Revenge in Hamlet
In the first source by Berger, she criticizes the words that Shakespeare uses to portray the theme of revenge in Hamlet. However, the Dunne in his second article "Exceptional Hamlet and Resistance to Law” critiques Hamlet on the basis that the theme of revenge violates the Legal system because citizens take law in their hands instead of following the jury proceedings. Moreover, in the third source Funk claims that Shakespeare uses empty signifiers in his play, thus the deconstructed language violates literature rules. On the other hand Guilfoyle in his article "A Kind of Vengeance: Images of Classical and of Divine Revenge in Hamlet" criticizes revenge in Hamlet stating that the ideas are old and have been used by other authors in the past.
Additionally, Shaw criticizes readers and authors that blame Hamlet’s delayed revenge. For instance, he states “To me it is clear that Shakespeare meant to represent the effects of a great action laid upon a soul unfit for performance” (83). Additionally, in Dunne’s "Exceptional Hamlet and Resistance to Law” found in Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy and Early Modern Law that Palgrave Macmillan published in 2016, he criticizes the trial scenes, untrustworthy evidence as well as justice miscarriage that dominate the revenge tragedies. He enrolled at Trinity College Dublin and graduated with a PhD in Resurgence Literature. Dunne as an ancient modernist by inclination and training focuses Shakespeare’s works such as the revenge tragedy, vindictive justice and the Modern law. Moreover, he authored 8 articles one book and 8 articles on mathematics of revenge, Antonio’s Revenge, modern drama and Hamlet’s legal engagement with culture.
Guilfoyle in his article "A Kind of Vengeance: Images of Classical and of Divine Revenge in Hamlet" that Parergon published 1987 criticizes Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the basis that the play is not new and there have been several other versions of the play in the past (Guilfoyle, 127). As an author of the play within a play in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Guilfoyle criticizes revenge in Hamlet by arguing that Senecan model was the earliest version of revenge in the play, thus Shakespeare’s ideas are not original but rather a repetition of what used to be Ur-Hamlet. Additionally, he claims that “no matter how much Shakespeare modifies the play, it will always remain in the minds of the minds of the public because it is a replication of ancient ideas” (132).
Guilfoyle claims that Shakespeare used the theme of earthly revenge in the first editions of Hamlet and later modified it to God’s vengeance. As a result, the revenge in the play ends with an outward uncertainty and confusion. She is a PhD holder in literature from Gorakhpur University, thus she possess the basic knowledge in literature such as plays. As the assistant professor in Amit University in Noida, Singh criticizes Shakespeare’s theme of revenge in Hamlet. She argues that Hamlet’s acts of revenge do not necessarily make him a hero as many of the author interpret the play. On contrary Singh claims “Hamlet is hardly the popular hero- he’s confused and indecisive, he’s unable to act and he procrastinates” (Singh, 200).
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By definition; revenge can be termed as the act of doing harm, inflicting pain or destroying something of value to someone else as a retaliatory measure for whatever they wrong they had previously done to you. It is considered an emotion-driven reaction as opposed to a rational calculation. Therefore, in most cases, revenge ends up being more disastrous than it was initially intended as the person seeking revenge is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. James E in Shakespeare's Sense of Character highlights that the Author “Shakespeare uses revenge as one of the major themes that in his work. ” It plays a major role in character shaping for characters such as Fortinbras, Hamlet, and Laertes. From this observation, there is a suspicion of foul play.
Dunne and Derek in their book Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy and Early Modern Law bring out prospectively the death of Hamlet’s father. The ghost of Hamlet’s father complains about how he is unable to rest because he was murdered. By so doing, the ghost of his father asks him to find and avenge the person who was responsible for his murder. The ghost narrates to Hamlet on how he was murdered by the king Claudius. However, upon discovery of their plot, he arranges for the hanging of both of them. In the process, Ophelia drowns due to singing sad songs mourning the death of her father (Bowers 34). In his fight with Laertes, Hamlet succeeds in revenging the death of his father by stabbing Claudius with a poisoned arrow dropped by Laertes during the fence fight.
This comes after Laertes explains the part Claudius play in a joint plot with Laertes to kill Hamlet. He, therefore, succeeds in avenging the death of his father but under different circumstances. However, his revenge mission is not entirely successful as he ends up being killed too in the process by the same poisoned sword that he had intended to use to destroy Hamlet. In their fight, Laertes drops the poisoned sword, which Hamlet uses to stab him with. However, before his death, he has succeeded in also getting to stab Hamlet with the same poisoned sword and thereby achieving a significant feat in his quest to avenge the death of his father. Knutson in his work the Shakespeare Studies highlights that Laertes in his final moments “is filled with regret and guilt for pursuing the revenge mission” after Hamlet apologizes for killing his father.
The fruits of his mission are too short-lived as he dies even before the person who he sought revenge on. Horatio a very good friend or Hamlet is the first to mention the intentions of Fortinbras in the first act to Hamlet. Fortinbras believes in going for what is rightfully his. As a young prince whose backline story is almost similar to that of Hamlet. However, he takes a different approach strategy towards avenging his father’s death. Both Hamlet and Fortinbras are princes whose uncles have taken kingship, which is supposed to be rightfully theirs. Shakespeare’s skill of characterization helps to bring out the human nature that drives people towards seeking revenge. He succeeds in showing how different approaches towards a certain specific goal could easily lead to different outcomes as opposed to what was initially intended or in other instances lead to success.
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