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Brian Barnes
Mrs. Amy Carter
AP Literature
Feb. 6, 2014
Mad Vengeance
Revenge is a powerful motive and can drive any decent man to extremes. Prince Hamlet
has placed himself in the tribal ethic of an eye for an eye by seeking to kill his villainous uncle.
Throughout The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Hamlet pushes aside everything in his
distracted globe (Hamlet I.v.98). Revenge drove Hamlet mad in his pursuit to honor his
fathers ghost and caused the death of those closest to him.
Hamlet (wipe[s] away all trivial fond records) (Hamlet I.v.100) so that the ghosts
commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of [his] brain (H I.v.103). The
young prince lets Ophelia leave him and upholds his honor by denying he every loved her. Of
all the facets of life that he abandoned for his quest, Ophelia is the only one that he regrets
openly. We know this because he mourns over Ophelias death and jumps down into her grave.
Shakespeare describes Hamlet with his visage waned, Tears in his eyes, distraction in
his aspect, [and] A broken voice (Hamlet II.ii.513) as he declares himself a rogue and peasant
slave (H II.ii.509). His task has been set and he works to accomplish it no matter what he ends
up portraying himself as. Prince Hamlet hasnt completely gone mad, he realizes that the ghost
may have been the devil and he also knows that the devil hath power Tassume a pleasing
shape (H II.ii.562). To make sure that his uncle is of guilty conscience, he alters the play to
show the same murder technique that his uncle supposedly killed his father with, which he will
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observe his uncles looks, If he do blench (H II.ii.561) then Hamlet will exact his revenge
upon King Claudius.
Hamlet is in such a mindset of revenge that he cannot just kill Claudius while he is a-
praying (Hamlet III.iii.74) because he would go straightway to heaven. This is not revenge
(H III.iii.80), his soul, as damned and black as hell (H III.iii.95), must rot in hell with no hope
of salvation. Hamlets vengeance is being fueled by his growing hatred towards his uncle has
caused him to seek Claudiuss eternal suffering, not just repay what he commit himself.
Hamlet has completely and utterly given himself to the cause of revenge. Placing the
death of Claudius above all else, he devotes his entire being upon this one task. Revenge. To
inflict punishment. Hamlets vindictiveness exemplifies how revenge can destroy a man and
take away everything that he has gained.

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Works Cited
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. N.p.: Nicholas Ling, 1603.