Summary: Revenge Portrayed In Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet

People tend to seek revenge from a person or a group of people when they can’t keep up with the humiliation and decide to take the task of teaching people a lesson without leaving things to God to handle. In Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare the theme of revenge is portrayed all throughout the beginning and the end of the play. Three of the main revenge plots within the play are Hamlet's goal to take revenge on Claudius for his father's death, Fortinbras goal to take his revenge from Denmark, and Laertes' goal to take revenge from Hamlet for Polonius’s death.

In the play, Hamlet is determined to take revenge on his uncle Claudius for his father’s death. When his father died, Hamlet wasn't sure if Claudius had actually killed his father or not but once he encounters the ghost of his father at night, he finds out that Claudius did intentionally murdur his father.

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“Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”. In this quote, the ghost tells Hamlet that he was actually murdered and he orders Hamlet to take revenge on the person who did this sinful act. At this moment, Hamlet doesn't know who murdered his father but he soon finds out once the ghost says that the person who wears his crown on his head killed him. When Hamlet finds out about how Claudius murdered his father he becomes outraged and mad so he starts to plan out ways in which he can take revenge on Claudius.

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Hamlets character starts to develop after he meets the ghost because at the start of the play he was not as confident and he was unsure about the cause of his fathers death but once he meets the ghost he feels determined and sympathetic for king Hamlet. He decides to make a play about how a brother kills his own older brother and marries his sister-in-law and he decides to show it to everyone during a event just so that Clauduas can confess that he murdered King Hamlet. “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; And now I’ll do’t. And, so he goes to heaven; And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father; and for that,I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven.” In this quote, Hamlet decides to kill Claudius because he is alone praying at that time but Hamlet stops since he realises that if he kills him while he is praying, then he will eventually go to heaven. Hamlet’s goal is to kill Claudius when he is doing something sinful just the way Claudius killed his father in the middle of his sinful life. He then plans to wait for the perfect moment to take revenge on Claudius because he wants to succeed in his plan . “Here, thou incestuous, muderous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother.” This quote is said by Hamlet when he finally kills Claudius by stabbing him with the poisoned sword almost at the end of the play. Hamlet eventually also dies at the end of the play right after he achieves revenge on Claudius which shows that revenge can cause many consequences such as death.

Another example of revenge that occurs in the play is when Laertes plans to seek revenge on Hamlet because Hamlet murdered his father Polonius. Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius when he was talking with his mother Gertrude about how Claudius murdered his father and he also wanted to confess to her that she is also at fault for marrying Claudius. Gertrude feels that she is unsafe with Hamlet during their conversation so she calls for help and Polonius responds since he was behind the tapestry. Hamlet thinks that Claudius is in the room secretly listening to their conversation so he kills Polonius before he could even lift the tapestry up to find out who was actually behind it. “ Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better; take thy fortune: Thou find’st to be busy is some danger. Leave wringing of your hands: peace!”. In this quote Hamlet lifts up the arras and realises that he has killed Polonius instead of Claudius. Hamlet does feel upset for what he did but he still decides to carry on his conversation with Gertrude before hiding Polonius’s dead body which shows that he does not actually feel guilty for his terrible act. “ I dare damnation: to this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence, Let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged, Most thoroughly for my father.” In this quote, Laertes finds out about his father's murder and he starts to feel angry and depressed because of this upseting news. He doesn’t care about anything else but to take revenge on Hamlet for killing his innocent father. He also plans to take revenge on Hamlet for Ophelia's death because it was all because of Hamlet's madness that ended up taking his sister’s life. ' No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize; Revenge should have no bounds”. This quote is said by Claudius when Laertes tells him that he would seek revenge on Hamlet no matter what happens to prove his love for his father. Laertes believes that there should be no limits to revenge and the king agrees with Laertes because now he can use Laertes in his plan to kill Hamlet. “ Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric: I am justly kill’d with mine own treachery.” In this quote, Laertes realizes that taking revenge was an immoral act and that he will eventually die as a consequence of his own attempt on taking revenge on Hamlet. Therefore Hamlet has committed a very big crime by killing Laertes father since he has killed a father of a son while he is the son of a father murdered.

The last example of revenge from this play is when Fortinbras took revenge from Denmark. Fortinbras is determined to honor his father’s loss by gaining the territory that was rightfully theirs and that King Hamlet had taken over from them in the past. Another reason why Fortinbras takes revenge is because king Hamlet killed his father in the past so he wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his fathers honour. “Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full, Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there, Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes”. This quote is said by Horatio to Benardo and Marcellus after they see the ghost for the first time. Horatio says that the appearance of the Ghost might be a warning of a possible war that can occur with Norway over the lands lost in the battle with King Hamlet and Denmark. This quote talks about the major themes of the play which is revenge. Fortinbras wants to take revenge on Denmark for the death of his father by creating an army that could invade Denmark. In this quote, we get no know that Fortinbras is a young man that is quick in taking action to get revenge on those who killed his father. Hamlet has taken a longer period of time to take revenge on Claudius where as Fortinbras quickly seeked his revenge. “ On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice; So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less, Which have solicited. The rest is silence.” In this quote, Hamlet who is dying says that he will not live to hear the news from England but he believes that Fortinbras will win the election to the Danish crown. Hamlet also gives his vote to Fortinbras as he dies. At the end of the play, Fortinbras is the only character who benefits from seeking revenge because he does it in a more noble manner and he doesn't take actions without thinking . Therefore, Fortinbras’s way of taking revenge was really distinct from the way Hamlet tried to seek revenge because Hamlet seeks revenge without thinking too much about his plans. Fortinbras does it more quicker than Hamlet and succeeds in the end by doing so.

Revenge has been portrayed from the beginning of the play to the end by showing the different types of ways in which Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes tried to take revenge on each other. Revenge is immoral because it increases anger just like it did to Laertes when his Polonius and Ophelia died, but he eventually regrets it after killing Hamlet and asks for forgiveness for what he did before he dies. Hamlet also went through a lot of stress ,trouble, and thinking just so that he can kill Cluadius but he also eventually dies at the end. Almost everyone suffered in the play because of revenge which shows that revenge can be harmful and devastating at times for anyone involved in it and the play gives a message that people should just refrain from talking revenge and leave everything to God to handle.

Updated: Feb 14, 2024
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Summary: Revenge Portrayed In Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet. (2024, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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