The Theme of Revenge in Hamlet
Hamlet is a play written by none other than William Shakespeare. In this play, Hamlet plots revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who murdered his father to take the throne as the king of Denmark and married his mother. Driven by revenge and his inner complexity, Hamlet faces his inevitable doom. Few characters throughout this play helps us to comprehend Hamlet’s inner self. They not only help us to understand Hamlet but stands as a proof to how insane Hamlet is.
Hamlet has always hated the fact that he’s bound by his noble blood. Being the son of a king has made him sort of subservient. He did not like it when his good friend Horatio addressed him as his lord all the time. Horatio portrays a calm, generous and a loyal friend to Hamlet. Horatio is the only one Hamlet truly trusts in this play and Horatio deserves every bit of that trust as he has helped and advised Hamlet when needed the most. A good example of Horatio’s loyalty and integrity would be when he tried to stop Hamlet from his fencing challenge with Laertes. “You will lose this wager, my lord”; “If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will forestall their repair hither, and say you are not fit” . These lines show clearly how close Horatio is to Hamlet.
Horatio being as he is, smart, calm and rational, is everything Hamlet wishes he was. Hamlet has been always jealous of Horatio’s qualities. “Give me that man that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee. Something too much of this”. This line says if he could find a being like Horatio within himself, he would be that person with all his heart. Hamlet wants to be free from the constraints of nobility and fate, and wants to live a life like Horatio.
Unlike Horatio, Ophelia is character, whose life is a lot like Hamlet when it comes to freedom. As for Hamlet, his nobility restricts him from the life he wants, for Ophelia, it’s her virginity as suggested in the play. “It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed, which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmastered importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia. Fear it, my dear sister”.
Here what Laertes, her brother, is trying to say is that Hamlet being highborn, even if Hamlet says he loves Ophelia, he’ll never marry her. His nobility will never allow them to be together. So therefore, Ophelia must not give into love and lose her virginity to Hamlet. Laertes emphasizes more and more on her virginity as if that’s the only thing keeping her and their family name safe. As if being a decent woman means to keep her virginity. After this conversation, her father Polonius implies the same thing. Her family thinks nothing more of her. By comparing both Hamlet and Ophelia, we grasp an idea of what kind life they led.
Hamlet’s relationship with his mother Gertrude is rather a complicated one. More importantly Hamlet’s feelings towards his mother is very disturbing. Hamlet kept constantly thinking of his mother in sexual ways. He couldn’t bear the thought of Claudius and Gertrude sleeping together. Hamlet of course kept all these things to himself until confronted Gertrude and let everything out. “A bloody deed— almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother”; “Nay, but to live, in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love over nasty sty–”. Once Hamlet went on, he couldn’t stop himself anymore. He let his anger took over and spill out everything that he’s been bottling up inside for all this time. He accused his mother of plotting the murder of his father with Claudius and his frustration over them sleeping together. This tells us about his psychological state, where or how he is at this moment. Hamlet’s lust for his mother is quite deranged.
Hamlet finally stops when the ghost of his father appears before his eyes in night gown. “Do not forget. This visitation is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. But look, amazement on thy mother sits. O, step between her and her fighting soul! Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works. Speak to her, Hamlet”. Here, the purpose of this visit is to remind Hamlet what’s his true motive is. Although it seems like his father’s ghost who appeared but it’s possible that it’s Hamlet’s own imagination. Somewhere in his conscience he knew that no matter what Gertrude did or how he feels about her, she’s still his mother. Therefore, his conscience formed this imagination to stop his rampage from going on any further.
These characters in this play, portray a complicated idea on what kind of psychological state Hamlet was in, and how he viewed the world or people around him. They try to show us what Hamlet is and wishes to be. They are like a projection of his unconscious mind.
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