"The Revenge Wrapped in Tragedy" Hamlet is more a tragedy than a revenge play. Discuss this idea by examining three essential elements of the play that make it a tragedy.

Essay by filas86High School, 12th gradeA+, January 2004

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Shakespeare's Hamlet is more of a tragedy than a revenge plot in that it follows the unfortunate downfall of a prince due to his vengeful goal rather than the honour or justice brought about by his revenge. The tragedy underlies the plot in three fateful elements: death, corruption and betrayal, themes that echo throughout the play and resonate in each character's actions ultimately leading to their own demise, whether by their own hand or someone else's. These elements are represented in the following three examples: firstly, the death of innocent characters who became wrapped up in the corruption of the royal family; secondly, the protagonist's ultimate destruction in the end caused by his actions; and thirdly, the lies and dishonesty that spill over into the most sacred of relationships, those between family and those between a king and his people, thereby destroying any glimmer of hope for a happy ending.

The first of the innocent characters to die is Polonius, the king's trustworthy advisor, whom Hamlet stabbed simply because he thought it was the King spying on his private conversation with the Queen. "How now! A rat?" (III. iv. 24.) are the fatal words spoken by Hamlet before Polonius' death. Polonius will be forever remembered as a spy and an old fool who spoke too much and was too curious about the royal family (for his own good). He died because he got in the way of Hamlet's revenge. Polonius' daughter, Ophelia committed suicide after all she was put through. Her premature demise was ultimately caused by the corruption of the royal family; her suicide is the final death of innocence, releasing of the only stopper to the turmoil filled bottle of revenge and corruption. The two things that seem to push Ophelia over the edge, Hamlet's rejection and...