"Hamlet" Essay on Revenge.

Essay by aleemHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2005

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"If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him."

Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare (I, ii)(1)

Once upon a time, there lived humans who lived in caves, and used sticks and rocks as tools. During this time, there was no need for complex human emotion, or higher level thinking, just the pure, and raw will to live. The law of the land was based on the theories of retribution and revenge - "an eye for an eye." These feelings are considered to be part of basic human nature, something William Shakespeare used to portray in one of his most popular, if not best play, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Although many of Shakespeare's plays, like the Merchant of Venice, portrays this theme of revenge, it is more focused on in Hamlet, which amplifies the theme through the main characters of the story: Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, nephew of Old Fortinbras; Old King Hamlet, who was killed by his brother Claudius; Prince Hamlet, the son of Old King Hamlet; and Laertes, the son of a Lord Chamberlain, Polonius.

The first notion of revenge is introduced by the first character to bring a sense of conflict to the story - Young Fortinbras, Prince of Norway. The son of a slain king, Fortinbras seeks vengeance on the entire country of Denmark, even though the sole responsibility for his father's death was caused by a battle he had with Old King Hamlet. Fortinbras, son of the slain King of Norway, is the first to seek revenge. Horatio, a friend of Hamlet's, said, "As it doth well appear unto our state, but to recover of us by strong hand and terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands so by his father lost..." (I,