Revenge has caused the downfall of many a person. Its consuming nature causesone to act recklessly through anger rather than reason. Revenge is an emotioneasily rationalised; one turn deserves another. However, this is a verydangerous theory to live by. Throughout Hamlet, revenge is a dominant theme.Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet all seek to avenge the deaths of their fathers.But in so doing, all three rely more on emotion than thought, and take a verybig gamble, a gamble which eventually leads to the downfall and death of all butone of them.
King Fortinbras was slain by King Hamlet in a sword battle. Thisentitled King Hamlet to the land that was possessed by Fortinbras because it waswritten in a seal’d compact. “our valiant Hamlet-for so this side of ourknown world esteem’d him-did slay this Fortinbras.” Young Fortinbras wasenraged by his fathers murder and sought revenge against Denmark.
He wantedto reclaim the land that had been lost to Denmark when his father was killed.”Now sir, young Fortinbrasas it doth well appear unto our state-butto recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsative, those foresaid lands soby his father lost” Claudius becomes aware of Fortinbras plans, andin an evasive move, sends a message to the new King of Norway, Fortinbrasuncle. The king forbade Fortinbras to wage an attack against Denmark, andinstead suggested he attack the Poles to vent his anger. Fortinbras agreed tothe plan, but had no intentions of following it. Polonius was King Hamletsadvisor and the father of Ophelia and Laertes, both of whom respected and lovedhim, despite his arrogant demeanour. Young Hamlet murdered Poloniusaccidentally, thinking him to be the king eves dropping on a conversationbetween Hamlet and his mother.
“How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat,dead!” Laertes returned home immediately after hearing of his father’sdeath and confronted the King, accusing him of the murder of his father. OnceClaudius told Laertes that Hamlet was responsible for his father’s death, he andClaudius concoct a scheme to kill Hamlet using a poison tipped sword.”Hamlet, thou art slainThe treacherous instrument is in thy, unbatedand envenom’d” Hamlet does indeed die as a result of wounds inflicted byLaertes, but it is the poisoned tipped sword that causes the demise of Laertesas well. King Hamlet ruled Denmark and was the father of Hamlet. He had beenslain by Claudius, his brother, who had since laid claim to the throne.
WhileHamlet mourned, he encountered the ghost of his father, who made him aware thathis death had in fact been murder, and the guilt laid squarely on the shouldersof Denmarks new King. “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life nowwears his crown.” Astonished, Hamlet swore vengeance for his fathersdeath.
His efforts to prove his uncles guilt are hindered by hisindecisiveness until he finally kills Claudius, while he himself is dying ofpoisoned wounds caused him by Laertes in their duel. “The point envenomedtoo! Then venom, to thy workHere, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,drink off this potion,-is thy union here? Follow my mother.” This left theClaudius dead, and King Hamlets death avenged, but at a grave cost to Hamlet.It is the lack of thought used in exacting their revenge which led to the deathsof both Laertes and Hamlet. The plan Laertes devised with Claudius to killHamlet with the poisoned tipped sword would have been successful, had theythought that the sword might be used against them, and panned accordingly.Laertes himself is at fault for his death for believing Claudius accusationsthat Hamlet had murdered his father. If not for his own blind rage, Laertes mayhave listened to Hamlet’s explanation and apology for the murder of Polonius andcould have avioded his early demise. “I am satisfied in natureto myrevengeI stand aloofand will no reconcilementBut till that time, I doreceive your offer’d love like love, and will not wrong it.
” Instead hechose to fight Hamlet. He and wounds him fatally with the poisoned tipped sword,however, their swords become switched, and Hamlet inflicts the same wounds onwith as those that had been inflicted on him. It is by these wounds that Laertesdies.
Hamlets opportunities to kill his uncle were plentiful. However, hisrage over-rided his intelligence and he waited; hoping to catch Claudius at atime he was committing an act of sin to strike him down, forcing him to spendeternity in a world of eternal damnation. “Now might I do it pat, now he ispraying;A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do thissame villain send to heaven.” Unfortunately for Hamlet, the only sinClaudius commits is the poisoning of his own nephew. Young Fortinbras was theonly character in the play who exacted his revenge without dying. He regains hisfathers land, without use of violence, simply because Hamlet, Laertes andClaudius had all killed each other. His patience saved his life; Hamlet andLaertes haste had caused their deaths. Hamlet named him new ruler of Denmarkbefore he dies, making him the new King of Denmark.
A fitting end to Fortinbrasintelligent, thought out plan to exact revenge for his fathers death. Revengecan be an invaluable tool to amass success and wealth, or it can be a fatal flawthat guarantees immanent death. It is a dangerous emotion, which can easilyconsume, however it can be used to great satisfaction.
Perhaps it is thesequalities that lead us to allow ourselves to act on its impulses. The lessonslearned by both Hamlet and Laertes are something that should be remembered.Revenge is not to be taken lightly. When acted on this is one emotion that candefinitely come back to haunt you.Shakespeare