Theme Of Revenge In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the lust for revenge forces characters to appeal to their nature or their honor. After learning of his father’s death upon returning from Wittenberg, Hamlet dons the mask of madness and contemplates a means of exacting revenge against Claudius. While Hamlet ponders the ethereal consequences of murder and revenge, his constant self-reflection paralyzes him from taking action. On the other hand, Laertes, a loving brother and civil son, finds himself in the same situation as Hamlet: Laertes leaves for France only to return and discover that his father has been murdered. However, Laertes does not mirror Hamlet despite seeking justice for the same reasons. While the play presents Laertes and Hamlet with similar dilemmas,…show more content…
Although Laertes deliberately collaborates with Claudius to kill Hamlet, Laertes’ forgiveness and quick acceptance of his death suggest his platonic conception of morality. Before the match, Laertes receives Hamlet’s apology when he says, “I am satisfied in nature/… But in my terms of honour / I stand aloof” (5.2. 259-62). Laertes forgives Hamlet when he accepts the apology in “nature”; however, Laertes’ duty to protect his reputation requires him to avenge his father. In effect, Laertes evokes the distinction between honor and nature and the former’s influence over his decision to choose revenge over clemency. After an injured Hamlet wounds Laertes with the poisoned foil, Laertes laments that he is “justly killed” by his own “treachery.” (5.2.337). In blaming himself for his downfall, Laertes declares the justice of his death. Laertes possesses only a simple understanding of the immorality of murder because his honor, anger, and a lack of concern for his own damnation drives him to ultimately carry out the act. After Hamlet kills Claudius, Laertes states the justice in the king’s death and says, “mine and my father 's death come not upon thee, / Nor thine on me!” (5.2.359-63). By shifting blame onto others, Laertes demonstrates the capricious attitude with which he perceives guilt and his subjugation to his whim Therefore, Laertes’ actions follow his emotions rather than a careful reflection of his actions’

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