REVENGE

Yet revenge tragedies were popular at the Globe theatre. The excitement of watching someone, who had been grievously wronged and whom the law would not help, take justice into his own hands and through various plots and stratagems punish the villain, was nail-biting stuff.

In the play, as the ghost ( I.v. 9-23) reveals the story of his murder, Hamlet is forced to take on the role of revenger earlier suggested by his black clothing. So at the start, he shows no doubts or hesitations(I.v. 29-31), but later he will think again about killing Claudius immediately.

The typical revenger of Elizabethan tragedy is a violent bloodthirsty and single-minded figure, but Hamlet is too intelligent to ignore all the difficulties associated with his task.

-First: is the ghost telling the truth? So Hamlet has to be sure that Claudius killed his father to get the throne of Denmark(III.ii. 237-242).

-Second: is the revenge legitimate? In the Elizabethan England, revenge was considered a crime and a sin, like a contemporary of Shakespeare, Francis Bacon said: “revenge is a kind of wild justice”. Revengers could be arrested for murder and their souls were thought to be damned.

-Third: is the revenge prudent? Claudius seems to be a popular and effective king; nobody will thank Hamlet for murdering, or believe his story of a ghost. He is likely to be arrested and executed.

But the biggest problem for Hamlet is the truth of the ghost’s words. So to prove what the ghost said, he tries to deceive Claudius and only when he understands that Claudius is really a murder, he explodes and kills Polonius and Claudius. The revenge has been delayed till the end of the play and this is a typical characteristic of revenge tragedies.