The Promise of Revenge in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Last Updated: 31 Jan 2023
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Revenge should know no bounds Claudius

In William Shakespeare s Hamlet, Hamlet vows to avenge his father s death at the hands of Claudius, however, he procarastinates throughout the play and doesn t seek revenge until the end, when Hamlet finally acts by his instincts, and kills his fathers murderer. Hamlet is stopped in seeking revenge by a number of factors throughout the play. He needs to know if the ghost is telling the truth before he seeks revenge. He fears purgatory as told about the horrors of it by the ghost. He needs to get himself together before seeking revenge, and he procrastinates through discovering that revenge is easier said than done.

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder

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When his father s ghost came to him and told him to avenge his murder, Hamlet was eager to take immediate action. However before seeking revenge he needs to know if the ghost is telling the truth about his murder. May sweep to my revenge. Hamlet feels that if the ghost isn t telling the truth and he acts, he too will become a murderer. Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all. In order to determine if Claudius is truly guilty, Hamlet produces a play in which the plot is parallel to King Hamlet s murder.

Hamlet asks his good friend, Horatio, to watch Claudius reaction to the play and to determine whether Claudius is guilty or not. By Claudius reaction, Hamlet could come to the conclusion that the ghost was telling the truth and Claudius did murder his father. By the time the player s came to Elsinore, it s been a while since Hamlet promised the ghost that he would take revenge. However, finding out the ghost was telling the truth didn t make Hamlet seek immediate revenge. He had to overcome other factors stopping him from seeking revenge. Hamlet heard the horrors of purgatory from his fathers ghost and he is worried that if he commits.

Claudius murder, he will have to go through the terrors of purgatory. He wants Claudius to have to go through purgatory, so when he gets the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius, he can t. Hamlet assumes when Claudius is kneeling in prayer, that he is repenting his sins. Hamlet stops himself from approaching Claudius when he remembers that Claudius killed old hamlet without giving the king an opportunity to confess his sins. To assure revenge, Hamlet decides to wait until he can catch his uncle in sin and unprepared for death.

Throughout the play, Hamlet is shown to be unstable. His mind is full of thought of talking to his dead father, discovering incest, murder, and past adultery that he can t arrive at any logical resolution. He is unbalanced and cannot bring himself to act; he needs to get himself together first, before seeking revenge. Hamlet tells Horatio after he has been told about his father s murder, that he is going to put an antic disposition on to observe Claudius more easily behind the mask of madness. In this state, Hamlet gets wound up in grief that he really becomes emotionally disturbed and incapable of action. Hamlet is totally confused.

If hamlet killed Claudius, Gertrude would be alone, as she is married to him, it would affect her as well. Although he is angry with his mother, he also doesn t want her to be by herself. He believes his mother betrayed his father by marrying Claudius so soon after his father s death. Hamlet is disgusted with his mother and condemns her for her sine. He is grief stricken to realize that his mother has committed adultery and now sleeping in incestuous sheets. However, Hamlet shows a bond with his mother and when she dies, by being poisoned, Hamlet now finally can seek his revenge on Claudius which he has been trying to do since the beginning of the play. This shows that he loved his father even though he was angry with the things she was doing. Let the door be locked. Treachery. Seek it out.

Another reason Hamlet delays in seeking revenge is because he is too self absorbed. He talks about committing suicide, about how he feels, about what he thinks, and about how he feels towards his mother and Ophelia. He thinks about seeking revenge but takes a long time in seeking it. In some ways words serve as Hamlet s prison. He analyses and examines every part of his situation until he has exhausted every angle and causes him to be indecisive. In this way he procrastinates through words to realize that revenge is easier said than done.

As seen, in Hamlet, Hamlet promised to avenge his father s death, the mission of revenge is something he takes no pleasure in. At first he seemed almost anxious to kill his uncle, but as the play continued, he considers his task in more serious terms. Hamlet procrastinated through factors of not knowing if the ghost was telling the truth through his fear of purgatory, through his antic deposition, and through protecting his mother.

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The Promise of Revenge in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. (2023, Jan 22). Retrieved from

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