Andrew Brian 11-17-96 Fresh Sem. IIRevenge or Scruples?Vengeance is mine, sayith the Lord. What does this mean? Ibelieve what the Christians meant it to mean is that we, as humans, have noright to seek revenge, that only the Lord has the right to decide when totake revenge.
We say this, but do we follow it? No, I think not. We all tryto take revenge into our own hands, in one form or another. Revenge is one strong theme that holds throughout Hamlet. We seePrince Hamlet try to execute a kind of private vengeance, an eye for an eye,which is completely opposite of the Christian teachings. Hamlet is a manwho believes in heaven and hell and who feels that a man who challengesdivine ordinance will ultimately face judgment. We might look at the ghostof the late king Hamlet as the part of us that wants to take vengeance into ourown minds.
Like the little voice in our heads that tells us to do something,when in our hearts we know it is wrong. When Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus tell Hamlet of their sighting ofthe ghost, Hamlet agrees to join them that night and see if he can observe theghost firsthand and possibly speak with it. That night when Horatio,Marcellus, and Hamlet sight the ghost, it beckons Hamlet to leave the othertwo and speak to it in privacy. Hamlet follows, despite the protests of theothers, who fear it may be an evil spirit, disguising as King Hamlet in orderto gain their trust.
Horatio suggests that it may lead him astray and then”assume some other horrible form / Which might deprive your sovereignty ofreason / And draw you into madness. . . ” (I, iv, 80-82).
Hamlet insists onlistening to the message of the ghost. Although he does not state it, perhapsHamlet subconsciously considers that Horatio is right, that the ghost is indeeda false messenger sent to trouble him. Hamlet does not kill Claudius immediately following his encounterwith the ghost because he is unsure of the ghosts accusations of Claudiusand does not want to murder him without proper motive. Hamlet wouldsuffer in the eyes of the people if he were to murder Claudius, the reigningking, and claim his motive was the words of a ghost. Hamlet alreadydisapproves of Claudius due to his marriage to Hamlets mother, Gertrude, sosoon after the death of her first husband, King Hamlet.
Prince Hamlet feelsthat the widow did not sufficiently mourn and that the marriage is incestuousdue to the relation between the late husband and the new groom. The timingof the marriage causes Hamlet to suspect that Claudius and Gertrude had anaffair during her marriage with King Hamlet. Despite this, most Danes seenothing wrong with the marriage and express no suspicions about KingHamlets death. Because he must expose Claudiuss murder of King Hamletin order to legitimize his own murder of Claudius, Hamlet can notimmediately kill Claudius and explain his motive later, once he is guilty ofmurder. He must first find proof that Claudius did in fact do wrong thatbrought about his fathers death. Some of Hamlets opportunities for killing King Claudius are poorlytimed, most notably following Claudiuss expression of alarm after watchingan enactment of the murder of Gonzago.
This is a time when Claudiussimage has been tarnished and the people may be suspicious of him inconnection to the death of King Hamlet. However, when Hamlet goes to theroyal chambers to confront him, but finds Claudius kneeling in prayer. Now might I do it, now he is a-praying, And now Ill do t. And so he goes to heaven, And so am I revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven.
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge. He took my father grossly, full of bread, With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May; And how his audit stands who knows save heaven. But in our circumstance and course of thought Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged To take him in the purging of his soul, When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No.
Up sword, and know thou a more horrid hent. (III, iii, 77-93) Hamlet decides that if he were to kill Claudius during prayer, Claudiuswould be sent to heaven, which would not be the proper revenge he seeks, soinstead, Hamlet decides to wait and take his life at a time he is in sin. Hamlethesitates and analyses the situation of each assassination opportunity in alikewise manner. Instead of simply acting on an opportunity he considerseach consequence of the timing and circumstances; each time he decides,”The time is out of joint” (I, v, 210). After promising his fathers ghost that he will gain revenge onClaudius for the “foul and most unnatural murder” (I, v, 31), Hamlet letsopportunities to murder Claudius pass by, waiting for a time when all willrealize he is right in the act so that Claudius will die in shame. He hesitatesbecause he is unsure the ghost was indeed his fathers ghost, he can not besure that Claudius did murder King Hamlet, and because there are timeswhen Claudiuss soul and/or public image would benefit from Hamletsdeed, thus he would not die a villains shameful death.
In the end Hamletdoes accomplish this goal of revenge and Claudius is known to be the villain,but due to the delay in the murder, both Hamlet and his mother, QueenGertrude, also join the two kings among the realm of the deceased. I believe that humans have a craving for revenge and thisunquenchable thirst is depicted in Hamlet. But I do not feel that anyway,man or god, has the right to take revenge. I believe that this is one wall thatHumanity must climb before it is to reach the next plain of evolution. Weneed to look past what others do and try to show them why it is wrong andhow they not only hurt others, but themselves as well.
When we become oneas the human race, then we shall be able to move out of the rut we have beenin for centuries. How we approach other people determines how quickly weevolve, how quickly our life questions are answered. You must becompletely open as are the people who bring you messages. They will helpyou by opening you up.
And they will fill you with warmth and energy. (The Celestine Prophecy) I do not remember seeing Hamlet trying tounderstand his step-father, nor did he try to help him see what he had donewrong. No, he only saw anger and hatred. He let this hatred eat him insideand control his actions.
So I see Hamlet as a reflection of the rut thathumanity is stuck in. So I now end with this one question; do two wrongsequal a right one?Category: Shakespeare