An Analysis of the Theme of Revenge in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

This story is based on the theme of revenge in Hamlet – Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare 30th January 1967

“… And we pray to you, Father, that you will accept our offering, and raise up our sister Jenny and our brother Connor, with his Son, in glory. Give them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them forever.” As Father Peter began the funeral mass, a single tear rolled down Anthony’s cheek. How could they have been taken away from him so suddenly? The fire had been so unexpected, that even now, two weeks later, he was barely able to let go of his beloved wife and son.

During the mass, Anthony looked around the small crowd that had gathered to honour his loved ones. He had invited only close family and friends, so one man easily stood out. He sat at the far end of the back pew, his face showing no emotions. Anthony had no idea who he was, or why he was there.

After the ceremony, Anthony followed the stranger. He just had to know why he was there. As he started to catch up to him, Anthony yelled out, “Hey! Wait for a minute! I want to ask you something.” But he just kept walking, as if Anthony had not even spoken. He jogged to catch up and grabbed the man by the shoulder.

“Hey! What’s the hurry; can’t I just ask you a question?”

“Okay.” He muttered, with a thick German accent. “What is it that you want to know?”

Anthony led him into the pub just down the street so that they could talk. They sat at a corner table, and the stranger spoke. “I am Stanley Geist. I was walking past your house on the 16th January at exactly ten twenty-three p.m., and, I saw everything.” After Anthony ordered two more beers, Stanley continued his story.

“I was on my way home from my nightly walk, when I noticed something quite odd at your place, I didn’t know you, or your family, but my attention was attracted by a man in the shadows. I recognised him immediately.” Stanley told of the man named Jacob Rosenberg who had dripped petrol through the window on the lower floor and then thrown in a lit match, starting the fire that had killed both Jenny and Connor. He had not gone to the Police, because, well, he just couldn’t. Anthony wasn’t able to compel him elaborate any more. Stanley then gave Anthony Jacob’s address and picture and quickly left the coffee shop.

Anthony walked home in a daze, and was rather surprised when he actually arrived. What was he to do about this man Rosenberg? He needed revenge. How dare Rosenberg take away his wife and son, just like that? He stared at the picture Geist had given him. Five minutes passed, ten minutes, thirty. Anthony put the picture in his pocket, collected some things and left his apartment.

Ten minutes after Anthony left home, he arrived in front of Jacob Rosenberg’s home. He waited a moment and then knocked on the door. As Jacob opened the door, Anthony raised his gun. “Let me in, Rosenberg! I know what you did.” Jacob hastily stepped aside to let Anthony past.

Jacob looked very worried. He didn’t know who this crazy man was, and more importantly, he had no idea what he was supposed to have done. Anthony glared at Jacob from across the room.

“Yeah! I’d be worried too, if I were you! I just have one question for you though. Why?”

“Why what? What is it that I am supposed to have done?”

“What do you mean, supposed to have done? Two weeks ago, you set fire to my home and killed my wife and son!”

“I did no such thing! I have never hurt anyone, and plus, I just arrived here from Perth two days ago.” Jacob waved his arms around, indicating the many removalist boxes stacked around the room, “Look, I even have proof, see, I haven’t paid my bills yet.” Jacob handed him a phone bill for a place on the outskirts of Perth, at least three thousand kilometres away. Anthony was slightly confused; maybe Rosenberg hadn’t killed his family. He started to lower his gun,

“But why would Stanley have said all of those things? Maybe it was really…”


A gunshot rang out through the house, and with a shocked look on his face, Jacob fell to the floor, bleeding from his chest. Anthony stood, shocked, staring at his gun in astonishment. Jacob was dead.

After a few moments, Stanley stepped out of the shadows behind Anthony.

“Stanley … But… I mean… What … just happened?”

“Well, you see, it was I who killed your family. It was an accident; well an accident in some respects. I meant to kill you and your son, not your wife. She was a beautiful woman, Anthony, and we loved each other very much. I was supposed to kill the two of you, and Jenny and I, would have found ‘comfort’ with each other.”

“But, if it was you who killed my family, why did you send me here? What did Rosenberg have to do with any of this?”

“Rosenberg,” Stanley spat out his name with pure disgust. “He has been tracing me since 1945. He had finally caught up to me and was intending to send me to Israel to be tried for crimes against the Jews in World War 2. Now you know too much, and I am going to do what I set out to do two weeks ago. Goodbye, Anthony.”

This revelation enraged Anthony. He tried to clench his fists, and then realised he still had the gun in his right hand. In one swift movement, he raised his gun and shot Stanley between the eyes. After a moment or two, Anthony lowered his hand and whispered,

“The rest, is silence…”

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