There is a very obvious pattern in a lot of Shakespeare’s work that when revenge is involved it usually ends in a tragedy. Tragedy meaning that there is not a happy ending for the main character, and a lot of death. Hamlet is a very good example of a play where the main character not only thinks about his revenge but he also gets completely consumed by it and ends up dead in the end… spoiler alert.

The loss of someone close to a person can make someone lose himself or herself, so when the idea of revenge enters that persons’ head it can make them crazy. Not because they are a bad person, but because something broke in them when they lost someone they loved. In that state of loss, a person is very vulnerable and the walls of humanity that we put up to fit in everyday life are a lot easier to knock down. Humans are capable of a wide range of feelings and emotions, but it is what we choose to do with them that define us. Hamlet even says, “To be or not to be: that is the question…” (Act 3, scene 1). He questions to live or die, whether or not to live and face the consequences of what he might become, or to end his life and not go on.

Hamlet began to let down his walls and doing so he became even more vulnerable and frightened. He knew he could not go back once he started on his journey to revenge, but he was sensible enough in Act 3 to question if living in that state was a life worth living. In his decision to go on living he became mad and hungry for revenge and completely unsatisfied in anything else life had to offer, even love.

Even though at Ophelia’s grave he admitted he always loved her it was too late. He drove that love away because of his fear and insecurities. This way of living not only hurt himself but it also drove Ophelia mad because the rejection was too much for her to handle and the loneliness in the grief drove her mad, just like the loneliness that comes with revenge drove Hamlet mad.

In conclusion, we are all capable of the same emotions but it the different circumstances that life brings to us as individuals that provoke them. Whether it be loss, rejection, or wanting power it can provoke people to be something they are not. In this revenge play, everything was life or death and the stakes of each moment were very high and resulted in madness and death for a lot of the main characters. That is what a good play does though; it takes a lifetime of suffering and/ or joy and puts into a condensed version: a play. This play is a tragedy because it displays things about humanity that are scary, and the scary thing is that humans are capable of a lot of things when they are desperate no matter what the consequences are. To be or not to be: is a very good question.

~ Maddie Poeta


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