Shakespeare uses therevenge theme to create conflict among many characters. Revenge causes one toactblindly through anger, rather than through reason. It is based on theprinciple of an eye foran eye, but this principle is not always an intelligent theory to live by. Young Fortinbras,Laertes, and Hamlet are all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers. There are threemajor families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These are the family of KingFortinbras, thefamily of Polonius, and the family of King Hamlet.
The heads of each of thesefamilies areall slaughtered within the play. Fortinbras, King of Norway, is killed byKing Hamlet; slainby sword during a man to man battle. “our valiant Hamlet-for so thisside of our knownworld esteem’d him-did slay this Fortinbras. ” This entitled King Hamletto the land thatwas possessed by Fortinbras because it was written in a seal’d contract. Polonius is anadvisor to the King, and father to Laertes and Ophelia.
He is nosy andarrogant, and hedoes not trust his children. He is killed by Young Hamlet while he iseavesdropping on aconversation between Hamlet and his mother. “How now! A rat? Dead, for aducat,dead!” King Hamlet is the King of Denmark, and Hamlet’s father. He haskilled KingFortinbras, only to be killed by his brother, Claudius.
“My offense isrank, it smells toheaven; A brother’s murder?” Each of these events effects the sons ofthe deceased in thesame way, it enraged them. Shakespeare uses the revenge theme to create conflict between Hamlet andClaudius. In Act I, scene 5, Hamlet is visited by the ghost who was hisfather. The ghostmakes Hamlet aware of his murderous death when he tells Hamlet of howClaudius hadkilled him. The ghost says this to Hamlet regarding Claudius, “Revengehis foul and mostunnatural murder. ” This is where Hamlet is first introduced to therevenge plot betweenhimself and Claudius.
Hamlet wants to insure that the ghost really was hisdead fatherbefore he kills Claudius. To do this Hamlet has people act out the death ofhis father infront of Claudius and declares him guilty by his reaction to the play. “O good Horatio, I’lltake the ghost’s word for a thousand pound. ” Hamlet declares Claudius’guilt to Horatioand now realizes that he must continue on with his revenge plot.
The conflictbetweenHamlet and Claudius is delayed by Hamlet but does eventually occur in thelast scene. Hamlet’s mother has just died, Hamlet has been sliced by Laertes’ poisonsword, andHamlet has just struck Laertes with a fatal blow when Laertes says that thiswas allbrought on by Claudius. Hamlet, now realizing that there is no more time forhim to delayhis revenge, stabs Claudius and kills him. Revenge was the motive for theconflict betweenHamlet and Claudius. Every one of the three eldest sons has one thing in common, they all wantrevengefor a slaughtered father.
In the time in which this play is set, avenging themurder of afather was part of one’s honor, and had to be done. All of the three sonsswearsvengeance, and then acts towards getting revenge for the deaths of theirfathers. YoungFortinbras is deeply enraged by the death of his father, and he wants revengeagainstDenmark because of this occurrence. Fortinbras wanted to, by force, regainthe lands thathad been lost by his father to Denmark. “Now sir, young Fortinbras-as itdoth well appearunto our state-but to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsive,those foresaidlands so by his father losta” Claudius sends messengers to talk toFortinbras’ uncle, thenew King of Norway.
He forbids Fortinbras to attack Denmark, and insteadconvinces himto attack the Poles to vent his anger. “His nephew’s levies, which tohim appear’d to be apreparation ‘gainst the Polack; But better look’d into, he truly found it wasagainst yourhighness. On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys, receives rebuke fromNorway, and,