Reflect on the Theme of Revenge in Hamlet
Theme of Revenge in Hamlet
The theme of revenge is one of the most prominent and recurring themes in William Shakespeare‘s play, Hamlet. It is a complex and multi-faceted theme that explores the psychological, moral, and ethical implications of seeking revenge. Throughout the play, the characters are consumed by the desire for revenge, and the tragic consequences of their actions highlight the destructive nature of this desire.
One of the most prominent examples of revenge in Hamlet is Hamlet’s quest to avenge his father’s murder. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and implores him to seek revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered him and usurped his throne. Hamlet is initially reluctant to act on his father’s request, but he ultimately becomes consumed by the desire for revenge.
In Act 3, Scene 3, Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying, but he decides not to. He reflects on the nature of revenge, and the moral and ethical implications of seeking it:
“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them?”
This shows Hamlet’s internal struggle with the idea of revenge. He recognizes that revenge is a violent and destructive act, but he is also torn between the desire for justice and the fear of the consequences of his actions.
The theme of revenge is also explored through the character of Laertes, who seeks revenge against Hamlet for the death of his father, Polonius. Laertes is consumed by his desire for revenge, and he is willing to go to any lengths to achieve it, even if it means sacrificing his own life. In Act 4, Scene 5, Laertes reflects on his desire for revenge:
“To cut his throat i’ th’ church!”
This shows Laertes’ extreme and irrational desire for revenge. He is willing to commit a heinous act in a sacred place in order to achieve his goals. Laertes’ desire for revenge ultimately leads to his own downfall, as he is killed in the final duel with Hamlet.
The destructive nature of revenge is also highlighted through the character of Ophelia, who is driven to madness and suicide by the revenge plots of others. Ophelia is caught in the crossfire of the revenge plots between Hamlet and Laertes, and she ultimately loses her sanity and takes her own life. In Act 4, Scene 5, Ophelia sings a haunting song that reflects her despair and confusion:
“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.”
This shows Ophelia’s descent into madness and her inability to make sense of the events around her. The theme of revenge has consumed the lives of those around her, and she is unable to escape its destructive influence.
In conclusion, the theme of revenge is a complex and multi-layered one in Hamlet. The play explores the psychological, moral, and ethical implications of seeking revenge, and the tragic consequences of the characters’ actions highlight the destructive nature of this desire. The internal struggle of Hamlet, the extreme and irrational desire for revenge of Laertes, and the tragic end of Ophelia all highlight the devastating consequences of seeking revenge. The play ultimately suggests that revenge is a self-destructive impulse that leads to tragedy and despair.
Read More: Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Written by Koushik Kumar Kundu
Koushik Kumar Kundu was among the toppers when he completed his Masters from Vidyasagar University after completing his Bachelors degree with Honours in English Literature from The University of Burdwan. He also completed B.Ed from the University of Burdwan.
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