Vengeance In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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As the philosopher Confucius once said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” This quote conveys the idea that those who seek or receive vengeance will fall. Shakespeare implements this idea in one of his tragedies, Hamlet. In the Shakespearean play Hamlet, a young prince becomes restless on his journey of seeking revenge after his father, the former King of Denmark’s, death. Through Hamlet’s indistinguishable state of mind and actions, Shakespeare introduces the characterization of Hamlet, not only through others’ opinions or his actions, but with a literary foil, the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras. With some traits being similar and others completely contradicting each other, it brings an understanding of both characters…show more content…
All he is doing is patiently waiting for a cue instead of taking action and being the leader that he is born to be. Though his scholarly mind gives him valid reasons to patiently wait before taking revenge, the play that is presented to Hamlet by the performers unveil unknown emotions and his flaw that will eventually cause his death. Ironically, Hamlet’s plan is constructed to trigger Claudius’ guilt, but ends up actually affecting his guilt in not avenging his father as well. In the play that is presented to Hamlet, Pyrrhus, the son of the Greek hero Achilles, travels to Troy to avenge his father’s death by killing Priam, the king of Troy. Hamlet aspires to be like Pyrrhus in the way that he is cruel to his father’s murderer and is able to avenge him quickly. Furthermore, Hamlet feels compelled by both Heaven and Hell because he feels as if his father came down asking for vengeance for his own death even though Hamlet is unable to deliver. Though Hamlet thought about killing Claudius immediately, he also thinks of the negative consequences of revenge rather than the positive ones which puts him at a standstill, “cursing like the whore he is”. As the play progresses through the plot, Hamlet experiences an epiphany after observing Fortinbras, expressing, “Why yet I live to say “this thing's to do”, / Sith…show more content…
Shakespeare writes this flat, static character to emphasize the traits which are complete opposite to the ones that Hamlet possess. As a man of pure action, nobility, and divine ambition, Shakespeare uses Fortinbras as a “framing device” through his known presence at the beginning, middle, and end of the play. A framing device is a secondary story located within the main story of the play, in this case, Fortinbras’ path to revenge. As a framing device, Shakespeare uses Fortinbras’ story to show the reader Fortinbras’s experiences in an inner story to add to the narrative as a whole, which is contrasting both of the princes to each other. In Fortinbras’ own narrative, the concept of his own divine ambition is slowly being introduced by Shakespeare, with Horatio recalling the prince as, “young Fortinbras,/Of unimproved mettle hot and full”(1.1.94-95). Horatio describes Fortinbras as a bold man, but is still peculiar about his conjecture due to Fortinbras’ lack of appearance in Hamlet. This introduction to Fortinbras gives readers an aura of suggestion as Claudius suggests, “He hath not fail’d to pester us with message/ Importing the surrender of those lands” (1.2.22-23). Claudius’ suggestion that Fortinbras is aware of the state of Denmark and its affairs shows a hint of his thirst for vengeance. Hamlet describes this thirst when, “Led
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