Revenge In Hamlet

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 701
Topics: Book, Hamlet, William Shakespeare


In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, revenge is a key theme during the entire plot. It not only lays the groundwork for almost every scene, but additionally exercises a significant influence on the story as a whole. The three primary lines of revenge in the play are Hamlet’s desire to avenge his father by murdering his uncle, Laertes’ desire to take revenge for his father’s death by murdering Hamlet and Prince Fortinbras’ ambition to regain his father’s land. These three storylines perform an inner part in introducing the audience to the idea of revenge through a series of elaborate plans to deceive each other.

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Revenge In Hamlet

Shakespeare first appeals to the revenge topic to develop the dispute between Hamlet and Claudius. In Act I, Hamlet is haunted by the ghost of his father, who tells Hamlet that he has completed his brother’s deed by murderous death. The ghost states the following things to him about Claudius, “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, I, v, 25). Thus, Hamlet first learns about the revenge plan between him and Claudius. The leading character needs to make sure that the ghost was indeed his gone father before he murders Claudius. Hamlet decides to capture the king into confessing his actions. To achieve this, Hamlet instructs people to perform his father’s death in front of Claudius and prove his guilt by his behavior, “O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound” (III, II, 281-282). Hamlet is convinced of Claudius’ guilt towards Horatio and realizes that he must carry out his plan of revenge. The Hamlet’s willingness to avenge his father is the chief motive behind the course of the action in the play.

If Hamlet carefully plans his actions throughout the play, Laertes, having learned about the murder of his parents, reacts rapidly and without hesitation. He comes back to Elsinore, demanding to depose Claudius if he does not reveal the death of Polonius. When Claudius informs Laertes that it was Hamlet’s doing, Laertes vows revenge: “Only I’ll be revenged. Most thoroughly for my father” (IV, v, 133-134). He promptly accepts to participate in the King’s attempt to kill Hamlet. Laertes conspires with the king to trick Hamlet into engaging him in a fencing duel, where Laertes will murder Hamlet with a poisoned rapier. To be more certain, Claudius equally readies a bowl of poison for Hamlet if Laertes’ sword misses its target. King Claudius and Laertes’ plan to kill Hamlet is successful, but their death comes together with it, which enhances the theme of revenge.

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If Hamlet and Laertes are two contrasting characters, Prince Fortinbras is somewhere in between. When King Hamlet murders the father of Young Fortinbras, his reaction was neither belated nor desperate. Unlike Hamlet’s reflection and Laertes’ rush, Fortinbras responds thoughtfully. Instead of overthinking the circumstances or acting improvidently, he quietly and carefully formulates a workable scheme to avenge his father’s death and regain his lands. He gathers an army and prepares a campaign against Denmark. The Prince deceives the King, telling Claudius that his army is only passing through Denmark and that he has no interest in invading it. He appears, coincidentally, soon after the brutal massacre at Elsinore. It is no accident that Fortinbras, who acts wisely and resolutely, is the only one of the three characters in the play to stay alive. Shakespeare employs Fortinbras to show that it is prudent, reasonable actions that lead to the most significant outcome.


Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras are three men who find themselves in similar circumstances, but react to them in radically contrasting ways. Hamlet, who acts calmly and with much consideration, and Laertes, who acts with immediate rage, are complete opposites. Instead, Fortinbras’ rational, purposeful behavior represents an eventual perfect blend of these two manners. Although they all differed for the most part, they included one general feature: conspiring to capture one of their opponents. In this way, Shakespeare’s skillful use of personification highlights the part of human nature that provides us with the instinct to search for revenge, and reveals how various answers to that feeling can have dramatically divergent consequences. Shakespeare presents revenge as a chain reaction that starts with a hidden agenda.

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