Hamlet: Revenge and Justice

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About this sample


Words: 924 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 924|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Motivations for Revenge
  3. Process of Revenge
  4. The Actual Revenge


In the play "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," Shakespeare explores the theme of revenge through the character of Hamlet. The murder of Hamlet's father by Claudius and Gertrude serves as the main motivation for his quest for revenge. When the ghost of his father appears to him and reveals the truth about the murder, Hamlet is compelled to seek justice. Although he initially hesitates, Hamlet eventually carries out his revenge after several failed attempts. Additionally, Hamlet's mother's hasty remarriage after his father's death intensifies his desire for revenge. Shakespeare uses the play to depict how power-hungry individuals can commit murder to gain power and threaten society as a whole.

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Motivations for Revenge

The murder of Hamlet's father is the primary motivation behind his thirst for revenge. The act of regicide leaves Hamlet resentful and drives him to embark on a journey of vengeance. According to Zakharov, the ghost's call for revenge on both Claudius and Gertrude, who are lovers, further fuels Hamlet's desire for retribution (188). Hamlet's initial plan is to immediately avenge his father's death, but he later decides to wait for the right moment. Unfortunately, this delay leads to the deaths of other individuals, such as Polonius, Ophelia's father. The murder of Hamlet's father and his mother's quick remarriage create the impression that they are indifferent to his grief and sorrow. This insensitivity intensifies Hamlet's need for revenge, as he feels that no one cares about his pain. In expressing his anger towards his mother's marriage to Claudius, Hamlet states, "does it not think’st thee, stand me now upon he had killed my king and whored my mother" (Shakespeare 18). Thus, the hasty marriage between the queen and Claudius angers Hamlet and becomes a significant motivator for seeking revenge. The quick ascension of Claudius to the throne after the murder of Hamlet's father is another factor that fuels his desire for revenge. By seizing power, Claudius further implicates himself in the regicide, driven by his greed for power. Hamlet, as the rightful heir to the throne, feels compelled to avenge his father's murder and prevent Claudius from maintaining his grip on power. The ghost also plays a crucial role in driving Hamlet's revenge against Claudius. As Shakespeare asserts, "the other ghost that assumed my father’s shape; both cried ‘revenge!'" (7). Moreover, Claudius plots to kill Hamlet, the sole heir to the throne, which only strengthens Hamlet's determination for revenge. The plan to eliminate Hamlet confirms his suspicions regarding Claudius's involvement in his father's murder and solidifies his resolve to seek justice.

Process of Revenge

After learning about his father's murder from the ghost, Hamlet initially plans to take immediate action but later decides to adopt an "antic disposition" and feign madness (Koumakpai 72). This strategy allows him to get closer to Claudius and increases his chances of avenging his father's death. However, his initially unconventional behavior fails to achieve the desired outcome. Hamlet then moves on to the second step of his revenge plan, which involves confirming the ghost's claims about Claudius's guilt. To accomplish this, Hamlet stages the "Mousetrap play" to provoke Claudius's guilt and anger. When Claudius leaves the court in a fit of rage, Hamlet confirms the truth of the ghost's revelations. As a result of his knowledge of the king's murder, Claudius orchestrates a plan to assassinate Hamlet. He enlists Laertes to carry out the deed, hoping to silence Hamlet and prevent further exposure of the truth (Pupavac 21). Claudius's plot to kill Hamlet intensifies after Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius.

The Actual Revenge

The ultimate stage of revenge is delayed when Hamlet goes into exile following Polonius's murder. During his absence, Hamlet's lover, Ophelia, goes mad and tragically drowns (Shakespeare 17). However, Hamlet eventually returns from exile and resumes his mission of revenge. Laertes, unwittingly poisoned by Claudius, dies from the poison on the sword intended for Hamlet. Gertrude, the queen, accidentally drinks the poisoned wine that Claudius prepared. Claudius had planned for Hamlet to drink the poisoned wine if he succeeded in killing him. However, Hamlet seizes the poisoned sword from Laertes and kills him instead. Finally, Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink the poisoned wine. Through these events, Hamlet successfully avenges his father's death by killing Claudius and Gertrude. The culmination of these actions underscores the play's exploration of the theme of revenge and the consequences it can have on individuals and society as a whole.

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In conclusion, Shakespeare's play "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" delves into the theme of revenge through the character of Hamlet. The murder of his father by Claudius and Gertrude serves as the main motivation for his quest for justice. Hamlet's desire for revenge is intensified by his mother's hasty remarriage and the quick ascension of Claudius to the throne. The ghost of his father plays a crucial role in driving Hamlet's revenge, as it urges him to seek justice against those responsible for regicide. Hamlet initially plans to take immediate action but later adopts a strategy of feigning madness to get closer to Claudius. The process of revenge involves confirming the ghost's claims about Claudius's guilt and staging the "Mousetrap play" to expose the truth. Hamlet's revenge is ultimately carried out through a series of events, including the deaths of Polonius, Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius. Through these actions, Hamlet successfully avenges his father's murder, highlighting the consequences of revenge and the corrupting nature of power. Shakespeare's exploration of revenge in "Hamlet" serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of seeking vengeance and the potential harm it can cause to individuals and society.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Hamlet: Revenge and Justice. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Hamlet: Revenge and Justice.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
Hamlet: Revenge and Justice. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Hamlet: Revenge and Justice [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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