The True Cost of Revenge

Determined to revenge his father, Hamlet states “Haste me to know ‘t, that I, with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love, / May sweep to my revenge” (I.i.35-37). Understandably infuriated, Hamlet makes an oath to avenge his father, and destroy all who get in his way. Later on, in the play, Hamlet gets an opportunity to avenge his father by murdering Claudius, as he finds him with his back turned to Hamlet, praying. Hamlet refrains from doing so stating “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying, / And now I’ll do ‘t And so he goes to heaven” (I.iii.77-78). Hamlet does not believe that justice would be served if Claudius goes to heaven, rather, Hamlet wants him to rot in Hell. Due to this, Hamlet chooses to kill Claudius while he is happily reveling in the incestuous pleasures of his occupation. This scene exemplifies the confidence Hamlet has in his ability to avenge his father. He had his goal within his grasp, but Hamlet chooses to wait a bit longer to execute. Whether one would consider this stupidity or confidence is up to debate, but it is clear Hamlet is determined to make Claudius suffer.

Moving to the climax of the play, Hamlet duels Laertes. Claudius, who has organized the whole façade, believes this is his chance to save himself from Hamlet’s fury. Sneakily, he poisons the tip of Laertes sword, so it will kill upon impact. He has also poisoned the wine cups, which he conveniently offers to Hamlet to drink. The first to die is Gertrude, as she drinks the poisoned wine, intended for Hamlet. Hamlet furious and just wounded by poisoned by the sword; charges towards to Claudius, and murders him. He makes him drink the poisoned wine that killed Gertrude, and declares “Here, you goddamn incest-breeding, Danish murderer drink this. / Is your little pearl in there? Follow my mother” (V.ii.320-321). Although Hamlet was successful in avenging his father, was it all worth it? As a result of his rage, his mother dies, the innocent die, and he dies as well. It is possible that Shakespeare was making fun of the concept of revenge, and was trying to convey that it is never the answer, as it just furthers the spread of hatred.


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