Monday, November 12, 2012

Revenge- Or Lack of

As I continue the reading, I keep thinking about the revenge theme, and how no revenge seems to be happening quite yet. I find it quite interesting that when Hamlet first encounters the ghost, he seems so willing to take action. As the play goes on, though, Hamlet still can’t seem to actually do it. By act IV, there are three revenge plots taking place. Leartes now seeks vengeance for the death of his father. Also, in the background, Prince Fortinbras is still attempting to reclaim the lands of his deceased father. The difference between these sons, though, is that the other two are taking action. They are actively attempting to get revenge. I picked up on the fact that these characters seem to contrast Hamlet by not being as conflicted as Hamlet is. They simply do what they feel is right. Rather than just simply killing Cladius, Hamlet spends a lot of time trying to prove his uncle’s guilt first. He puts on the play to see the new king’s reaction, and contemplates the situation. He is thoughtful and philosophical, and yet by act IV, his sanity is questionable. When he kills Polonius, it is an irrational, unpredicted move. He does not act as his usual, intellectual self.  It is then in act IV that he speaks to a captain under Fortinbras and learns of Fortinbras’ willingness to sacrifice the lives of many men over land. Hamlet is struggling with his own inaction, and seems somewhat impressed by Fortinbras’ ability to turn his thoughts into actions. From then on he decides that he will have bloody thoughts and will begin to act as Fortinbras has. He wants to be able to carry out a plan without giving it much thought.
Overall, I find Hamlet to be a very confusing character. I have never read this play before, but I hope his character will somehow come full circle or will at least learn something valuable. It bothers me to have such a complex character who may not resolve anything. Perhaps it is his complexity that makes him one of Shakespeare’s most well known characters.

1 comment:

Cyrus Mulready said...

It's great that you call our attention to the motivating force of the play, Sam--revenge. This very much anticipated where we were going in our discussion of the play! I'd be curious to know what you think about our concluding discussion last week. What is Shakespeare saying about revenge in Hamlet? Is the play critiquing the actions of the various revengers, or at least showing it to be futile? Or, does Fortinbras get vindicated for his actions, finally, as he takes the crown from Hamlet in the final moments?