The Theme of Revenge in Hamlet Essay Example

In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet,  the titular protagonist struggles between logic and passion as he seeks vengeance after he discovers the truth behind his father's death, rooting his insanity. After his father’s ghost tells Hamlet that his true murderer now wears the crown, Hamlet plans to confirm this truth through a play. Once confirming King Claudius is the murder of his father, Hamlet decides to put up an “antic-disposition” to kill King Claudius. But Hamlet’s indecision makes him a good conductor of suffering as he intentionally and unintentionally conducts this suffering to those most near him. The suffering Hamlet brings upon his friends and foes underscores the tragic theme that revenge can lead to unintended consequences. 

Towards the beginning of the play Hamlet meets with his father’s ghost, who tells him that “The Serpent that did sting thy father’s life/Now wears his crown,” illustrating the moment in which Hamlet is struck by divine lighting (I.v.46-47).  Hamlets then decides to play an “antic-disposition” in order to avenge his father, and protect those near him such as a Ophelia, as he tells her “ You should have not believed me...I loved you not….Get thee (to) a nunery”(III.i.127,129,131). Hamlet’s attempt to protect Ophelia, who he truly loves, fails highlighting how Hamlet unintentionally conducts emotional suffering to Ophelia a clump of grass, as he denies ever loving her. The fact that Hamlet, the tragic figure, did not intend to conduct this divine lightning to Ophelia indicates that Hamlet’s indecision makes him an inevitable conductor of suffering. Although this divine lighting did not kill the clump of grass, it does demonstrate that revenge can lead to unintended consequences. 

Once Hamlet confirms that King Claudius is the serpent using a play which reacts dead King Hamlet's death, he plans avenging his father by killing Claudius, but Hamlet's indecision prevents him from killing Claudius, as he states “ Now I might do it, now he is praying..No..When he is drunk asleep, ”  strengthening that Hamlet’s indecision makes him a great conductor of divine lightning (III.iii.77,92,94) . Later Gertrude Hamlet’s mother calls upon him, where Hamlet  verbally attacks his mother as he tells her “ You are the Queen, your husband's brother’s wife. And (were it not so ) you are mother” (III.iv.20-21).

Hamlet's words are like “daggers entering [her] ears” stating Hamlet is the great tree who unintentionally conducts lighting to his mother, causing her emotional suffering; which is not part of Hamlet's revenge as his mother hands are clean when regarding his father's murder. Also during Hamlet’s and his mother’s conversation, Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius “by thrusting a rapier through the arras” thinking it was King Claudius, enhancing the theme that revenge can lead to unintended consequences. This makes Polonius another of the many clumps of grass which have been become victims of Hamlet’s conductivity, which causes suffering upon them.

After Laertes finds out about his father's murder, he returns home with a “riotous head” as he is  prepare to avenge his father's death, and coming home to realize that “poor Ophelia” has lost her peace of mind reflecting the suffering that Hamlet has cause them after killing their father, making them too victims of Hamlet’s divine lightning. Once in the castle King Claudius attempt to calm down Laertes, who responds “That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me a bastard” (IV.v.130-131) referring to his situation as fatherless, but this is not the only suffering coming Towards Laertes, soon he sees “poor Ophelia” to which he states  “Thought the afflictions, passions, hell itself she turns to favor and prettiness”(IV.v.211-212). 

Laertes anger demonstrates the emotional suffering which Hamlet strikes upon him after unintentionally killing Polonius, but this time Hamlets lightning did not strike one clumps of grass but two. Laertes does not only suffer the lost of his father but the lost of his sister, who after being struck by the tragic hero divine lightning multiple times, loses her mental peace, underscoring the them thet revenge can lead to unintended consequences, since Hamlet only wanted to protect Ophelia from the lightning. Although Laertes was able to handle his father death, “poor Ophelia” was unable to take the multiple jagger that Hamlet threw at her heart, leading to her tragic end, as “her garments, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death”(IV.vii.206-208). This shows once again how Laertes is hit by the inevitable suffering, which Hamlet unintentionally conducts towards him. But this time not only did this lightning strike against Laertes, it also reflect back to the great tree hitting Hamlet, as “[He] loved  Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not..make up [his] sum,” suggesting that the conductor himself can also become a victim of this divine lightning. 

Towards the end of the novel, Laertes challenges Hamlet to a duel, where Hamlet's death was anticipated, as he will die from a rapier whose tip was dipped in “an unction of mountebank” and nothing “can save [Hamlet] from death”(IV.vii.161,165) foreshadowing the fall of this great tree. Before the duel begins Hamlet apologizes to Laertes stating “Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong” (V.ii.240) to which Laertes response “ I am satisfied in nature, Whose motives stir me most To my revenge”(V.ii.259-260).  Hamlet's apology reveals that he unintentionally conducts this suffering to Laertes, also illustrating the theme that revenge is can lead to unintended consequences. In the other hand Laertes refuse to accept Hamlet's apology indicating that the same lightning that struck Laertes, will struck Hamlet making him a victim of the divine lightning he serves.

During their duel Queen Gertrude drinks the cup of poison wine which was meant to Hamlet, while Laertes wounds Hamlet using the poison rapier, later both Laertes and Hamlet drop their rapiers, causing mismatch and then “Hamlet wounds Laertes” and “[Laertes] falls” and the queen falls too. (V.ii. 130-135). The last lightning strikes that hit Queen Gertrude and Laertes led to there tragic death, showing how Hamlet works as an instrument to reach this clumps of grass. Hamlet’s indecision makes him a good conductors of suffering, revealing that his indecision led to the suffering of all the clumps of grass. Eventually Hamlet tells King Claudius to “Drink off this portion” forcing Claudius to drink from the poison cup, causing his death, indicating that Hamlet initially strikes King Claudius with death. This demonstrates that the Great tree eventually struck the clumps of grass enough to cause their death extinction. Hamlets the tragic hero of the play dies from the poison wound, showing that not even the conductor of lightning is safe for the divine lightning. 

Ultimately, Hamlet the great tree conducts suffering to those closest to him, illustrating the theme that revenge can lead to unintended consequences. Although Hamlet was an instrument of the divine lightning, Hamlet also fell as he became become of this same lightning. Although Hamlet has a tragic end, he achieves his goal of avenging his father “most unnatural murder”, and is “bear like a soldier.”



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