The Theme of Revenge in Hamlet, a Play by William Shakespeare
Many might say that the cost of Hamlets revenge is death. True that is one outcome of his revenge, but that is not all. In William Shakespeare s Hamlet, we find out about the other consequences of revenge. This is a story of murder and that is indeed what Hamlets revenge is. As Lord Hamlet s ghost says, Murder most foul, as in the best it is (1.5.33).
While Hamlets actions affected many things, perhaps the most significant action was that which took place near the end of the play. Everyone who is supposedly guarding the castle is so wrapped up in the drama of Hamlets revenge that they forget about doing their job of keeping watch. While watching the ominous fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes, Norway s army surrounded and invaded the castle. Because of the lack of guards, the army easily overpowers the few men keeping watch. Seizing control of the castle, Norway now ruled Denmark. The Norwegians, expecting more resistance were surprised by the number of people dead This quarry cries on havoc (5.2.403). This was clearly the most significant consequence of Hamlets revenge.
The entire royal family was also greatly affected by Hamlet s revenge. Once the King, Queen, and prince were dead, no one else was left to take over the crown. Perhaps the murders were a selfish thing for Hamlet to have done. He did not consider the long-term affects his actions would cause. When he committed his first murder and subsequently his first act of revenge he certainly did not realize what events would follow and eventually lead to the demise of Denmark. Surely he did not anticipate Ophelia s death nor his mothers and certainly not his own. Hamlet most likely was not expecting the dozen or so deaths that came out of his revenge.
Possibly he did not know of any other alternative to killing the King. Maybe he was too mad to clear his head and think of other alternatives. Hamlet was certainly a very intelligent individual so he defiantly could have thought of other ways to deal with his rage. It is understood that he came to the conclusion that the only way to solve the problem of his hatred and jealousy of his Uncle, now the King, was to kill him. As Polonius said Though this be madness, yet there is method in t (2.2.223). Perhaps Polonius was saying that Hamlet s revenge really did have some simple reasoning to it. If that was the case he should have dealt with it in a mature manner, and not brought so many people into the whole ordeal. The only people that really needed to be involved were Hamlet and his mother, the Queen.
One problem that could have arisen if Hamlet had killed his uncle at the beginning was that other people would have thought that it was a murder purely out of hatred and jealousy. He would have had no tangible proof that his uncle had killed his father, the king. In order to take over the throne. People would have thought that he was crazy if he told them that the reason that he killed his Uncle was because his dads ghost told him that his Uncle was the murderer. Because of his seemingly pointless actions he would have lost all respect of his loved ones such as the Queen and Ophelia. He also might have faced being beheaded by the townspeople. Quite possibly this was the right thing to do; it saved any grief of lost ones or hatred towards Hamlet. Hamlet might really have used his intelligence in a good way when he acted upon his revenge.
Hamlet s revenge was definitely the main theme to the play. What started out as Hamlet s desire to get revenge towards his uncle for killing his father escalated to the point that Denmark would be changed forever.
Today revenge of the same sort as Hamlet s would never be socially acceptable. Perhaps Hamlet had never been taught killing out of anger was wrong, maybe he thought it was the punishment his Uncle deserved. Maybe the most important thing though is to be at peace with yourself, be happy with yourself, and with your actions. This above all: to thine own self be true (1.3.84), that is all that you can hope for from Hamlet; that he was above all else, true to himself.