lead to complete tragedy within the following main characters. Hamlet, Laertes and Young Fortinbras, shared a common goal; this was to avenge the deaths of their fathers, revenge was their main motive among all three characters. Considering they were the eldest of their family, it was up to them to prove their manhood by protecting their family prestige. This led some characters towards tragedy, while it led others towards greatness. Hamlets’ act of revenge cost him his own life, as well the lives of other victims. The reason many of the events that occurred in the play was due to the murder of Hamlet’s father King Hamlet, by his uncle Claudius the current King of Denmark. With the tragic loss of his father, Hamlet swore that he would have revenge on his uncle for killing his father. This is clearly demonstrated when Hamlet says: “Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge (Hamlet I.v.29-31). This quotation show, that Hamlet is determined to seek revenge, it also shows the amount of respect and value he had for his late father; however, Hamlet did not believe in violence. This is why before planning his revenge against Claudius; Hamlets’ deep thinking provoked him to put on a play “The Mousetrap” before he jumped into conclusions. He states this as he says the following: “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King (Hamlet.II.ii.531-532). Although, Hamlet believes the truth about his uncle, he hesitates and holds back in making his move. This was the major consequence of his death; the delay of Hamlet’s act of revenge led him to his tragic fate. Hamlet received an opportunity to attack Claudius and kill him, when Claudius was praying and confessing to god. However, he does not take advantage of this opportunity. As he watches Claudius confessing his sin, Hamlet talks to himself: “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; and now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven; and so am I revenged. That would be scann'd: A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (Hamlet III.iii.73-78). Hamlet holds back yet again, to have his revenge upon Claudius, the reason for this could be due to the fact that Hamlet fears the consequence, following the murder of Claudius. Hamlet constantly postpones his revenge, due to his over analyzing and over thinking. He did not believe in violence, his self-conscience also was a factor. In the end, Hamlet was a man a lot of thought and little action; this is why he lost his life to revenge and fear. Laertes’s motive was similar to Hamlet’s as well; however, they were very different in dealing with their role as avengers. Laertes decisions were made too quickly, he let his emotions control him; this forced him jump to conclusions without thinking the situation through. This is illustrated when he speaks of his revenge for his father’s murder: “"I dare damnation: to this point I stand, that both worlds I give to negligence, let come what comes; only I'll be revenged most thoroughly for my father" (Hamlet.IV.v.135-137). Laertes reacts immediately, by speaking of revenge, with no further thought at all. Once, Laertes was aware that his father was murdered by Hamlet; he felt that Hamlet needed to be killed in order for Laertes to have his revenge. As Claudius speaks with Laertes regarding revenge on Hamlet, he says: “Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake, to show yourself your father's son in deed more than in words?” (Hamlet.IV.viii.124-126). Laertes does not hesitate to answer, Claudius’ question as he responds: “To cut his throat i’ the church” (Hamlet.IV.v.126). Laertes, would like to cut Hamlet’s throat in church, this shows that Laertes has only one main intention, this is the death of Hamlet. However, Hamlet did not murder Claudius while he was praying. It has clearly portrayed how the two characters differ despite their common circumstances. The short amount of period Laertes is with Claudius, he manages to influence Laertes very quickly. Although Hamlet apologizes to Laertes regarding Polonius’ murder, regardless of Hamlets apology Laertes still felt the need to avenge his father’s death. He says the following to Hamlet regarding his honor: “I am satisfied in nature, whose motive, in this case, should stir me most to my revenge: but in my terms of honor I stand aloof; and will no reconcilement, till by some elder masters, of known honor, I have a voice and precedent of peace, to keep my name ungored. But till that time, I do receive your offer'd love like love, and will not wrong it” (V.ii.244-252). This shows that, Laertes was not in the right state of mind, his heart was set on killing Hamlet, and he was willing to go to any extent into fulfilling it. Laertes also, poisoned his sword little was he aware of the fact that it could harm him as well. This is what brought Laertes’ life to an end, his sudden action without thought cost him his own life. Young Fortinbras was a Prince willing to pay anything so that he may gain his revenge on Denmark. This is because his father was killing by King Hamlet, in a battle against Denmark for a piece of land. Since that day, Fortinbras was determined to have his revenge at any cost. Over the years, Fortinbras thought over his plan and decided that he was willing to battle against Denmark for a small piece of land. However, when Fortinbras runs into Hamlet he tells the Prince the following: “"Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats will not debate the question of this straw: this is the imposthume of much wealth and peace, that inward breaks, and shows no cause without why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir” (IV.iv.25-29). Fortinbras was willing to risk over 20,000 lives for a piece of land that was not worth a lot. This shows his determination and ultimate goal that he is ready to give anything to gain what he believes he deserves. Fortinbras main intention was to battle Denmark for his father has lost land and kingdom. As he speaks with Horatio he states the following: “I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, which now to claim my vantage doth invite me” (V.ii.389-390). He claims his rights over the kingdom, and speaks out once he thinks everything through. Fortinbras used his time wisely and perfected his plan before he made a move to attack. Once he realized the royal family was destroyed he did not rejoice, he was saddened by their fate. This is stated when he says: “For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune” (V.ii.388). In the play Fortinbras represent a more logical and thoughtful type of man that takes action at the right time. This benefits him as well as spares his life; the right amount of patience gained him his reward and ultimate goal. In conclusion, one of the major themes in this play shapes up the plot. Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras were within the same circumstances however, they approached it in a different manner. This resulted the fate of the three characters, Shakespeare portrays the consequences of revenge and how it can destroy an individual. The principle “an eye for an eye” has been clearly demonstrated in Shakespears most famous tragedy.