Essay by Spurs21duncan1A+, April 2004

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While reading the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, I realized that many of the characters are overwhelmed with anger. Throughout the play numerous characters are what today's society would call "backstabbing." Each of them only thinking about himself and or the hurt that someone else has caused. From Lord Hamlet's killing of the elder Fortinbras to Claudius' killing of King Hamlet to the accidental death of Polonius, we find the motivation for three characters in Hamlet to seek vengeance.

One character that seeks vengeance is Polonius's son Laertes. Prince Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius (who was standing behind the curtain spying on Hamlet and Queen Gertrude). Hamlet mistakes Polonius for Claudius and is grief stricken when he finds out he has killed Polonius instead. Laertes, who has been in France, returns to Denmark in a mad fury. He marches to the castle and demands that Claudius tells him who is responsible for his father's death.

Not only has his father been killed, Laertes also finds out that his sister Ophelia, who goes mad with grief, has drowned in a nearby river. Once Claudius has convinced Laertes that it was Hamlet who killed Laertes father and sister, Claudius and Laertes concoct a plan to kill Hamlet with a poisoned sword and or a cup of poisoned wine. Laertes strikes Hamlet with the poisoned sword and draws blood, but Hamlet does not die immediately. Hamlet then strikes Laertes with the same sword, and Laertes reveals to Hamlet that Claudius is responsible for the death of the Queen. Laertes soon dies, and Hamlet then stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink the rest of the poisoned wine. Shortly after Claudius dies, Hamlet dies also.

Another vengeance seeker is the young Fortinbras. Fortinbras is upset by that fact that King Hamlet killed Fortinbras's father. Fortinbras seeks revenge by leading an army to Denmark. At the end of the play Fortinbras marches to the Elsinore Castle. Fortinbras and the English ambassador enter the castle and go into the room where Hamlet and Laertes were fencing. Fortinbras finds a gruesome scene with the entire royal family lying on the floor dead. He moves to take power of the kingdom and is soon declared King of Denmark. After declaring Fortinbras King of Denmark, Fortinbras orders for Hamlet to be carried away like a solider. Not only did Fortinbras become King but he also showed his sorrow towards the royal family that is lying dead on the floor.

Another character to seek revenge is the young Hamlet himself. In the beginning of the play, a mysterious ghost appears. It is the late King Hamlet who has come back to inform his son Hamlet, that Hamlets father was poisoned by Claudius, who is his own brother. The ghost of King Hamlet orders him to seek revenge upon the man who took his throne and married his wife. Hamlet, who is devoted to avenging his father's death, begins to plan how he could kill his "uncle-father," who is Claudius. Hamlet comes up with an idea to have some actors perform a scene similar to his father's death and waits for Claudius's reaction. When Claudius reacts to the scene, Hamlet realizes that Claudius is guilty. Hamlet goes to kill Claudius but Hamlet finds him praying and decides that if he kills Claudius while in prayer, Hamlet would be sending Claudius's soul to heaven. At the end of the play, Claudius concocts a plan to have Laertes and Hamlet fence. Claudius is killed by Hamlet with the poisoned sword, which is intended to be used to kill Hamlet. Hamlet kills Claudius not only for the death of Hamlet's father, but also for the death of Hamlet's mother.

In the ending, each of these characters has successfully conquered what he has set out to do. Laertes killed Hamlet with the poisoned sword, Fortinbras became the King of Denmark, and Hamlet killed his fathers murderer. Each of these characters had his own method of seeking revenge. Laertes wanted to seek revenge right away and wanted whoever was responsible for the death of his loved ones killed. Fortinbras sat back and waited for the right time to make his move. Hamlet pretended to be crazy and wanted Claudius to suffer just like King Hamlet did.