Revenge In Hamlet

One of the four main themes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is revenge. The other three are deception, sexuality, and family. The plan to revenge King Hamlet’s murder by Claudius was the motivation Hamlet needed to transform into a man full of anger and madness. The ghost of King Hamlet instructs his son, Hamlet, to revenge his murder but Hamlet keeps his revenge plot till the final act of this Shakespeare’s drama. Between the time Hamlet had sworn to revenge the old king’s murder till the time the actual revenge was enacted, there were veils of illusion and several conflicts that resulted from Hamlet’s seeming inaction or delay. Thus, the revenge plot drags so long such that a number of deaths inadvertently happened and drove the revenge plot forward. Polonius, Ophelia, Guildenstern, Gertrude, Laertes, and Rosencrantz all died due to the inaction of Hamlet to quickly go after Claudius’ life and thus, end the revenge mission. While readers may wonder why the prolonged delay in Hamlet’s revenge mission, it is essential to note that Shakespeare’s style of revenge tragedy as portrayed in the Hamlet was in tandem with the characteristics of the revenge dramas of Elizabethan days.

Hamlet’s Action versus Inaction

To show that Hamlet had sworn to revenge his father’s murder as swiftly as possible, in I.v.29-31, Hamlet expressed his readiness to act fast with such words as ‘’wings as swift as mediation’’ being propelled by the thoughts of love to take vengeance. Despite the determination for a swift revenge, Hamlet was unable to act and Shakespeare introduced some other characters who were equally resolute and sworn to revenge wrong doings to keep the reader waiting and salivating for more about Hamlet’s revenge plot. For example, while Laertes was on a revenge mission to avenge the death of his father, Polonius, he got killed himself and Fortinbras had to travel several miles for a revenge and eventually succeeded in conquering Denmark in the process. Notwithstanding the perceived inaction of Hamlet in his revenge mission, Shakespeare used the delay to build intricacy into the emotional and psychological being of Hamlet.

The Three Interludes in Hamlet’s Revenge Mission

In three distinct ways, Hamlet prolonged his revenge mission of the murder of King Hamlet. Hamlet went to stage his father’s death in a drama display in which Claudius was a guest. He needed to use this strategy to establish that Claudius was truly guilty of the murder of King Hamlet. When the drama was displayed in Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet claimed he got the right signal simply because Claudius stormed out of the theatre while the drama was ongoing and Hamlet concluded that Claudius was indeed the man who had murdered his father. In Act 3l, Scene 3, Hamlet was in a vantage position to kill Claudius but chose not to act because of the concern that his target will end up in heaven if killed while praying to God. The third delay in accomplishing his revenge mission happened when he was sent to England shortly after killing Polonius. Since he was far away from Claudius, Hamlet determined to be more resolute in his revenge mission.

Though Hamlet eventually killed Claudius but the event leading to the ‘’revenge’’ was more of a coincidence than a revenge mission accomplished. Claudius planned to kill Hamlet and that plan backfired making Hamlet to quickly kill Claudius.