Revenge is defined as “a desire to do harm in return for a wrong; returning evil for evil; vengeance” (Webster Dictionary). Revenge is very powerful and, in most instances, can cause more harm than good. Sadly, it is something people will encounter in their everyday life. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, several of the characters feel the need to get revenge on others in order to to restore their family honor. Revenge plays a huge role in the character development of Fortinbras, Hamlet, and Laertes. All three men seek revenge for the murder of their fathers. Fortinbras redeems his father’s lost honor by gaining territory; Hamlet must avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius; and Laertes must avenge his father by getting revenge on Hamlet. Each character is driven throughout the novel by this burning desire for revenge.
Hamlet is tasked with retaliating for his father’s murder. However, he faces a dilemma: should he believe in the honesty of the ghost? For all he knows, the ghost might be a devil. Because his first instinct is to be a truth-seeker, his first step is to evaluate the truth of the ghost’s command, but this self-examination causes delay. Moreover, his extreme depression at his mother’s detestable remarriage, and the fact that Claudius was elected king, has served to make him sarcastic and disbelieving. A chain of circumstances provides a series of obstacles that Hamlet first has to overcome in order to achieve his revenge. This however, affects Hamlet on a spiritual level, as he accepts that both good and evil exist in the world, and that there is a fitness in performing his duty of revenge. His nobility and balance is at constant war with each other from the beginning to the end of the play. The ethical concerns Hamlet has for Claudius and Gertrude are plain to see, at the time, the church considered marriage to a sister in law tantamount to incest.
Hamlet’s ethical concerns surrounding his mother’s sudden remarriage is overtly expressed when Gertrude asks Hamlet at her wedding, If it be, why seems it so particular with thee? Hamlet disputes Gertrude’s charge that he is being hypocritical, Seems, madam? Nay, it is, I know not ‘seems’. For him, she is the one who has shown hypocrisy and he does not agree with her ‘seems’ Whereas, Hamlet’s social concerns for Denmark is purely centered around the king and the influence he might have on the rest of the kingdom. Hamlet makes use of an ambiguous pun that depicts his dislike towards Claudius’s insincerity and Claudius’s attempt to polish over what has happened. Hamlet displays clear hostility, A little more than kin, and less than kind, Hamlet is more than close in relationship to Claudius (an uncle and a ‘father’), but He resents him and has no feelings of liking and kinship for Claudius.
Although deeply sorrowed by his father’s death, he did not consider payback as an option until he meets with the ghost of his father. The ghost tells Hamlet King Claudius, his own brother, murdered him. The ghost then tells Hamlet to revenge his foul and most unnatural murder (I.v.25). Although murder was an acceptable form of revenge in Hamlet’s time he is uncertain about killing Claudius. However, upon his fathers command, Hamlet reluctantly swears to retaliate against Claudius. Hamlet does this not because he wants to, but because his father makes it clear that it is his duty as a son. Hamlet promises to prove his love and duty by killing Claudius.
Young Fortinbras was deeply angered by the death of his father, and he wanted revenge against Denmark, due to this occurrence. Fortinbras wanted to regain the lands that had been lost by his father to Denmark. “Now sir, young Fortinbras as it doth well appear unto our state-but to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsive, those aforesaid lands so by his father lost” Claudius sends messengers to talk to Fortinbras’ uncle, the new King of Norway. He forbid Fortinbras to attack Denmark, and instead convinced him to attack the Poles to vent his anger. “His nephew’s levies, which to him appeared to be a preparation against the Polack; But better looked into, he truly found it was against your highness. On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys, receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine, makes vow before his uncle never more to give the assay of arms against your majesty.”
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