Was Hamlet Justified in His Actions?
To what extent is Hamlet’s quest for revenge justifiable in terms of the situation presented? Why or why not?
Hamlet is justified to avenge the killing of his father as the Prince and the right heir to the Denmark throne. Claudius with the help of the prince’s mother killed King Hamlet to take the throne away from their family. In a bid to confirm the information delivered by the king’s ghost, Hamlet stages a play that mimics the murder scene to reveal whether Claudius was guilty or not. However, the situation presented shows the awful reaction of Claudius towards the theatrical representation of the events that led to the death of King Hamlet. Convinced of Claudius’s culpability in the crime, the prince decided to murder his uncle. However, he mistakenly kills Polonius.
The persistent majestic appearances of King Hamlet’s spirit to lodge his complaint against Claudius before the prince justify the quest for revenge. The Ghost orders Hamlet I am thy father’s spirit. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder (Hamlet I.V.15 &31). The ghost appeared and revealed both Claudius and Gertrude as incestuous murderers. Moreover, the sudden death of the king and the immediate reactions of Queen Gertrude in marrying Claudius presents a situation that justifies Hamlet’s action to murder his uncle. Hamlet expected his mother to mourn for his husband for longer before settling for a marriage arrangement that purposely eliminated the prince as the heir to the throne. Another situation that justified Hamlet’s quest for revenger is Claudius’s action of poisoning wine anticipating killing the Prince. Instead, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine and dies blaming Claudius. Hamlet avenges the killing of his father and mother by forcing Claudius to drink the wine too.
Themes About Human Nature in Hamlet?
Explain what you think is revealed about human nature in Hamlet. Use characters and situations to illustrate your points.
Human nature is the representation of how the characters in Hamlet think, act, and react to tragic events throughout the story. Shakespeare uses Hamlet to highlight the greedy and self-eccentric human nature that seeks revenge or satisfaction. Instead of being the keeper of his brother, Claudius kills King Hamlet to inherit the throne of Denmark as a form of individual gratification. The action asserts the greediness of the brother to the extent of committing murder to obtain the crown. The self-eccentric behavior of Claudius in murdering King Hamlet represents the dark and evil aspect of every individual. Furthermore, Claudius’s greedy nature is shown when contrives a plan to eliminate Hamlet too by poisoning his wine. Besides, Gertrude acted greedily by marrying Claudius to secure her status as the Queen of Denmark contrary to the expectations of the protector of her husband. The actions made Hamlet distrust even Ophelia as a woman who was prone to cheat against the prince if he died too. Thus, he tells Ophelia to embrace nunhood as a reaction to his mother’s adultery-like marriage to Claudius, Get thee a nunnery (Hamlet III. I.131). The prince expected his mother and Ophelia to behave as a widow (nun) instead of marrying immediately after King Hamlet’s death.
Moreover, Shakespeare explores the relationship of cause and effect in human life by using situations that cause characters to seek vengeance. For example, Hamlet’s vengeance attitude led to the killing of Polonius when he thought it was Claudius. The action drove Ophelia mad that she drowned as related by Gertrude Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, (Hamlet IV.VII.200). Laertes deliberately poisons the tip of his rapier when fighting with Hamlet in a fencing match to avenge the death of his sister, Ophelia. Thus, Laertes stings Hamlet with the rapier, and Hamlet wounds both Laertes and Claudius successfully avenging his father and mother. Here, thou incestuous, damned Dane, drink off this potion. Is it here? Follow my mother (Hamlet V.II.356-358). Laertes proclaims that Hamlet had executed Justice by forcing Claudius to drink the poisoned wine too. The entire play emphasizes the acquisitive and revengeful human nature that seeks self-eccentric gratification.
Hamlet Quotes About Revenge
"Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder."
"I dare damnation. To this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence, Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father."
“No place, indeed, should murder Sanctuarize; Revenge should have no bounds.”
“Now might I do it pat, now he is praying, / And now I’ll do’t. / And so he goes to heaven, / And so I am revenged. That would be scanned: / a villain kills my father, and for that, / I, his sole son, do this same villain send / to heaven.”
“Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love, / May sweep to my revenge.”
“For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ.”
Shakespeare, W. (2012). The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. A. Mowat & P. Werstine (eds.). Folger Shakespeare Library. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2012.
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