The unpredictable course of revenge In the play Essay
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In the play, Hamlet, Shakespeare is depicting revenge as something that is inevitable and starts a chain of reaction that ends in self-destruction. In the process of revenge there are foreign agents that are also trapped as the revenge progresses. This is when the play is at its peak. The eventual result is death of everyone with the exception of minor character, which played key role in the main characters development. In this case it is Horatio, Hamlet’s life long friend.
The one common thing in the play is that the eldest son in each of the three families is avenging the death of their father.
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When Hamlet was in the process to take revenge of his father another action occurred, the killing of Polonious by Hamlet who is Laertes father. This shows how one revenge leads to another. Throughout the play Hamlet is slowed by many choices he has to make. One example is when he gets the chance to kill Claudius while he was in prayer he did not act. He did this because he wanted more than revenge that is he wanted Claudius to suffer eternally in hell. As Hamlet says, “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” (Act 3, Scene 3) There are many motives behind Hamlets revenge against Claudius. Apparently it seems that Hamlet wants only to kill Claudius but as the quote below describes Hamlet is depressed on the surface but inside him there is more trouble, because of his love of Ophelia. “How is it that the clouds still hang on you? Hamlet: Not so, my lord; I am too much I’m the sun.
(Act 1, Scene 3) Here he is trying to conceal the real reason and is feigning madness. Hamlet wants Claudius to think that he is depressed because of death of his father. Another reason for his slowness is that he has inner conflict that he is unstable about. He is asking himself should he just take what fate has for him or should he try to change it. As Hamlet says in his speech “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?
To die: to sleep (Act 3, Scene 1) This is where he is thinking about the reality of life and asking himself should he face it or not. Hamlet determination for the revenge is so intense that he is asking is life worth living. Hamlet says, “… What is a man, If his chief good and market of his time Is but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. “(Act 4, Scene 4) Here he is asking that man only sleeps and eats that is all he does in a nutshell. He wants to know if this is the kind of life worth living.
This shows that to Hamlet life is more than sleep and feed. It should be combination of more than these two things. He seems to be balancing his act of revenge against life. To him it makes sense because at least he will do something in life that is worth it, that is take revenge against his fathers death. In those days people were very religious and they adhere to their religion in every aspect of their life. That is why Hamlet does not kill Claudius right away because he wants to do it justly according to the Christian religion.
This leads Hamlet to first prove Claudius guilt by performing a mock play and telling his friend, Horatio, to observe Claudius reactions as if they are guilty or not. Hamlet gets a second chance to kill Claudius but he forfeits the opportunity. Laertes is silent in the sense of what he is doing. He is a very respected in the court of the King because before going to France he asks the King for permission. Laertes also has good morals because of the advice he gives to his sisters. But as time goes by he starts to change because he got trapped in the chain reaction of Hamlet.
Laertes life changes dramatically after his father polonius is killed by Hamlet by accident as the quote says, “How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead” (Act 3, Scene 4). Hamlet kills Polonius by accident. In the aftermath Ophelia drowns herself. Laertes and polonious have a very good relationship because he gives a fatherly advise to his son Laertes. In a way polonious also cares about his son because he sends Reynaldo to spy on him. This might seemed like a bad idea but it was normal in those days.
After the death of Polonius Laertes blames Claudius for his fathers killing but King Claudius tells him that it was Hamlet who was behind the killing. This is when the play takes another turn because Claudius makes a scheme to kill Hamlet by poisoning him. As Laertes puts it: “It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain; No medicine in the world can do thee good” (Act 5, Scene 2) This is when Laertes is talking to Hamlet and tells him that he will poison him with venom that no medicine will come to his rescue.
This shows dramatic change in Laertes attitude, which lead him to the revenge mode. Shakespeare’s implied message is that revenge is something that has unpredictable course and inevitably leads to involvement of others that are not relevant to the revenge. Hamlet only wanted to take revenge against Claudius but in the process he ends up killing Polonius. He had not in mind to kill him but circumstances lead him to a path that changed his life. This in turn has the domino affect because Ophelia drowns herself because of esoteric reasons presumably because of her father’s death.