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ACC 110
Marla Spergel

Shangara Flora 07/07/2011 Hamlet’s Course of Vengeance Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet was a play which centered on a young prince’s desire to avenge his father’s death. His father, who was killed by his brother, Claudius, reached out to Hamlet from beyond the grave to inform him of what had truly happened on the night of his death. His desire to avenge his father’s death is justified because of all that he had to undertake as well as the society and age in which they lived. Hamlet was a conflicted individual; there was no way he could have truly avenged his father’s death unless he went against his inner morals. Hamlet’s actions, from the perspective of the other characters, seemed absurd because of the insanity that Hamlet portrayed for a large portion of the play. The justice system in Hamlet’s age was one in which problems were unfairly dealt with. However, his intentions throughout the play were never misguided. He always had a purpose to fulfill his father’s wish, but he was delayed in doing so because of constant barriers to his plan. Throughout the course of the play, Hamlet is faced with the constant battle of choosing between morality and immorality. Much of this lies on the justification behind revenge; is it moral or immoral? Does he obey the wishes of his father or the heavenly Father? Much of Hamlet’s lack of sanity came from his moral confusion. Hamlet understood the result of his planned revenge is sinful and is conflicted with whether or not to follow through with his plans. In the opening line of a soliloquy of Hamlet, he said, “To be or not to be: that is the question...” (Hamlet, 3.1.57). This famous quote described the mental conflict within Hamlet. He initially did not murder Claudius because he thought he was praying, “…hire and salary, not revenge,” (Hamlet, 3.3.80) - it was not Hamlet’s intention to commit a sin by killing the King during prayer. He simply cannot send Claudius to Heaven, where he would presumably go if he was killed just after praying and purging his sins. So, he waited until it was proven that Claudius was a murderer before taking action. Hamlet was successful in displaying Claudius’ sin when he poisoned the cup that Gertrude later drinks from. In the end, Hamlet only committed his revenge after he has been a victim of it. Thus, you can argue that if Hamlet behaves morally, tragedy was bound to happen. However, considering his young age and the amount of maturity demanded of Hamlet and the strain at this brutal time, one can understand the momentary absurdness and moral confusion. Hamlet’s personal vthgeance is deemed acceptable due to the lack of a well-structured judicial system in the 17 Century. In the past, there was some sort of code of justice in Denmark, but nothing close to modern times. Raw and crude revenge was a form of justice that abruptly avoided all forms of consequence. The audience witnessed this vulgar conception of ‘justice’ by Laertes when he says: “To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!/ Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!/ I dare damnation: To this point I stand,/ That both the worlds I give to negligence,/ Let come what comes; only I'll be revenged/ Most thoroughly for my father'' (Hamlet, 4.5.129-135). “An eye for an eye” was the chastisement for such crude actions during this period in time. The concept, an ‘eye for an e
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