“Evil is always devising more corrosive misery through man's restless need to exact revenge out of his hate” (Ralph Steadman). Hamlet, who recently lost his father who was murdered by Claudius, dedicates his life to revenge after the ghost of his father has told him of the treachery in Denmark. Through the play Hamlet struggles with completing his simple task of avenging his father’s death and murdering his uncle Claudius because Hamlet has to make sure the ghost was not a demon playing a trick upon him. Hamlet is branded mad by most of Denmark; most people believed his madness was rooted with the loss of his father, and swift remarriage of his uncle and mother; however, Hamlet wanted to appear mad to help him in masking his fulfillment of his father’s wishes of revenge. In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, revenge seems to be the most common course of action shared between the characters; however, revenge is satisfying in nature but causes more harm than it does good as seen by Hamlet killing Claudius, Laertes avenging his father’s death, and Fortinbras getting back his father’s lost land.
To begin, Shakespeare demonstrates through Hamlet’s urge for vengeance he wants so badly towards Claudius which revolves around the entire play to illustrate the effort and time put into revenge when it in end is more destructive. For instance, when Hamlet is talking to his father’s ghost and the ghost asks hamlet to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare 1.5.23). The purpose of Hamlets life after this point is to avenge his father; thus, in fighting for his vengeance he loses many friends, loved ones, and even the public begins to look down upon him. The revenge he puts so much effort into getting him causes him to lose more than it was worth. In addition, when Claudius is speaking with Polonius who correlates Hamlets madness to his love struggles with Ophelia Claudius says to Gertrude that “Do you think ’tis this?”(Shakespeare 2.2.143). Hamlet, being a prince, is watched by many people and Claudius is not the only person who will question his madness; thus, Hamlet’s craft of madness hurts his reputation, and make many people question the reasoning of Hamlet’s madness. To add on to his reputation being torn, Hamlet does not have a group of true friends to rely on when he is down so his madness causes him to go through these struggles more alone than he would if was not mad. Connecting these two ideas, Hamlet’s plot of revenge requires him to act mad; thus, his revenge is enacting his loneliness and his loss of a good reputable name. For example, right before Hamlet finally avenges his father and kills Claudius he yells out that “Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, / Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? /Follow my mother” (Shakespeare 5.2.320-322). Hamlet expresses all his pain Claudius has brought him in his last line to Claudius; however, Hamlet never realizes that is was his fulfillment of revenge that caused all of his downfalls. In other words, Hamlet sees through his revenge all the hate and death that was brought taking out all his anger on Claudius when in reality it was himself who caused the pain. Overall, Hamlet fulfills his father’s wishes by killing Claudius; however, it is the cause of the death of many close to him including his mother, Ophelia, and his own as well causing more pain and hatred than if he had not revenged his father’s death.
In similarity to Hamlet avenging his father’s death, revenge being more destructive than it is constructive is shown through the vengeance Laertes commits to whoever murdered his father. Although his vengeance is much a-like to Hamlet’s, Laertes actually wants revenge on Hamlet. For instance, when Laertes is talking to the king about these crimes against his father he states “ay my lord, so you will not o’errule me to a peace” (Shakespeare 4.7.96) As long as Laertes doesn’t have to be peaceful