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Hamlet - Revenge a Chain Reaction

Oct 08, 1999 900 Words
Hamlet Revenge: A Chain Reaction

 

 

In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the theme of revenge is

repeated numerous times throughout the play and involves a great deal of

characters. Of these characters, eight are dead by the end of the play by

result of murder which was initiated through revenge. Shakespeare uses the

revenge theme to create conflict among many characters.

 

 

Shakespeare uses the revenge theme to create conflict between Hamlet and

Claudius. In Act I, scene 5, Hamlet is visited by the ghost who was his

father. The ghost makes Hamlet aware of his murderous death when he tells

Hamlet of how Claudius had killed him. The ghost says this to Hamlet

regarding Claudius, "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." This is

where Hamlet is first inrtoduced to the revenge plot between himself and

Claudius. Hamlet wants to insure that the ghost really was his dead father

before he kills Claudius. To do this Hamlet has people act out the death of

his father in front of Claudius and declares him guilty by his reaction to

the play. " O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound."

Hamlet declares Claudius' guilt to Horatio and now realizes that he must

continue on with his revenge plot. The conflict between Hamlet and Claudius

is delayed by Hamlet but does eventually occur in the last scene. Hamlet's

mother has just died, Hamlet has been sliced by Laertes' poison sword, and

Hamlet has just struck Laertes with a fatal blow when Laertes says that this

was all brought on by Claudius. Hamlet, now realizing that there is no more

time for him to delay his revenge, stabs Claudus and kills him. Revenge was

the motive for the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius.

 

 

Shakespeare uses the revenge plot to create conflict between Laertes and

Hamlet by having Laertes avenge his father's and sister's death which Hamlet

is responsible for. After learning of his fathers unnatural death, Hamlet

decides that he can no longer trust anyone, except for Horatio. While acting

out his madness, he visited Ophelia and cut off his ties with her because of

his distrust for everyone. In Act III, when Hamlet talks with his mother, he

notices that he is being spied upon. Thinking that it is the king, Hamlet

mistakingly kills Polonius who was hiding behind a big rug, which for some

medeval reason, was hung on the wall. It is believed Ophelia herself went mad

because of Hamlet's rude and violent treatment of her and also because Hamlet

killed her father. In Act IV Ophelia's madness drives her to walk into the

river and drown. When Laertes arives back from France

he has heard the horrible news and says,

And so have I a noble father lost;

A sister driven into desperate terms,

Whose worth, if praises may go back again,

Stood challenger on mount of all the age

For her perfections: but my revenge will come. (4.7. 25-29)

Laertes is plotting revenge against the murderer of his father and sister,

Hamlet. Claudius asks Laertes, "what would you undertake, To show yourself in

deed your father's son, More than in words?" Claudius and Laertes come to the

conclusion that they will hold a sword duel between Hamlet and Laertes.

Laertes will have poison on his sword and Claudius will have a glass with

poison in it ready for Hamlet to quench his thirst. During the duel, Hamlet

is scratched by the poison tipped sword of Laertes. It is now inevitable that

Hamlet will die. Therefore, the conflict between Laertes and Hamlet has

resulted in revenge for Laertes.

 

 

Through the revenge theme, Shakespeare creates an interior conflict between

Hamlet and himself. In Hamlet's first soliloquy, Hamlet displays his

melancholy state of being and his unwillingness to live. " Or that the

Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!" Hamlet states

that if God was not against suicide then he would take his own life. In

Hamlet's second soliloquy, after the meeting with his father's ghost, he

beats himself up by saying,"Am I a coward...?",and,"I am pigeon-liver'd, and

lack gall". Hamlet wants revenge at this time but he is questioning his

willingness to kill Claudius, so he is calling himself a coward.

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,

That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,

Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,

Must like a whore unpack my heart with words,(2.2.584-588)

The greatest interior conflict between Hamlet and himself occurs when Hamlet

delays the killling of Claudius. Hamlet carefully examines the need to avenge

his fathers death:

A villain
kills my father, and for that,

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To heaven.

O, this is hire and salary, not revenge. (3.4.76-79)

Delaying at this point is Hamlet's tragic flaw. The conflict between Hamlet

and himself is resolved when Hamlet kills Claudius because he himself was

going to die soon and had little time left. Therefore, the interior conflict

between Hamlet and himself, was created by the revenge plot.

 

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