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Hamlet Essay
HAMLET ESSAY

A revenge tragedy was a popular form of writing during the Elizabethan age, in this form of writing the main character is directed by a ghost of his murdered father or son and the ghost inflicts retaliation, amongst a powerful villain. Revenge tragedies usually include the following; violence, bizarre criminal acts, insanity, a hesitant protagonist, and the use of soliloquy. Thus Hamlet becomes a Revenge of Tragedy it follows all the guidelines and in some cases go above and beyond.

Revenge tragedies have been pretty popular, because of the fact that everyone deep down can understand at one level, its something that we all understand and respond to even if it be imaginatively because we can’t carry out such a vengeance our selves. The basic outline in a revenge tragedy goes as follows: The avenger in this case Hamlet assumes the responsibility early on in the play to avenge the death of his father, and from there he spends much of his time overcoming obstacles, weather this may be uncovering the identity of the murderer or chasing the murderer or collecting clues that lead him to the villain. This may cause a whole lot of action and a whole lot of excitement, and then it concludes with the avenger taking out the act of revenge, however the revenge must be carried out in the most appropriate fashion, handing the villain over to the authorities may not be satisfying. This is a very old formula that still works today, it can sum up a number of western movies, and if it’s done well it can lead to a lot of success at the box office.

Hamlet is a very popular example of a revenge tragedy, yet still a very extreme case of a revenge tragedy, extreme in the sense that the web of revenge spiraled out of control, and caused a vary tragic ending with the lives of many key figures throughout the play lost due to revenge. Shakespeare may have tried to teach a lesson throughout the play using the theme of revenge, he may have tried to show that revenge is just a pointless act and can hurt and endanger the lives of many people.

The very theme of revenge starts in the beginning of the play, once Hamlet was notified of the ghost that resembled the late King Hamlet by Horatio. When Hamlet and the ghost met, the ghost spoke to him telling him that he was indeed the spirit of the late King Hamlet and his father. Hamlet was revealed that none other than his uncle murdered the late king and was ordered to seek revenge against Claudius, the man who took his throne and in the process taking his wife Gertrude. Hamlet then devotes himself to avenging the death of his father, but since by nature Hamlet is very thoughtful he delay’s the avenge of Claudius. However as he delays the revenge he goes through a deep state of depression and even madness.

The delay that the audience and Hamlet experience shows the hesitation of the protagonist, this is another quality one must look into, when determining weather a play is a revenge tragedy. However some critics have said that there is no delay, but for those that have argued that there is a delay they try to prove this by saying that if there was no delay, there’s no play and if the revenge is supposed to be the final action of the story the play will only last a mere five minutes. Hamlet also constantly calls attention to the delay he always worries about it, thus the issue of the delay is raised within the play itself. The theme of revenge continues after the play with in the play, at this point both Horatio and Hamlet were sold on the fact that Claudius did in fact murder Hamlets father, so as Hamlet goes to kill Claudius he finds him praying, and because he believed that killing Claudius while he was praying is going to result in him going to heaven he decides to wait. Hamlet then confronts his mother with Polonius hidden behind the sheets, and Hamlets hears a noise from the drapery he thought it was Claudius hiding so he moves up and stabs him through the fabric and kills him.

The death of Polonius caused Hamlets lover Ophelia to commit suicide and her brother Laertes the son of Polonius to come to Denmark from France seeking revenge for his father. Laertes was convinced by Claudius saying that the murder of Polonius was because of Hamlet’s madness and the blame should be on him. At this point in time the web of revenge now included Hamlet against Claudius and Laertes against Hamlet. Claudius then constructs a plan for Hamlets death and he uses Laertes desire for revenge against Hamlet as the main focal point, the plan was to have Laertes and Hamlet duel it out in a fencing match, however Laertes sword would be poisoned so that if he cuts him Hamlet would be poisoned but just incase Laertes was unable to draw blood Claudius devises a back up plan, he decided to poison a drink which he would then give to Hamlet to drink if he were to get the first or second hit of the match. However all of this backfired Hamlet won both the first hit and second hit of the match but declined the drink instead his mother Gertrude takes the drink and she slowly starts to die. Laertes eventually draws blood via a cheap shot at Hamlet but he was not effected immediately by the poison, Laertes is eventually wounded by his own sword and reveals to Hamlet that the Claudius is responsible for Gertrude’s death, Hamlet then goes after Claudius and stabs him with the poisoned sword and the rest of the poisoned drink Claudius then dies, and Hamlet dies right after he gets his revenge. From here Fortinbras enters and with one thing in mind to get revenge on his dead father who was killed by Hamlets father, as he walks in he sees the whole royal family lying dead on the floor.

Hamlet is therefore seen as a revenge tragedy due to the tragic ending to the story with almost every significant person dies due to the vengeance of the king.

Word Count: 1,056
Bibliography:
Mabillard, Amanda. "The Revenge Plot of Hamlet." 13APR2008 <http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/revengehamlet.htm>.

"Revenge Tragedy Criticsm." 13APR2008 <http://www.enotes.com/literary-criticism/revenge-tragedy>.

Glossary. Gale. 13 Apr 2008 <http://www.galegroup.com/free_resources/glossary/glossary_qr.htm#r>.

Johnston, Ian. "Lecture on Hamlet." 13APR2008 <http://www.mala.bc.ca/~Johnstoi/eng366/lectures/hamlet.htm>.

Gill, Roma. Hamlet. 2. Oxford, New York: 1992.

Bibliography: Mabillard, Amanda. "The Revenge Plot of Hamlet." 13APR2008 <http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/revengehamlet.htm>. "Revenge Tragedy Criticsm." 13APR2008 <http://www.enotes.com/literary-criticism/revenge-tragedy>. Glossary. Gale. 13 Apr 2008 <http://www.galegroup.com/free_resources/glossary/glossary_qr.htm#r>. Johnston, Ian. "Lecture on Hamlet." 13APR2008 <http://www.mala.bc.ca/~Johnstoi/eng366/lectures/hamlet.htm>. Gill, Roma. Hamlet. 2. Oxford, New York: 1992.

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