top-rated free essay

Theme of hamlet

By spongeevelyn Aug 29, 2014 850 Words
Huang 1
Ivy Huang
Vengeance in Hamlet

Time and time again, we as a complex society have recognized in many pieces of great literature the idea of man and revenge. Throughout history, the idea of vengeance has destroyed large communities, populations and entire civilizations. The problem with man and revenge is that one may be side-tracted of why or whom he is avenging. This similar idea is conveyed in the theme of Shakespear's Hamlet , "Vengeance can confuse a man's mind and soul to the point where he may not be sure of whom he is really avenging." Shakespear uses foils in this play to allow us readers to understand Hamlet as a man and why and whom he is really avenging, and Laertes and the ghost are foils for Hamlet in this play which help us readers understand his character and his actions.

Laertes was a stable-minded student who was Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother. He was a strong-willed young man whom studied over seas, was protective of Ophelia, loved his family, and kept his loyalty to King Hamlet and then to King Claudius. Hamlet and Laertes had never been friends, for Hamlet was of a higher social class. In one aspect, Laertes respected their differences and in another, it made him leary of and curious about Hamlet and his ways. Also, hamlet had feelings for Ophelia for which Laertes despised and warranted off. Although Hamlet Huang 2

and Laertes differ, Laertes acts as a stable foil for Hamlet whom makes sound decisions and acts on his words instead of just speaking. Laertes allows us readers to explore how Hamlet should have acted instead of how he did: Inactive, in a state of delay, and full of words. The moment Laertes heard of his father's death he left for Denmark, rallied up some followers, and marched past the King's guards to the Royal Court and demanded an answer. "O thou vile King, give me my father," Laertes bellowed at the King. Claudius relays to Laertes that Hamlet is to blame and once again Laertes is ready to fight. He challenges Hamlet to a dual and he immediately accepts. Why though is Hamlet so eager to bring Laertes to his death and not Claudius whom murdered his father and destroyed his family? With Laertes as a foil, we are able to question Hamlet's actions and delay of actions.

One can sense vengeance in the presence of the ghost. The ghost or the spirit of King Hamlet walks the night in order to relay a message to his son Hamlet. When the ghost approaches Hamlet he is told that Claudius murdered his father for the crown and Gertrude's hand in marriage. He is also told not to punish his mother or, "Taint not thy mind nor let they soul contrive against they mother aught. Leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, to prick and sting her." (Ghost, p. 650) Although Hamlet believed the words of the ghost, he antagonized his mother and contrived a plan to obtain evidence of these actions accused. Hamlet's plan was to contrive a play within a play for which the players would present to Claudius and Gertrude. The play consisted of a reinactment of his father's murder. Hamlet watched Claudius's reactions and discovered the ghost had not lied. Yet he did nothing. Acting as a foil, the ghost is Hamlet's conscious always reminding him of his duty and questioning the delay. Without the ghost as a foil for Hamlet we would not question King Hamlet's death and Huang 3

what opsticles Hamlet had to hurdle over during this delay. With the ghost taunting him daily by use of his conscious, Hamlet had to tear apart the truth of whom he really wanted vengeance for. Why did he delay even after the ghost visited him a second time demanding vengeance and giving one last warning about Gertrude? Why could Hamlet kill Claudius only after he had brought Gertrude and himself to death? Through foils such as Laertes and the ghost we wonder who Hamlet really is and what was at the top of his priorities list- His father's murder being avenged or his mother's.

Many critics ponder this very theme, "Vengeance can confuse a man's mind and soul to the point where he may not be sure of whom he is really avenging." Some say Hamlet was a coward and some say he was outright crazy. Others like fraudian say he may have suffered from an Oedipus complex, which made him closer to his mother than his father. If that were the case, then it would explain the delay of vengeance for his father's murder and the immediate display of vengeance for his mother's. It would also explain why Laertes was the sound mind or actor of Hamlet's spoken actions because Laertes was sure of whom he was avenging. Although many theories on this account have been made, without foils such as Laertes and the ghost, critics would not be able to induce the questions for which they have always theorized.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • themes in hamlet

    ...Themes in Hamlet Impossibility of Certainty and Delay of Action Hamlet undoubtedly takes a long time to avenge his father’s murder, and his hesitation is his tragic flaw. He spends a great deal of effort thinking and analyzing and far less acting on his dead father’s request for revenge. Hamlet’s delay of action is a direct result o...

    Read More
  • Hamlet Themes

    ...Hamlet Themes: Sanity vs. Insanity Study Guide: 1. What gives evidence that Hamlet is not really insane but just upset? The fact that Hamlet is re-enacting the murder of his father shows the readers that he is well aware of the situation and what has occurred. He is not in denial of the death, but seems to want King Claudius to feel guilt...

    Read More
  • Hamlet Theme Family

    ...Grace 1 Kayla Grace October 29, 2012 Unit 2: Family 797 words Hamlet: Family Relationships The theme, family, in The Tragedy of Hamlet is major theme with lots of major points. This play is notorious for how it dwells on the issue of incest. In Shakespeare’s time, incest was a sin against God and the state. Queen Elizabeth I asked the...

    Read More
  • Hamlet Theme Essay

    ...Meiqi Wang June 6 2014 In the play “Hamlet,” by William Shakespeare, the main theme is that followed through plans of revenge lead to tragedy. Hamlet, is the story about the Prince of Denmark’s struggle for revenge against his murderous uncle, who is now the new King of Denmark. Hamlet is stricken blind with revenge and has even ...

    Read More
  • Theme of Revenge in Hamlet

    ...In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the theme of revenge is so prominent that it could be considered its own character. The vengeance in Hamlet is essential to the development of Laertes, son of Polonius, Hamlet, prince of Denmark, and Fortinbras, prince of Norway. Revenge is an unnecessary evil causing humans to act blindly through anger rather ...

    Read More
  • Hamlet Themes

    ...Themes Revenge Deals with Hamlet’s inner struggles to take action - he delays his revenge Foils - Laertes and Fortinbras both take swift and immediate action that sets off and highlights Hamlet's infamous delay. Questions the validity and usefulness of revenge by the end of the play; while seeking revenge, both Laertes and ...

    Read More
  • Hamlet Theme

    ...Numerous themes permeate William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. However, the central conflict that Hamlet, the protagonist, faces is the difficult task of finding a balance between his thoughts and his actions. In the play’s opening act Hamlet is given the duty of avenging his father’s death. Hamlet’s father’s ghost tells him to kill his uncle,...

    Read More
  • Hamlet and the Theme of Corruption

    ...The tragedy “Hamlet” revolves around the murderous and violent actions of Claudius and his succession to the throne by slaying his brother and marrying the widowed Queen Gertrude. From these actions, the still grieving Prince Hamlet reveals a pool of corruption and deceit into which he and all those around him fall. One of the main themes of...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.