Revenge in Drama, Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 5 (2122 words) Published: May 7, 2006
"Hamlet" is a play categorized by its nature as a revenge tragedy, a categorization that was established in the 16th century at its primary production at the Globe Theatre, London. Yet, to a modern audience the idea of a revenge tragedy is no longer the main appeal. The development of characters, the mystery of death and the question over Hamlet's madness have become the new interest in the production. However, the play would cease to exist without its revengeful roots, which lured the audience in Shakespearean time making it so popular today. The combination of the subplots and revenge continue to captivate contemporary viewers but could have had many other outcomes. In having to enter and act in the world of his uncle, Hamlet himself becomes an unwilling creature of that world. When he chooses to obey the ghost's command for revenge of his murder, Hamlet accepts the inevitability that he must become part of Denmark's "unweeded garden". As the ripple of original vengeful intent widens and Hamlet is slowly but surely entangled in Claudius' brutal world through his madness, his murders, his plots, his relationship with other characters and his revelations on life and more importantly, death. Even before the ghost urges Hamlet to avenge his death, Hamlet teeters on the edge of his uncle's brutal world. Whilst never evil in intent Hamlet is simply one of the finest tragic heroes. Caught between his agony of mind and indecision Hamlet's nature is neither treacherous like Claudius' nor rash like Laertes'. This combination of values carries only tragedy when one such as Hamlet suffers such a fate as he did. Prior to his dead father's prompting, Hamlet is already devoured by melancholy over the loss of his father, the king of Denmark, and his mother's seemingly rushed marriage to Claudius. This suggests that Hamlet was already inexorably linked to his Uncle's brutal world. "It is not, nor it cannot come to good (Act1, Scene2)." Hamlet also feels jealousy towards his mother as their relationship goes beyond that of a normal parent/child relationship. Whilst perhaps not sexual, their mere fifteen years age difference has enclosed them in a very close-knit co-dependant affair. This jealousy and hatred Hamlet feels is close to pushing him over the edge, so when the Ghost commands revenge Hamlet has already positioned himself at the starting line ready to begin his descent into Denmark's brutal court. Hamlet's acceptance of the task of revenge, even if somewhat reluctant, is the key to entering Claudius' world. Hamlet himself realizes revenge is wrong and is aware that the deeds he is charged to commit can never bring about good, yet he knows he must complete them. Hamlet's intent to revenge his father's murder dooms him from the start because of his wish to catch Claudius where bystanders may also be witness to his guilt, therefore turning Hamlet from an assassin to an executioner. Although Hamlet does get his wish the price he pays is far too dear, perhaps however the death of those eight people was the only solution in Hamlet's madness. Some may say that the end justifies the means but Hamlet does become an unwilling creature of Claudius' world because as the original seed of revenge took root Hamlet could do nothing but let it grow. Hamlet's plots to catch Claudius center on his will to find out whether or not the apparition he witnessed was telling the truth. In Shakespeare's time a ghost was often regarded as a misleading spirit so in this way Hamlet's procrastination coupled with his conscience makes it understandable that he does not act quickly. "The Mousetrap," the play within the play, is Hamlet's most cunning scheme. This shows us the treachery which Hamlet is capable of, in stark contrast to his almost jovial mood at the thought of revenge on Claudius. This orchestration of a play paralleling the murder and incest his uncle committed, shows us how Hamlet has become part of the diseased world shown on the stage. We see...
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