A great chain of events in “Hamlet”, Shakespeare’s great revengetragedy, leads to Hamlets own demise. His necessity for subterfuge allows him toinadvertently neglect is main objective, revenge. So much so that the ghost ofhis dead father appears to stipulate Hamlets reserved behavior towards hisfathers revenge.
“Do not forget. This visitation is to whet thy almostblunted purpose,” (83-84) says the ghost in a motivational manner whichalmost suggests a lack of faith on Hamlets behalf. Nevertheless, Hamlet isoverflowing with faith. Faith in god, faith in himself, even faith in his deadfather’s ghost a faith that will cost him his life.
The untimely”Death” of King Hamlet, Hamlets father, has sparked a disturbance inthe regularity of Denmark. Hamlets mother has waited “Not so much, nottwo” (12) months after the Kings death to remarry and her new husband, whocoincidentally is King Hamlets brother, has swiftly embraced the throne. As theplot unfolds, King Hamlets ghost appears to young Hamlet. He explains thecurrent dilemma and elicits a vengeful feeling from Hamlet, providing youngHamlet with purpose, to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”. (25) At first, Hamlet is weary of this appearance, but he compromises histhoughts and put his faith in the ghost. In addition, the ghost even evokes avow of allegiance from Hamlet.Order now
However, at this juncture in time, Hamlet findshimself in a state of disbelief. “And shall I couple hell?” (26)speaks Hamlet once the ghost has departed, suggesting that Hamlet is verydoubtful. However, his doubts are subsequently invalidated at the performance of’The Murde! r of Gonzago’ where he requests a group of players to enact asimilar murder to that of King Hamlets. “I’ll have these players playsomething like the murder of my father before mine uncle.
. . . The plays the thingwherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King”. (55) Towards the end of theplay, Claudius hastily removes himself from the crowd, verifying Hamletssuspicions.
Now, Hamlet not only possesses every reason to believe the ghost,but entrusts his faith in the ghost as well. However, Hamlets faith does not liesolely in the ghost. He has another kind of faith faith in himself. Hamletsbelief that he can see through his revenge blatantly exemplifies his faith inhimself. In several instances, Hamlet requires himself to act mad “To putan Antic disposition on” (30) if you will.
His real life performance is soconvincing, that it arises concern in several characters such as Claudius,Gertrude (Hamlets mother), and Polonius. Regardless of whether or not theseindividuals involve themselves for their own purposes this dramatizationperformed by Hamlet requires the highest degree of faith. Hamlet himselfprofesses “That ever he was born to set it right” (30) referring tohis very existence as a device, a device which will “Set it right”conclusively demonstrating his faith in himself. Moving forward, in a subsequentscene to Claudiuss’ dramatic exit, Hamlet is offered an opportunity to exact hisrevenge upon Claudius, who is seeking atonement for his misdeeds.
In one foolishmoment, Hamlet spares his uncles’ life. His belief is that if Claudius were todie during confession, Claudiuss’ spirit would ascend to heaven and Hamlet willnot accept this. Hamlet figures he will wait until “He is drunk asleep, orin his rage, or in th’incestuous pleasure of his bed, at game a-swearing, orabout some act that has no relish of salvation in’t, then trip him”. (80)Hamlets obvious plan is to wait until Claudius sins, and then avenge his father.
This move cost Hamlet his life. Hamlets previous decision was based upon hisbelief in divine purposes. Since he was avenging his father for a decent, moralpurpose god will be on his side. Hamlet himself speaks, “My words fly up,my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go”, (80)indirectly suggesting that words or actions, combined with thought, will findtheir way to heaven.
Hamlets evocations point towards a belief in divinity. Thisbelief leads to the death of Polonius, and furthermore to the death of Hamlet. In the next scene, Hamlets fate is sealed. Polonius, the “Wretched, rash,intruding fool”, (81) was up to his old tricks, while Hamlet accidentallyslays Polonius mistaking Polonius for Claudius.
Later on, Laertes returns toavenge his father. “How came he dead?” (99) asked Laertes. Upon hisdiscovery of Hamlets actions, Laertes becomes embodied with grief. Claudiusquickly takes advantage of this by manipulating Laertes to duel Hamlet. Laertes,under the influence of Claudius takes his fury one step further and poisons hissword, a poison so lethal that one cut will end Hamlet. During their duel,Laertes wounds Hamlet then “In scuffing”, they exchange swords.
Hamletwounds Laertes and they are both poisoned. In the remaining moments, Hamletlearns of the Poison, “The point envenome’d too! Then, venom, to thywork. ” (134) exclaims Hamlet as he strikes Claudius down, and they allparish. Hamlet gets his revenge. But to do so, he must sacrifice the lives ofGertrude, Polonius, Laertes and himself.
He consequently entrusted his”Faith” into both the right place, and the wrong place because gotwhat he wanted, however died during the process. Hamlet displays his faith inhimself when he was willing to sacrifice his own life to avenge his father. Heproves this by proclaiming his understanding, and compassionate feelings towardsLaertes plight, “For by the image of my cause I see the portraiture ofhis”, (124) Hamlet says, suggesting he understood that he was destined todie. We furthermore see that Hamlet does not lose faith in his fathers ghost.
The ghosts’ second visit demonstrates this when he inspires Hamlet to finallyfinish what he has started. And as for faith in divinity, Hamlet himself remarksthat a divine power controls our purposes when he says, “There’s a divinitythat shapes our ends” (121)Shakespeare