Justice and Revenge in Hamlet

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Table of Contents

2011 4

(i) Revenge and justice are finely balanced themes in the play, Hamlet. 4

Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the text. 4

2011

(i) Revenge and justice are finely balanced themes in the play, Hamlet.

Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with suitable reference to the text.

Hamlet is the perfect parable to demonstrate how one person’s actions can cause a catastrophic chain of events, its main theme being revenge, which is the driving force of the play’s plot. 

In Hamlet, we see both Hamlet and Laertes striving to achieve the same goal, to avenge their father’s murders.  Throughout the play, Hamlet’s actions cause a chain of reactions that has a negative impact on other people’s lives.  For example, in avenging his father’s ‘most foul and unnatural murder’, Hamlet also kills Polonius and mistreats Ophelia, thus contributing to Ophelia’s decision to commit suicide and inspiring Laertes to seek revenge. 

This, above all of the play’s events, begs the question, is justice truly the ultimate outcome of seeking revenge? Undoubtedly, they complement each other in various ways, but Hamlet serves to demonstrate how one person’s pursuit of justice is often to the detriment of others. 

When we first meet Hamlet, he is a grieving, confused, depressed man who cannot comprehend the hasty marriage of his mother to his uncle.  He deems the relationship ‘incestuous’, and goes on to describe his father as ‘a Hyperion’, wher...

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