The act of revenge never fails to accomplish Shakespeare’s goal of keeping the audience in their seats. Hamlet, William Shakespeare’s most well written play carries the theme of revenge or redemption throughout the play.
Redemption is defined to be as the desire to undo an injury or a wrongdoing. Many characters felt that they needed to redeem themselves however in doing so, they ended up facing death. For some characters, revenge had sprouted from their urges to redeem themselves.
Revenge is defined as the desire to repay an individual for their injury or wrongdoing.
A famous American novelist, John Irving has mentioned in work The World According to Garp, that it is a life-redeeming work in which everybody dies. Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most unique play follows in-line with Irving’s idea which is seen through the actions of Hamlet, Laertes and Gertrude. Hamlet, the protagonist of the play was greatly affected by the death of his father, King Hamlet who he sought for revenge throughout the play. During the beginning of the play, Hamlet was very distressed at the fact that his father had died. He was very troubled at the fact that his mother Gertrude had remarried Claudius so quickly.
Hamlet felt that his mother had betrayed and abandoned his father for another man. After Hamlet’s altercation with the King Hamlet’s ghost, Hamlet raged in anger against Claudius for killing his father. Hamlet felt that he needed to redeem his father so he sought his path of revenge by planning on killing Claudius.
Hamlet also tried to redeem himself with Ophelia. Hamlet has acted very rudely and crazy in front of Ophelia where he said, “Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them” (3. 1. 139-141). However, by the time Ophelia died, Hamlet poured his heart out saying that: Swounds, show me what thou’lt do. Woo’t weep? Woo’t fight? Woo’t fast? Woo’t tear thyself? Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile? I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine, To outface me with leaping in her grave? Be buried quick with her? —and so will I. (5. 1. 252-258) Hamlet realizes how much he actually loved Ophelia and he shows that he will be willing to do anything to redeem himself for the way he acted towards Ophelia before. During the scene at the churchyard, Laertes and Hamlet get into an altercation in Ophelia’s grave however, Hamlet after feels “very sorry” for his actions towards Laertes (5. . 80). By the end of the play, Hamlet gives a formal apology to Laertes, which he accepts. This signifies that as the play progress and as Hamlet makes mistakes, he attempts redeem himself in the way he was acting crazy. Hamlet wanted to come back to his usual self but at the same time he still wanted seek his revenge against his father. By the end of the play, Claudius does die and Hamlet fulfills his goal of seeking redemption just before his death. Laertes is an explosive and hotheaded character who got angry when he found out from Claudius that it was Hamlet who killed his father, Polonius.
Claudius plans out a devious plan for Laertes to kill Hamlet during fencing. Claudius shows his true character when he encourages Laertes to choose a sharp sword and to “[r]equite [Hamlet] for [his] father” (4. 7. 136). However, by the end of the play Laertes realizes that by going against Hamlet, he is doing a wrong thing. Even after betraying Hamlet, Laertes redeems himself by exposing that the king is at fault for events that took place. He finally asks for Hamlet’s forgiveness, which Hamlet accepts.
This signifies that even though he fulfilled Claudius’ wishes of killing and betraying his friend Hamlet; he still redeemed himself by telling Hamlet the truth about Claudius. By the end of the play, Laertes faced death while he was seeking redemption. As per Hamlet, Gertrude was seen as a mother who had betrayed her previous husband, King Hamlet by marrying Claudius a few months after King Hamlet’s death. Gertrude did not take Hamlet’s feeling into consideration after remarrying with Claudius showing that Instead, she forces Hamlet to accept Claudius as his father, which shows that she only thinks about herself; she is selfish.
Gertrude wasn’t hesitant in telling Claudius that it was Hamlet who killed Polonius. She was willing to betray her own son by further convincing Claudius that Hamlet was mad. By doing so, Claudius began planning on “sending [Hamlet] away”, which Gertrude agreed to (4. 3. 8). However, it seems that by the end of the play Gertrude has a realization this entire time it was Claudius who was really against her and not Hamlet. She dies by crying out “Oh, my dear Hamlet! ” (5. 2. 305). It seems that Hamlet forgives her because instead of ignoring her death he was furious and he wanted to know he had killed her.
Gertrude redeems herself by the end of the play but unfortunately she was killed by the end of the play. Fortinbras, the son of Old Fortinbras had a goal of attaining all the lands that was lost against King Hamlet. He aims to redeem the death of his father and Norway’s honour by taking over Denmark. Even though Fortinbras was seeking redemption, he did not face the same consequences of death like many characters within Hamlet. Instead, by the end of the play Fortinbras “embrace[s] [his] fortune” by taking over Denmark even though may not have wished to take over Denmark in the way he did and that is with sadness over the many deaths.
Fortinbras is a character whose life was surrounded by redemption did not end with death. William Shakespeare’s best play, Hamlet has one of the most disastrous tragedies in all of English literature. Throughout the play, a common theme of redemption ran through the play. Characters sought vengeance and redemption for their wrongdoings whereas many of them faced the consequences of death doing so. John Irving’s comment that it is in life-redeeming work that everybody dies in does hold true with Hamlet to an extent. Works Cited “Hamlet. ” Enotes. com. Enotes. com, n. d. Web. 23 Sept. 2012. .