Climax of Hamlet: the Tragic Ambivalence of Revenge

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Updated: Aug 15, 2023
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In summation, Prince Hamlet has an interesting perception of love. At first, he appears to believe in its beauty and the concept of romance, as evident from his actions towards Ophelia. However, the death of his father and her mother’s marriage to his uncle, who is responsible for the King’s death, creates a negative perception of love.

Love’s Transformation and Its Impact

Hamlet is broken and disturbed by his mother’s decision to marry his uncle in such a short time that he expresses her tears from his dad’s burial service were not by any means dried up at this point before hopping into bed with his uncle.

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Obviously, Hamlet gets skeptical of women because of this duplicity from his mother that he reveals all women in the end, including Ophelia. His view of love changes as he blames it for being the reason why his family is destroyed. Further, the love for family is the reason why Polonius sabotages his love and relationship with Ophelia.

After the death of King Hamlet, his ghost appears to his son Prince Hamlet and commands him to avenge the foul murder committed by his brother Claudius. The concept of losing his father, the throne, and his mother to his uncle is motivation enough to exact revenge. However, Hamlet is reluctant to exact revenge and spends almost the entire play failing to keep his oath (Ryan, 2016). He is still reluctant even after the reappearance of his father’s ghost in the third act. Arguably, Hamlet’s reason for failing to avenge his father’s death is forgetfulness or just plain cowardly. While he finally avenges his father’s murder at the end of the play, it only happens by chance (Ryan, 2016). Put differently, if not for chance, his father’s murder would have remained un-avenged. Hamlet’s form of retribution comes too late in the play. Had he killed Claudius earlier on, numerous preventable deaths would have been avoided. Hamlet’s compulsion to procrastinate about his oath to exert revenge is the primary cause of the entire series of events in the play. Therefore, there is no brilliance or calculative move in play.


Hamlet himself is perplexed by his lack of determination to act swiftly on the revenge he must take. In the second act, he rebukes himself when he sees an actor weep out of sorrow for an imaginary character. Everyone agrees that Hamlet has a legitimate obligation to seek revenge for the King’s murder. (Ryan 2016). His personality seems to suffer from the unfortunate possession of some intellectual, emotional, and psychological flaws. His virtuous background appears to prevent him from fulfilling his obligation promptly. Yet, this, without a doubt, was not Hamlet’s explanation. There was no genuineness in his discourse aside from as a reason for sitting idle.


  1. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

  2. “Hamlet: A User’s Guide” by Michael Pennington

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Climax of Hamlet: The Tragic Ambivalence of Revenge. (2023, Aug 15). Retrieved from