Internal Conflict in Hamlet: the Inner Struggle of Revenge

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Updated: Aug 10, 2023
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Hamlet: A Masterpiece of Revenge

Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays and is often regarded as one of the best works in the English language. The concept of revenge is one of the play’s primary themes. William Shakespeare wrote the play Hamlet, which is about revenge. The main character, Hamlet, desires revenge for his father’s death, but as the play progresses, he finds that revenge isn’t as simple as it appears. The drama shows how revenge may corrupt and destroy the one seeking it.

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The Destructive Power of Revenge

One of Hamlet’s major themes is how revenge may turn a person for the worse. Hamlet begins by wanting to do the right thing by getting revenge on his father, but as he attempts to do so, he starts getting obsessed with it. Because of his need for revenge, he begins to act impulsively and even endangers those he loves. In the end, the sequence of events set in motion by his desire for revenge kills a large number of people, including himself. Revenge is a powerful drive, and it is Hamlet’s desire for revenge that causes him to delay his deeds. Hamlet’s father’s ghost informs him that his uncle, King Claudius, murdered him in order to claim the throne. This news provokes Hamlet’s anger and desire for revenge. However, Hamlet is torn between his desire for revenge and his moral difficulty over killing someone. He is an extremely sensitive person who spends much of the play struggling with his ideas and feelings.

Internal Conflict in Hamlet

Another major subject in the play is how revenge might trigger a never-ending cycle. Hamlet wants revenge because his father was murdered, but this is only because King Claudius wanted the throne and married Hamlet’s mother. The drama shows how one person’s acts can lead to another wanting revenge, and so on. The play is unique from other revenge dramas by Hamlet’s hesitation over pursuing revenge. Other revenge tragedies include the protagonist taking quick and brutal revenge on the one who has harmed them. Hamlet, on the other hand, is unique.

Hamlet’s Struggle with Morality

He is consumed by his thoughts and spends the majority of the time attempting to find the best thing to do. He even goes so far as to create a play to determine whether Claudius is guilty of his father’s death. This shows that Hamlet is concerned not just with revenge but also with justice.

One of the most famous quotes in the play is when Hamlet says, ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’ This quote reflects Hamlet’s struggle with the idea of taking revenge. He wonders if it is a greater thing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take weapons against a sea of troubles and, by fighting them, bring them to a stop. This is a powerful part of the play because it shows the depth of Hamlet’s moral conflict. The play also explores the difference between wanting to do something and really doing it. Hamlet thinks a lot about revenge, but he doesn’t act on it for a long time. This theme shows how our thoughts can have a major impact on our lives, but it is our actions that are truly important.


  1. Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Edited by David Bevington, 4th ed., Pearson, 2014, pp. 1184-1250.
  2. Jones, Ernest. “Hamlet’s Delay: An Attempt at Explanation.” The American Journal of Psychology, vol. 21, no. 2, 1910, pp. 193-218.
  3. Berry, Edward I. “Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Controversies of Self.” Palgrave Macmillan, 2000.
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Internal Conflict in Hamlet: The Inner Struggle of Revenge. (2023, Aug 10). Retrieved from