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Hamlet (Revenge)

Revenge. Revenge causes one to act blindly through anger, rather than

through reason. It is based on the principle of an eye for an eye, but

this principle is not always an intelligent theory to live by. Young

Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet were all looking to avenge the deaths of

their fathers. They all acted on emotion, and this led to the downfall of

two, and the rise to power of one. Since the Heads of the three major

families were each murdered, the eldest sons of these families swore

vengeance, and two of the three sons died while exacting their acts of

vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet.

There were three major families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These were the

family of King Fortinbras, the family of Polonius, and the family of King

Hamlet. The heads of each of these families are all slaughtered within the

play. Fortinbras, King of Norway, was killed by King Hamlet; slain by

sword during a man to man battle. "...our valiant Hamlet-for so this side of

our known world esteem'd him-did slay this Fortinbras." This entitled King

Hamlet to the land that was possessed by Fortinbras because it was written

in a seal'd compact. Polonius was an advisor to the King, and father to

Laertes and Ophelia. He was nosy and arrogant, and he did not trust his

children. He was killed by Young Hamlet while he was eves dropping on a

conversation between Hamlet and his mother. "How now! A rat? Dead, for a

ducat, dead!" King Hamlet was the King of Denmark, and Hamlet's father.

He had killed King Fortinbras, only to be killed by his brother, Claudius.

"...My offense is rank, it smells to heaven; A brother's murder..." Each of

these events effected the sons of the deceased in the same way, it enraged


Every one of the three eldest sons had one thing in common, they all

wanted revenge for a slaughtered father. In the time in which this play is

set, avenging the murder of a father was part of one's honor, and had to be

done. All of the three sons swore vengeance, and then acted towards

getting revenge for the deaths of their fathers.

Young Fortinbras was deeply enraged by the death of his father, and he

wanted revenge against Denmark because of this occurrence. Fortinbras

wanted to, by force, regain the lands that had been lost by his father to

Denmark. "...Now sir, young it doth well appear unto our

state-but to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsative, those

foresaid 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 appear'd to be a preparation

'gainst the Polack; But better look'd 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."

Laertes found out about his father's death, and immediately returned

home. He confronted the King and accused him of the murder of his father.

Claudius told Laertes that Hamlet was responsible for his father's death.

He then decides to kill Hamlet to avenge the death of his father. He and

Claudius concoct a plot to kill Hamlet. Hamlet dies of wounds from the

poisoned tipped sword Laertes used. "...Hamlet, thou art slain...The

treacherous instrument is in thy, unbated and envenom'd..."

Hamlet was deeply sorrowed by his father's death. He spoke to a ghost, and

this ghost stated that his father's death was a murder, by the hand of his

uncle, Claudius. "The serpent that did sting thy father's life now wears

his crown." Hamlet was astonished, and then swore vengeance for his

father's death. He then proceeded to try and prove his uncle's guilt, and

then finally kills him while he himself is dying of poisoned wounds

inflicted by Laertes during their duel. "The point envenomed too! Then

venom, to thy work...Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, drink off

this potion,-is thy union here? Follow my mother." This left the King

dead, and his father's death avenged.

The lack of thought used in exacting the revenge led to the deaths of both

Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes planned with Claudius to kill Hamlet with the

poisoned tipped sword, but they had not thought that the sword might be

used against them. With Laertes believing the King's accusations that

Hamlet had murdered his father, he was in a blind rage, and would not

listen to Hamlet's explanation and apology. "I am satisfied in

my revenge...I stand aloof...and will no reconcilement...But till that time, I do

receive your offer'd love like love, and will not wrong it.". He fights

Hamlet, and wounds him once with the poisoned tipped sword; but

unfortunately, their swords are switched, and Hamlet wounds Laertes with

the sword. That is the wound by which Laertes dies. Hamlet had many

chances to kill his uncle, but his rage outweighed his intelligence; and he

chose to wait until the lord could see no good in Claudius, and then strike

him down into a world of eternal damnation. "Now might I do it pat, now he

is praying;...A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do

this same villain send to heaven." Hamlet waits until he can kill his

uncle while he is performing a sin, unfortunately for Hamlet, the sin is

the poisoning of his own son in law. Hamlet dies of his poisoned wound.

Young Fortinbras regains his fathers land, without use of violence, or

death to himself. Hamlet names him new ruler of Denmark before he dies,

and Fortinbras regains all of his father's lost land, and becomes King of


Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest

sons of these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons died

while exacting their acts of vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the

Tragedy of Hamlet. As a theme, revenge was present in all parts of the

play. It seems ironic that Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet all died of the

same sword. It is also ironic that the first the seek revenge against

Claudius, Fortinbras, becomes King of Denmark. Revenge was the driving

force behind three of the main characters of the play, for two it led to

downfall, and for the other it led to greatness.

Source: Essay UK -

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