Impulceful Revenge In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1212 Words 5 Pages
Revenge captures the hearts and minds of powerful rulers, lowly homemakers, and innocent children alike, and while it can be all consuming and superficially satisfying, vengeance always harms those who seek it. All know the blaze of vengeful feelings, however, not all realize the impossibility of truly successful revenge. The characters in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet find themselves obsessing over vengeance as their decaying country and corrupted court fall to shambles. Hamlet loses his father to murder, then, surrounded by the suspicion of family and friends, his fraudulent uncle becomes king. Likewise, Laertes, his father slain by Hamlet, is subject to the surveillance of many, constantly watched and noted upon. An examination of similarities …show more content…
Taking no time to complexly plan his retribution for the death of his father, Laertes eagerly plots with the king, accepting the first idea tossed to him. Fervently agreeing with Claudius’ fencing plan, Laertes exclaims, “I will do’t! …I’ll touch my point with this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly, it may be death” (4.7.153, 160-162). Because he acts on what he feels at the moment—thoughtlessly doing what he in that moment believes is correct— Laertes is developed as a more aggressive antagonist than Hamlet. His act of revenge is disastrous: hate-filled, irrational, and abrupt. Laertes retains his vengeful feelings until his final breath, as evidenced in Act V, Scene II, lines 238-242, where, before facing Hamlet, he voices, “…in my terms of honour I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement till by some elder masters of known honour I have a voice and precedent of peace to keep my name ungor’d”. This exclamation of awaiting forgiveness shows how nearsighted Laertes is, with no regard for consequences or future problems. A ruthless and hurried man, Laertes seeks vengeance quickly and confidently, unknowingly hurdling himself towards a cemented, catastrophic fate, sealed by his aggressive desire for …show more content…
Hamlet’s doubt springs from his deep thought, that which inspired plans to observe others while he acts insane, a way of reaching his anticipated vengeance. Since he is rational and thorough in his plans for revenge, Hamlet halts at a given opportunity for vengeance, shown when he muses, “A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge! ...He is fit and seasoned for his passage” (3.3.79-82, 89). Because King Claudius has just confessed, Hamlet refuses to kill him, wishing to be effective and precise. But, Hamlet’s cautiousness turns to cowardice, his plans fall to his tentative nature, and the vengeance he once rashly desired is not so swiftly achieved. Excessive wariness appears first at the end of Hamlet’s to be or not to be soliloquy, where he bemoans, “…thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch… lose the name of action” (3.1.91-93, 95). A cry of confusion, this outburst shows how unstable Hamlet truly is, showcasing his inaction and inability to follow through on his one wish of revenge on his uncle. Crumpled, unsuccessful, and helpless, at the end of his story, Hamlet inadvertently finds himself much like

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