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Karl Pasciak
Mrs. Carter
AP Literature and Composition
6 February 2014
Hamlet: The Revenger
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: a play with a tragic ending, as most Shakespearean
plays do, is based upon the story of Prince Hamlets quest to avenge his fathers untimely death. There
are varying names that define Hamlet, he is many of them due to his being a round and dynamic
character. Each description cites varying traits he possesses, but one interpretation stands above the
others, in that, Hamlet is in fact a revenger, avenger, as he completes his revenge upon King Claudius.
As Hamlet travels down the path of revenge, his moral struggle directs the story towards tragedy: his
commitment to revenge, gaining the moral courage to act, and his reassurance in Claudius guilt.
The interpretation of Hamlets character as the revenger states that the tragedy of his story is
the based in the moral danger caused by revenge. Elizabethans believed that the act of vengeance
condemns the avenger, Hamlet; by acting out his revenge, he condemns himself. When confronted by
the ghost of King Hamlet, Hamlet pledges to wipe away all trivial fond records, / All saws of books, all
forms, all pressures past, / That youth and observation copied there; and devote his life to avenging his
father (I.v.100-02). The purpose of his life, to Hamlet, changes there to one action, revenge, which he
will achieve disregarding the penalties associated with completion. Lacking the deterring force that
normally accompany, Hamlet condemns, in whatever way it would manifest, himself from the beginning
of the play for resolving to act on the will of his dead father.
As Hamlet is searching himself for the courage to avenge his father, a band of players enter the
court and perform a scene from Hecuba, during which an actor weeps so convincingly that Hamlet
questions himself. His father was murdered in cold blood and he cannot even muster the courage to
Commented [KP1]: This should be as most Shakespearian
tragedies do
Commented [KP2]: Remove this
Commented [KP3]: And this
Commented [KP4]: Reword this
Commented [KP5]: Reword this to Hamlet condemns
himself by acting out on his revenge
Commented [KP6]: In Hamlets mind, his purpose in life is
to avenge his father. He will stop at nothing to realize his
Commented [KP7]: Remove unnecessary commas
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avenge him while this player displayed an enormous amount of emotion for Hecuba, a character from a
play. He asks himself Am I a coward? and decides to test Claudius guilt with a play (II.ii.571). As
Hamlet gains the confidence to act, he spirals downward into the condemnation of vengeance, with
each conviction of Claudius guilt Hamlet increases the amount of punishment deserved. Because the
punishment Hamlet believes Claudius deserves increases, revenging murder becomes more lucrative,
and in turn he damning his own soul.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. London: n.p., 1603. Web.
Commented [KP8]: Hecuba who is a character from a
Commented [KP9]: Expand on this