The Vengeance Of Revenge In Hamlet

901 Words4 Pages
The Vengeance of Revenge When a person has been wronged, often their mind immediately turns to revenge. Petty schemes to avenge oneself are very popular in modern times. But in Hamlet’s time, it was much more serious, typically involving death. Shakespeare’s Hamlet in often referred to as his greatest work. The theme of revenge prevails throughout the story, especially in the young Hamlet. But acting upon the vengeance instincts rarely leaves one in peace. It has a way of ruining the lives of those who act upon it, sometimes taking both people with it. It torments those seeking it, as well as capturing their minds. The ghost of Hamlet’s father shows an excellent example of one who is tormented by revenge. When the ghost of King Hamlet speaks…show more content…
The young Hamlet proves this true. After his father’s ghost speaks to him, he enacts a plan to destroy his uncle. He vows to remove all thoughts other than vengeance from his mind, saying, “Yea, from the table of my memory / I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, / All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past / That youth and observation copied there, / And thy commandment all alone shall live / Within the book and volume of my brain” (Shakespeare 1.5 103-108). His mind is fully immersed in his father’s task. But the further into his plan Hamlet advances, the more he seems to lose touch with reality and become solely focused on his task, claiming, “… O, from this time forth / My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth” (Shakespeare 4.4 67-68). He forfeits all his relationships with his family, friends, and his lover for the sake of this task. But he never seems to care, so long as his mission is completed. He reasons that, “…is’t not perfect conscience / To quit him with this arm? And is’t not to be damned / To let this canker of our nature come / In further evil?” (Shakespeare 5.2 73-76). He believes that he must do whatever is necessary to avenge his father, even at the cost of his sanity. Thus, revenge captures the minds of those who participate in this…show more content…
Laertes displays this part of vengeance well. Upon hearing of the death of his father Polonius, he rushes to Claudius demanding answers. When asked to calm down, he cries, “That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard, / Cries cuckold to my father, brands that harlot / Even here between the chaste unsmirched brow / Of my true mother” (Shakespeare 4.5 125-128). Laertes believes that it would be an insult to his family for him to remain calm and not try to avenge his father’s death. And when he hears that his sister Ophelia drowned in the river, he rages against Hamlet, whom he blames for both deaths. When the two former friends agree to duel, Laertes plans to kill Hamlet. During the fight, his plan succeeds in that he manages to fatally wound the young prince. But Hamlet manages to stab him with his own poisoned sword, killing him. Before he dies, Laertes says, “…The foul practice / Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie, / Never to rise again” (Shakespeare 5.2 327-329). He proves Confucius’s proverb true, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Laertes attempts to avenge his father’s and sister’s deaths, and he partially succeeds; but not without losing his own life in the process. This is another consequence of seeking vengeance: it ruins you as well. The characters in Hamlet learn how revenge is capable of torturing, ensnaring, and ruining those who choose to partake of
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