Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet And Father

Shakespeare: Hamlet

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There are many different reasons why Hamlet must avenge the death of his father
the late King Hamlet. The aspect of justice versus revenge is a prominent theme
throughout the play. Prominent characteristics in each of the characters seeking
revenge shows the different aspects of what each character feels is justice.
Hamlet is notoriously known for being a man of action. This characteristic
hampers the chain of events that follow after his father’s slaying. There are
many reasons why Hamlet wants to avenge his fathers murder, and justice and
revenge play a big role in when and where his revenge on Clauduis is played out
There is the revenge that he feels must be carried out to save his families
name. One of the most common themes is an “eye for an eye”, and this is
shown many times through out the play. This is the main difference in the
revenge that hamlet seeks compare to that of the characters foil Laertes. There
is also the problems and the turmoil Hamlet goes through with on when and where
he must get revenge for his father, because he is having trouble justifying the
murder himself. Critics argue weather or not hamlet waited too long to seek his
revenge on Claudius. Weather or not this is a justifiable act is up to the
reader. In an article entitled, Hamlet and Two Witness Rule” by Peter R.
Moore, the work of two scholars is used to draw compelling arguments for both
sides of the issue of the murder being justifiable. Scholar S.F. Johnson says
there are certain books in the bible calling for revenge as the right thing to
do in the case of murder. He cites, Numbers 35:30 “Anyone who kills a person
is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But not
on is to be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” “This permits or
commands a man whose next of kin has been slain to kill the slayer”(Moore1).
Therefore is makes Hamlet unaccountable towards God for his actions. Eleanor
Prosser the second scholar in his article claims, "Numbers requires the
avenger to act immediately and without hatred or malice"(1). This seems
more plausible an argument for justifiable murder if it is a heat of the moment
act. Moore agrees with Johnson on this matter however saying, "Johnson is
quite right, as several aspects of Mosaic Law on avengers of blood were in
Shakespeares mind when he penned Hamlet…"(1). This makes a strong case
for why Hamlet should have acted earlier if he was wandering about the
repercussions for murder in the eyes of God. This is the part of the play were
the old phrase "an eye for an eye" comes to play. Hamlet would only be
giving Clauduis what he deserves. If murder were justifiable in some severe
cases then why did he wait for so long? Boris Pasternak's views on why Hamlet
waited so long is this, "The real problem of Hamlet's character concerns
not his procrastination, but rather the fact that living in a world where evil
reigns, he finds himself every moment in danger of succumbing to the general
infection. Even while preparing to carry out an act of justified vengeance, he
causes, in the process, unwarranted pain. How to remain pure in circumstances
where evil is unavoidable-here is one of the major human problems rising from
the tragedy."(France 23) This shows more insight into why Hamlet waited as
long as he did before getting his revenge. He is a good person at heart and does
not want to lower himself to the level of his uncle who is "A little more
than kin, and less than kind"(1.2.65). When one looks at the thought and
turmoil Hamlet goes through it is easy to see the difference in the personality
traits of Hamlet and Laertes and the different ways they go about achieving
their revenge. One critic Boris Pasternak said of Hamlet" He is not at all
a young man, but and aggressive heretic, burning with joy of struggle, drunk
with struggle with an unequal struggle: against him is forces, his only weapon
is thought"(France 25). This is where is where the main difference between
the two characters is seen. While hamlet and Laertes are both honor bound to
avenge the murder of their father they go about it in different ways. Laertes is
a man of action, filled with impulse. He admits his own treacherous nature, and
he does it with great pride. "Why, as a woodcock to mine own spring, Osric;
I am justly killed with my own treachery"(5.2.317). Laertes murders Hamlet
in a church thus widening the gap of their differences. Laertes is a foil of
hamlet throughout the play for these reasons.

BibliographyBevingtom, David. "Twentieth Century Interpretation of Hamlet: A
Collection of Critical Essays." Discovering Authors. 1968. Pg. 1-12
"Hamlet" Bloom, Harold. Bloom's Notes: William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Broomall, PA, 1996. Doloff, Steven. "Shakespeare's Hamlet." The
Explicator, vol. 52 Pg. 69-70. 1994. Dominic, Catherine C. Shakespeare's
Characters for Students. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1997. France, Karen. Boris
Pasternak's Translation of Hamlet. Harvard Press. 1974. Moore, Peter R.
"Hamlet and the Two Witness Rules." Notes and Queries, vol. 44 Pg.
498-504. Dec. 1997. Scott, Mark W. Shakespeare for Students. Detroit, MI: Gale
Research Inc., 1992. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1985.
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