Revenge: Hamlet s Motivator A perfect picture: a King and Queen in love, an intelligent son worthy of becoming King, and a happy Nation, content with their rulers. It seems nothing could go wrong, until a tragedy occurs within the castle walls. This tragedy is so extreme that it breaks the whole royal family apart, and causes the young prince to go mad. Or does it? We begin Shakespeare s Hamlet after the tragedy has occurred. King Hamlet was the ruler of Denmark and the father of Hamlet. As the king was taking a nap in the garden, his brother, Claudius, poured poison in his ear. After King Hamlet died, Claudius became king. I m not totally sure why young Hamlet did not become the king, but I think it was because he was a little too young. This is where Hamlet begins. After his father s death, Hamlet dresses in black all the time, and is very depressed. He is not only upset about his father s death, but he is also disappointed in his mother. Queen Gertrude goes through almost no mourning period for her husband, and quickly marries Claudius. While Hamlet mourns, Horatio leads him to a ghost that keeps appearing outside the castle. This ghost seems to be his father, and it tells Hamlet that his death had in fact been murder, and that the new King of Denmark was the murderer. The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown, (I.v.38-39). Astonished by this news, Hamlet swears vengeance for his father s death. Hamlet is a very smart person. We learn, at the beginning of the play, that he is just coming back from a university in Wittenberg. Throughout the play, all Hamlet wants to do is go back to the university. His education causes him to have a questioning attitude, which plays a huge role in the whole play. Since he is a scholar, Hamlet is more likely to think things through, rather than act immediately. He contemplates every action, prepares for the reaction, and also weighs the consequences. When the ghost presents Hamlet with the information about his father s death, he quickly begins to wonder whether he should believe the apparition, or not. When Claudius sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet s friends, to try and find the cause for his son s madness, Hamlet quickly turns the table and finds out his friends real intentions. Hamlet instructs them to report to Claudius that he is upset with the whole situation, and that he senses something is foul in Denmark. Hamlet has the ability to manipulate, and see through people. He uses this power to perform throughout the whole play. Right after seeing the ghost, Hamlet tells Horatio and Marcellus not to let anyone know that he is pretending to be mentally deranged. Here as before, never, so help you mercy, how strange or odd some er I bear myself, that you, at such times seeing me, never shall know aught of me this do swear, (I.v.169-179). This brilliant scheme will provide Hamlet with the ability to perform very strange and unusual acts, and will not be questioned for it. If he randomly starts accusing people of murder, or if he interrupts a big dinner, or if he says things that are very inappropriate, nobody will realize what his true intentions are, because they will think that he is crazy. Hamlet uses this scheme to pursue his revenge on Claudius. Revenge causes one to act through anger, rather than reason. It is based on the principle of, An eye for an eye. This is what Hamlet wants; to avenge his father s death, by killing Claudius. Hamlet decides to change a play that will be performed in front of the King and Queen. He changes it, so it is a reenactment of Claudius killing King Hamlet. While the play is being performed, Hamlet will watch for Claudius reaction to it. If Claudius starts getting squirmy or uneasy, Hamlet will know for sure that Claudius did, in fact, kill his father. Hamlet would probably take any little movement by Claudius as a confession of guilt, because he is so angry about his father s death, and wants revenge very badly. This is why he tells Horatio, I prithee, when thou sees that act afoot, even with the very comment of thy soul observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt do not itself unkennel in one speech, it is a damned ghost that we have seen, and my imaginations are as foul as Vulcan s stithy, (III.ii.80-86). This is a great example of Hamlet using his intelligence. He asked the level-headed Horatio to help him judge his uncle s actions, knowing that he, himself, is too full of rage. When the play actually proceeds, Claudius stands up angrily, Polonius tells the actors to stop the play, and everyone leaves, except for Hamlet and Horatio. Hamlet is pleased to finally know for sure that Claudius murdered his father, and Horatio agrees. Feeling bloodthirsty, and full of rage, Hamlet wants to kill Claudius, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tell him that he will not be able to see the King right now. Hamlet decides to go speak with his mother. The ghost told Hamlet not to harm his mother, and let fate decide her future, so he figures he will not do anything to his mother. Let me be cruel, not unnatural; I will speak daggers to her, but use none, (III.iii.403-404). This is another example of Hamlet using his intelligence to control his rage. He will not go against the ghost s words, now that he is certain that the ghost really was his father. Polonius tells Claudius that Hamlet is on his way to Queen Gertrude s room, and that he will hide in the room to hear what Hamlet has to say. Claudius thanks him, and Polonius goes off and hides behind the arras in Gertrude s room. Hamlet enters very angrily, and after talking to his mother for a little bit, he hears an echo from behind the arras. Hamlet thinks it is Claudius, so he runs his sword through the tapestry. To his surprise, it was Polonius, and not Claudius, that he has just killed. This is one of the very few instances in the whole play, where Hamlet lets his rage get the best of him. With orders from Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take Hamlet to England. On the way there, Hamlet manages to find out that he is being sent there to be decapitated. After learning this, he comes back to Denmark on a ship full of pirates. At the same time, Laertes, Polonius son, comes back to Denmark seeking revenge for his father s death. Fortinbras begins to lead his army to Denmark to avenge his father s death. When Hamlet arrives, Claudius has already told Laertes that Hamlet was the one who killed Polonius, and they came up with a plan to kill him. And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe, but even his mother shall uncharge the practice and call it accident, (IV.vii.66-68). Laertes and Hamlet are forced to have a fencing duel. Before the duel begins, Hamlet tries to use his intelligence again, and tries to explain that it was not his fault he killed Polonius. Unfortunately, it did not work this time, and they begin to fight. Laertes uses his non-blunted, poison-tipped foil to wound Hamlet, who then grabs the foil and wounds Laertes. During the battle, Queen Gertrude takes a sip of the wine that was for Hamlet, which had poison in it. Gertrude collapses, and yells out that the cup was poisoned. Hamlet orders the doors to be locked, and that everything should be sorted out. During this break, Laertes realizes that everyone s death is Claudius fault. The King, The King s to blame, (V.ii.321). Overcome with absolute anger and rage, Hamlet runs through Claudius with the poisoned foil. Claudius lives just long enough to hear Hamlet denounce him as King. Hamlet orders that Fortinbras becomes King of Denmark, and he tells Horatio to tell everyone the whole story, so there will be no disrespect for the Hamlet name. Even with his last words, Hamlet uses his intelligence in appointing a new king, and clearing his name. Revenge is a dangerous emotion, which can easily consume a person s life, but, it can also be used to obtain satisfaction. Throughout Hamlet, Hamlet fought an internal battle between his intellect and his need for revenge. He allowed revenge to control his motives, but his questioning attitude and intelligence still ruled over his actions. Hamlet used his intelligence to achieve his revenge. When he made up the play, to see how Claudius would react, was purely genius, and so were all of his actions in this play. I do not think that anyone would ever pretend that he/she is crazy, to try and accomplish anything. Even though his intelligence controlled him, Hamlet s overall quest for revenge was ultimately what got him killed. The lesson learned by Hamlet is that revenge is not to be taken lightly. When acted upon, this is one emotion that can definitely come back to harm you.