“Hamlet is the finest of all plays in the English revenge tradition” (Shakespeare, IV). The recurring theme in William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, is revenge, every character in this play wants revenge on someone else. Revenge in this play means murder. From the beginning right through until the end of the book, there are three instances where revenge is seen; the ghost of Hamlet senior wants revenge on Claudius, Hamlet wants revenge on Claudius and Laertes wants revenge on Hamlet. Hamlet is the most serious play on revenge because of all the questions asked (Shakespeare, IV). At the very beginning of Hamlet, Hamlet seniors ghost appears to his son, Hamlet and demands revenge on his brother, Claudius. Claudius murders his brother because he wants to become king, his ambition and he wants to have the Queen Gertrude as his wife. When the ghost of Hamlet senior appears to Hamlet he says, “So art thou to revenge when thou shalt hear” (1.5. Line 7).
Once Hamlet discovers that Claudius is the murderer of his father, Hamlet shall find revenge on his uncle. Also during the ghost’s appearance he tells his son to revenge Claudius’ soul in an unnatural murder, “Revenge his soul and most unnatural murder” (1.5. Line 25). Hamlet senior wants his son, Hamlet to find revenge on Claudius for his death and stealing his Queen. Now that Hamlet knows about his fathers murder and who actually caused it, he wants revenge. Hamlet wants revenge on his uncle, King Claudius for his fathers death. There are several chances that Hamlets has had throughout the play to get back at Claudius, but each time he hesitates and waits for better timing and different circumstances. During Act three, Scene three of Hamlet, Hamlet draws his sword and says to himself, “To take him in the purging of his soul,/ When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?/ No./ Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent” (3.3. Lines 85-89).
Hamlet has a chance to avenge his father, but hesitates. Later on in the play, Hamlet has another chance to kill his uncle, “Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,/ Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?/ Follow my mother” (5.2. Lines 318-320). Hamlet finally avenges his father and kills King Claudius. Finally, there is the revenge Laertes wants from Hamlet for his father’s death and his sister’s insanity. Laertes discovers Hamlet is home and wants his revenge. During act three, scene four of Hamlet, Hamlet murders Polonius, Laertes’ father and he lead Ophelia, Laertes’ sister to insanity. As Laertes was conversing with the King, he says, “I dare damnation. To this point I stand,/ That both the worlds I give to negligence,/ Let come what comes, only I’ll be reveng’d/ Most throughly for my father” (4.5. Lines 132-135).
At the point Laertes is at, he does not care what happens to himself as long as he finds avenge on his father and his sister. Laertes decides that he will wait until he is able to get back at Hamlet, he says “And so have I a noble father lost,/ A sister driven into desp’rate 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. Lines 25-29). Laertes never did get his revenge on Hamlet, as Hamlet actually kills Laertes. As it has been proven, Shakespeare’s play Hamlet has a recurring theme of revenge and each case of revenge resulted in a death. Everyone wants their revenge on someone! In Hamlet, revenge is a serious matter because of its results. Hamlet senior’s ghost and Hamlet both receive their revenge on Claudius when he is killed by Hamlet. Laertes wants his revenge on Hamlet but Hamlet kills Laertes before he gets the chance.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Oxford University Press., 2002. Print