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Tran 1 Thuy Tran Dr. Lunday English 1302 18 April 2019 The Role of Revenge in Hamlet Throughout Elizabethan England and the centuries that followed, William Shakespeare was attributed to plays full of wit, humor, tragedy, and other components. However, one of Shakespeare’s most prominent plays is no other than Hamlet . Hamlet is a popular play that focuses on a prince who is trying to avenge his father’s murder. Along the way, he meets many challenges and difficulties. He deals with these by using his instincts, logic, and perseverance. However, Hamlet is centered on the theme of revenge, which is apparent throughout the play in Hamlet and other characters as well. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet , the theme of revenge fuels the story by originally spurring Prince Hamlet on his vendetta, causing him to think his revengeful actions through, causing Laertes to try and terminate Hamlet in order to avenge the deaths of his loved ones, influencing Hamlet to inadvertently kill Claudius after becoming more strong-willed in his desire for revenge, and ultimately causing Hamlet’s death. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet’s friends Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus witness a ghost sighting that sends Hamlet on his journey for revenge. Afterward, Horatio and Marcellus decide to alert Hamlet in hopes that the ghost, whom they have decided was an apparition of the recently deceased king, would not refuse to speak to his own son. When Hamlet goes to see the ghost, who is actually his dead father, tells him that it was Claudius who had killed him with
Tran 2 poison. The ghost of King Hamlet urges his son to avenge Claudius’s actions of murdering him, taking the throne, and seizing his wife, Queen Gertrude. According to Hamlet’s Problematic Revenge: Forging a Royal Mandate , “In the prince there is not a half hour’s life, not simply because he has but a few minutes left to him now, literally, because in the sum and substance of his entire career in the play since his fateful encounter with the Ghost—he vowed to ban all life and living things from human concern in favor of a foul “commandment” he remains to obey by sweeping to revenge.” (Zak, William F. 26). From the moment he heard his father’s chilling words, Hamlet felt shocked, surprised, and angry. However, after some time, he became set on his vendetta. These initial feelings of anger and hatred continued throughout the course of the play.

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