The Justification of Revenge and Unwillingness of Hamlet to Avenge his Father’s Death
Hamlet is a tragedy authored by William Shakespeare. The story tells of Hamlet, who is informed by the spirit of his father, that he has been murdered by Hamlet’s uncle Claudius and his minions. Hamlet devises a plan to avenge his father against those who murdered him. His convoluted plot involves a theater play that is intended to prove and verify his uncle’s guilt. He sets up the play to re-enact his father’s murder with the actor resembling his father. His logic behind this scheme is that Claudius will show reaction to this and thus confirm his guilt in the murder. Hamlet verifies his uncle’s guilt and sets forth his act of revenge in which he kills the perpetrators but also looses his life.
Hamlet meets several aspects of a tragic hero. Hamlets fall is partially his own fault. It is his revenge that ultimately causes his downfall and death. His downfall is not a pure loss, he achieves the revenge that he set out to accomplish. Hamlets misfortune is not wholly deserved, at least in his eyes, he is doing the righteous thing and is avenging the death of his father.
Hamlets downfall is partially his own fault. His vengeance leads to his downfall and death. Hamlet could have achieved the means of justice and revenge by other means. Hamlet could have forced an investigation into the death and had the perpetrators convicted in the court of law. His search for vengeance did reached beyond death. He wanted to ensure that Claudius paid for his crime in this life and the next. Hamlet decided not to kill his uncle during prayer to prevent him from reaching heaven. , “He took my father grossly, full of bread, With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May: Ad how his audit stands, who knows safe heaven’ (3.4.80-84). He wanted to ensure that his uncle’s suffering was everlasting and that he would pay for his crimes in hell. ‘That has no relish of salvation in’t: Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven As hell whereto it goes” (3.4.90-96). Taking his life at this moment of prayer would have likely prevented the death of the royal family and would have likely prevented Hamlet’s own demise. This makes his downfall partially his own fault. He could have avoided these consequences and still achieved justice, had his rage and thirst for revenge not blinded him. His faults in his downfall are the result of his own free will as he decided to take this plan to its furthest bounds.
Hamlet’s downfall is not a pure loss. Hamlet gains insight in his fathers death. Hamlet also avenges his father’s deaths against his killers. After the revaluation of his father’s death, Hamlet was consumed by the search for the truth and vengeance on the perpetrators. It is unlikely that Hamlet’s fate would have been a pleasant one if he had obtained from seeking revenge. Hamlet’s mental state is shown to slowly deteriorate throughout the play. He mentions self punishment and self-harm. “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt” (1.2.129). There is also a chance that Hamlet’s life may have been ended by his own hand. Hamlet mentions sleep as an end to heart ache, which shows signs of a depressed mood and possible suicidal tendencies. ‘“No more; and by a sleep to say we end Thea Heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks, The flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation'(3.1.61-63). It is unlikely that Hamlet could have lived a normal or joyous life after these revelations and thus, after the knowledge he gained, his downfall and death was not a total loss.
Hamlet’s misfortune is not wholly deserved. Most can understand the feelings of vengeance that Hamlet had for his father’s killers. It is also likely that Hamlet could not have lived in peace after knowing of his father’s demise and those who caused it.
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