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Revenge in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Revenge. Revenge causes one to act blindly through anger, rather than through reason. It is based on the principle of an eye for an eye, but this principle is not always an intelligent theory to live by. Young Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet were all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers. They all acted on emotion, and this led to the downfall of two, and the rise to power of one. Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest sons of these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons died while exacting their acts of vengeance. Revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet.

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There were three major families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These were the family of King Fortinbras, the family of Polonius, and the family of King Hamlet. The heads of each of these families are all slaughtered within the play. Fortinbras, King of Norway, was killed by King Hamlet; slain by sword during a man to man battle. “…our valiant Hamlet-for so this side of our known world esteem’d him-did slay this Fortinbras.” This entitled King Hamlet to the land that was possessed by Fortinbras because it was written in a seal’d compact. Polonius was an advisor to the King, and father to Laertes and Ophelia. He was nosy and arrogant, and he did not trust his children. He was killed by Young Hamlet while he was eves dropping on a conversation between Hamlet and his mother. “How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!” King Hamlet was the King of Denmark, and Hamlet’s father. He had killed King Fortinbras, only to be killed by his brother, Claudius. “…My offense is rank, it smells to heaven; A brother’s murder…” Each of these events effected the sons of the deceased in the same way, it …

…es of his poisoned wound. Young Fortinbras regains his fathers land, without use of violence, or death to himself. Hamlet names him new ruler of Denmark before he dies, and Fortinbras regains all of his father’s lost land, and becomes King of Denmark.

Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest sons of these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons died while exacting their acts of vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet. As a theme, revenge was present in all parts of the play. It seems ironic that Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet all died of the same sword. It is also ironic that the first the seek revenge against Claudius, Fortinbras, becomes King of Denmark. Revenge was the driving force behind three of the main characters of the play, for two it led to downfall, and for the other it led to greatness.

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