Choose one of the themes of Hamlet as your topic. Include quotes and also feel free to include Biblical or other references to support your analysis.

The theme of revenge is prominent in Hamlet, one of the books written by William Shakespeare. Macmillan English Dictionary defines revenge as “something that you do to hurt someone because they have hurt you or someone else.” (1274). Revenge is the main theme in Hamlet. The theme is depicted in the play as Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, attempts to avenge the murder of his father. Hamlet plan a revenge on the current king, his uncle Claudius, for killing his father, marrying his mother and forcefully taking over the kingship. Hamlet was heir to the throne. In Hamlet, act one scene five, the Ghost reveals to Hamlet about the murder.  “The serpent that did ting thy father’s life now wears his crown” (79).  Even as the Ghost speaks to Hamlet, it does so in private, an act that reveals that the Ghost is also out for revenge against his brother (77-83). The revenge is depicted by the Ghost’s utterance to Hamlet: “So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear…I am thy father’s spirit.”  (77).

As fate would have it, Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius, the father to Laertes, his best friend, while trying to carry revenge against his uncle. Infuriated by the death of his father, Laertes wants to revenge by killing Hamlet. Hamlet eventually gets an opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying and have his revenge. But after thinking about the matter, he decides not to. Hamlet believes that killing Claudius while he is praying would not be revenge but would sent him to heaven. “And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven – And so am I revenged? ” (183).

The Ghost re-appears the second time. It is unhappy that Hamlet has not carried out any revenge against Cornelius. “This visitation is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.” Also, the Ghost instructs Hamlet to comfort his mother, the Queen, who is troubled by his son’s behavior. “Step between her and her fighting soul…speak to her.” (193).

Fearing for his life, Claudius banishes Hamlet to England. Claudius then sends two gentlemen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on Hamlet. He asks them to make plans for Hamlet to be assassinated in England. “The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England: For like the hectic in my blood he rages, And thou must cure me.” (211).

Revenge rages on in the play. When Claudius hears that Hamlet has returned to Denmark, he conspires with Laertes, Polonius’s son, to have Hamlet murdered. Laertes will fight with Hamlet but Laertes will use a sword with a poisoned tip. In the fight, Hamlet hits Laertes first but refuses to drink from the king’s laced wine. Instead, triumphed by Hamlet’s progress, Gertrude drinks it and dies. Laertes cuts himself by his own sword and then he reveals to Hamlet that the Claudius is responsible for the Queen’s death. Laertes manages to wound Hamlet, but Hamlet does not die immediately. Later, Laertes dies. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword. He forces him to drink the remaining laced wine. Claudius dies. Hamlet then dies after having his revenge.

There are also other examples of revenge in the play. Hamlet’s father had killed the king of Norway in battle. Norway’s king, the son of the slain king, wants to revenge on Denmark. In act two scene two, Polonius, Voltemand and Cornelius reveal that the old, ailing Norway king – the  brother to the late King Fortinbras, has managed to stop his nephew, the young Fortinbras, from attacking Denmark. In return, the old man requests Denmark to support Fortinbras’ campaign against Poland by allow Fortinbras to pass through Denmark en route to Poland. Throughout, Hamlet is right in his search for revenge and his action is supported by the Bible. Moses in Leviticus of the Holy Bible says “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death… If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him…fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.”


Bibles, Crossway. “Leviticus 24: 17-22.” The Holy Bible English Standard Version, Containing

the Old and New Testaments: Pew and Worship Bible. Kindle ed. Wheaton,Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2007. Print.

Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. 2nd ed. Oxford: Macmillan Education,

  1. 1274. Print.

Shakespeare, W., (1973). Hamlet.  Londo, UK: Macmillan Educational Limited. Print.


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