The Theme of Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet
Vengeance. A vicious, violent way to make oneself feel better about an offense against them. Throughout the tragedy of Hamlet revenge is a recurring theme, amongst all of the characters. Whether this revenge is in physical form, or mental form, it is equally hurtful. Mahatma Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Ghandi is literally saying that if one person commits a revengeful act, it will create a continuing reaction of bitterness and violence throughout everyone. This quote is highly significant throughout the duration of Hamlet, as it portrays almost precisely, both the plotline of the story, as well as the conclusion. From the murder of King Hamlet to the murder of Prince Hamlet the tragedy is filled with violent acts of revenge.
The theme of vengeance is apparent within the tragedy before the tragedy even begins. King Fortinbras is defeated by King Hamlet, leaving Prince Fortinbras orphaned. This naturally brings about bitterness between Prince Fortinbras and King Hamlet. Prince Fortinbras is angry, within reason. His father was just killed, his lands stolen, and now he is the person to whom all of the duty is left. These feelings lead Fortinbras to a state of angered reactions. He prepares an army to march into Poland and Denmark to recover the lands that his father had lost. He takes action, leaving the rest of his life behind, and marching over to get retaliation against the man who killed his father. He sets his mind on what he has to do, and sets off, away from his home, in a strong, purposeful manner. When Fortinbras prepares to march through Denmark, his address to King Claudius is direct, purposeful, and unemotional.
“Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king.
Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promised march
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
If that his Majesty would aught with us,
We shall express our duty in his eye;