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Hamlet essay

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

It is commonly said that if you play too close with the fire, you are going to get

burned. This generally means that if you live a dangerous lifestyle, then you will

eventually falter and suffer the consequences. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are many

cases where characters are killed because they lived a murderous lifestyle. Claudius

murders his own brother and is then murdered himself. Laertes kills Hamlet but is killed

himself before Hamlet dies. Hamlet murders Polonius and Laertes avenges his father by

killing Hamlet. The lives and deaths of these three individuals are inextricably

interwoven. Their destinies are forged by the others actions. To attempt to separate the

life and death of each separate character would be impossible because their destinies are

so closely tied together. Each one's destiny is determined by the actions of not only their

life but also the reactions of others.

Claudius, King Hamlet's brother, desires to have more power than he currently

has. He devises and executes a plan to murder his brother, the king by placing poison in

the sleeping man's ear. The king dies from the poisoning, and Claudius exclaims that the

king must have been bitten by a snake and died from the venom. "The serpent that did

sting thy father's life now wears the crown." (p 29) It is the perfect crime except that

young Hamlet gets wind of the evil deed from the ghost of his father. Hamlet is told that

the only way to put his father's soul to rest is to right the crime that was committed. So

Hamlet sets his sights on proving that Claudius murdered his father. Hamlet devises an

ingenious plan to trap Claudius. He rigs a play to portray the same murder that Claudius

commits. "You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife" (p 79)

Claudius is very shaken by this and stops the play. Later on, Hamlet is speaking to his

mother and chasticizing her on her inappropriate behavior. Polonius, Alert's father, is

listening in on the conversation from behind a large tapestry. When Polonius speaks,

Hamlet send his sword through the tapestry and kills the old man. Claudius and the

queen send Hamlet away. After many trials, Hamlet returns to Denmark. He is

challenged by Laertes to a duel. Hamlet does not know, however, that Laertes and

Claudius are planning to kill him. Laertes cuts Hamlet with a sword containing a lethal

poison, thus condemning Hamlet. "A hit, a very palpable hit." (p 142) Hamlet then

plunges his sword through Laertes. Laertes admits that the king had planned to kill

Hamlet. Upon hearing this, Hamlet kills Claudius before death finally takes him too.

In Hamlet's case, he devotes his own life to destroying Claudius. He accidentally

kills Polonius in the process. Hamlet lives quite recklessly and doesn't pay close

attention to his surroundings. For his crimes of murder, Hamlet pays the ultimate price as

God takes his life from him. Hamlet lived a life of murderous treachery. He lived to kill

his uncle. And because of the way that he has chosen to live, he dies.

Claudius murders his own brother the plans to murder Hamlet much the same

way. He lives a live of deception and trickery. In the end, Claudius is turned in my his

own follower, Laertes. Claudius suffers the worst death of the three people because he

must watch his wife die at his own hand, and he can do nothing to stop her death. He

lives his whole life leading people on and controlling them and is deceived himself in the


Laertes decides to get revenge for his fathers death. He teams up with Claudius,

so they can take Hamlet down together. So after stealing the life from Hamlet, he realizes

that he shouldn't have listened to Claudius. Unfortunately it is too late for him because

Hamlet stabs him and kills him.

All three of these deaths are directly related to one another. They are all

interwoven incidents that cause one another to occur. All three people chose to live a

violent lifestyle and all died because of this choice. In life, out destinies are determined

by the way we choose to live. If you live a dangerous life, you may die soon. All of our

lives are interwoven in to the fabric of life. One bad thread messes up everything.

Source: Essay UK -

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