Hamlet is a story known as a Revenge Tragedy at the end of the sixteenth century. People with certain levels of power in this time period were likely to get away with criminal activity. Law officials of this time were unable or unwilling to catch these people to make them pay for their crimes. Revenge was a common way of settling disputes and old scores.
Belleforest retold a story from a 12th-century Latin work, the Historiae Danicae, by Saxo Grammaticus, first published in 1514. “Saxo provides the earliest complete account of a legendary tale—ninth-century fragments are known from the Icelandic sagas—of Amleth, a Danish nobleman who took revenge after his uncle killed his father and married his mother”(48). The name Amleth, from Old Norse, means ‘dim-witted’ or ‘brutish,’ in reference to his stratagem of feigning madness after his father’s murder. Many other elements of Hamlet—including a dramatic encounter between Amleth and his mother, during which he kills a spy; his love affair with a beautiful woman; his exile to England and his escape by replacing the order for his execution with one condemning his escorts—are present in Saxo’s account.
The second characteristic form the meditation on the instant of death, is the most germane to Hamlet and to the Revenge. “These extension, attribute largely to the noble and brooding mind of the revenger, are well expressed by him as thoughts”(Jorgensen Pg.48). Hamlet is seen as a violence person as it is said, “ Many of the subsequent violent elements-the murder of polonius, the leaping into Ophelia’s grave, the fatal duel with laertes.” Jorgensen(Pg.48). “It gives to the play not only plot but also what we have called the tragedy passion.” Jorgensen (Pg.47).
“It is only Hamlet’s extrovert fooling and his displays of madness that draw claudius attention to him. Hamlet’s antic disguise, in other words, fools claudius not for one minute.” Davies (Pg. 73). “Although , we can see how Hamlet’s pretended madness and foolery help to disguise his motivations in a chaotic show of misdirection and evasion.” Davies (Pg.73). The thought of deliberate murder to his father was very revolting to Hamlet. Hamlet was wondering whether his dad was a good or evil ghost. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as well as Polonius, were constantly spying on him. He planned to have the players enact before the king and the court a scene resembling the one that, according to the ghost, had taken place the day the old king died. By watching Claudius during the performance, Hamlet hoped to discover the truth for himself. (Pg. 35).
When the queen summoned Hamlet to her chamber to reprimand him for his insolence to Claudius, Hamlet, remembering what the ghost had told him, spoke to her so violently that she screamed for help. A noise behind a curtain followed her cries, and Hamlet, suspecting that Claudius was eavesdropping, plunged his sword through the curtain, killing old Polonius. Fearing an attack on his own life, the king hastily ordered Hamlet to England in company with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who carried a warrant for Hamlet’s death. The prince discovered the orders and altered them so that the bearers should be killed on their arrival in England. Hamlet then returned to Denmark. “Only Hamlet, a man on whom rests what G.Wilson Knight calls,” the embassy of death,” remains darkly alone.” Jorster (Pg. 49). “The play concerns the purging, partly by revenge, of a corrupt society.” Jorgensen (Pg. 48).
Hamlet has learned from the Ghost of his father the terrible story of the latter’s murder by his brother, Claudius, who has usurped the crown and married the murdered King’s widow, Hamlet’s mother. The Ghost has made Hamlet swear to avenge the crime, and Hamlet has undertaken to assassinate Claudius. Now, conscious of the terrible duty that he, a scholar rather than a man of action, has taken upon himself, he muses on the possibility of suicide as an escape from his task. “Shakespeare found compelling interesting during these years and probably never again a protagonist who is not primarily of heroic stature.” Jorgensen(Pg.48)
However, one passage in Hamlet—2.2.336–358, describing the competition of the Players with a troupe of child actors—clearly refers to the War of the Theaters, a rivalry among acting companies that dominated the London theater in the spring of 1601. If Hamlet was written in 1600, then this passage must have been inserted later. Some scholars, however, hold that Hamlet was written in its entirety in early 1601 and that either Antonio’s Revenge was Shakespeare’s source rather than the other way around or both Marston and Shakespeare took their common materials from the Ur-Hamlet.
Hamlet is unavailable to her as a stable romantic hero or as a potential husband: his show of madness. Is Hamlet a hero, then or a villain? Can a madman, or a revenge for that matter be ethnically consisten?