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The Justification of Hamlet’s Revenge on Claudius

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is the most recognized play written by William Shakespeare and one of the most influential works in the history of world literature. The issue of revenge is the central theme of Shakespeare’s play, which concerns the main confrontation of two protagonists, Hamlet, and his uncle, Claudius. Throughout the entire play, their relationship grows into a psychological battle and ends up with the loss of both.

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In Act 1, Scene 5, the Ghost finally reveals that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, who has the vital message to convey before his return to Purgatory. However, the Ghost orders him to avenge his death and uncovers the truth about Claudius, who is responsible for Hamlet’s murder. Claudius poisoned the King through his ear while he was sleeping in the garden. Hamlet is now entrusted with taking revenge on his main enemy, which he promised to fulfill.

In the following scene, Act 2, Scene 1, Hamlet simulates insanity in order to examine the suspicious nature of his father’s murder. Ophelia, in turn, assumes that Hamlet is in love with her and behaves this way because he was rejected by his love. Nevertheless, Hamlet aims for only one mission, which is to get justice for the death of his father, as well as his mother’s betrayal. At the end of Act 3, Hamlet has a chance to kill Claudius when the King is praying, however, he doubts whether his soul will go to heaven.

One of the crucial topics to analyze in this tragedy is to reflect on the possibility of Hamlet’s revenge immediately after his final conversation with the Ghost. The events of Shakespeare’s play are considered as revenge tragedy and provide the framework for the analysis of Hamlet’s justification. The main reason for Hamlet’s hesitation is the matter of murder itself that will equate him to the offender and his father’s murderer. Furthermore, The character’s primary concern implies that committing murder by killing Claudius will not justify the murder of King Hamlet. The fierce confrontation comes to an end when Hamlet kills Claudius with the poisoned sword but is himself killed in a fencing match against Laertes.

The characters created by William Shakespeare play a fundamental role in modern society as they are closely intertwined with the leadership challenges and can be enlightening for the contemporary reader. With that said, the tragedy as well addresses ethical issues. With regard to Hamlet’s ending, it is the “morally right” outcome of the central conflict but is also “ethically and legally wrong” (Gopinath and Abraham 50). In terms of moral, ethical, and legislative norms, Claudius’ murder does not justify the intentional death of King Hamlet.

King Hamlet’s son seems to be subconsciously aware of the unlikelihood of avenge for his father’s murder. In the beginning, Hamlet questions the truthfulness of the Ghost and, therefore, the intention to take revenge on Claudius. However, the main character doubts his actions after he proves to himself the truth.

Shakespeare’s play concludes with the loss of the entire royal family and provides the audience with the open issues of justification and the sense of guilt. Hamlet’s experience of deep guilt is linked to related people because he is ordered to treat them differently after the truth is revealed. Claudius’ death undoubtedly avenged his father’s murder but cannot be considered as a legal act and, thus, the justification for revenge.

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Work Cited

Gopinath, Mohan, and Dolphy Abraham. “The Role of Guilt in Hamlet: Leadership Implications.” The EFL Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, 2015, pp. 47–57.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 19). The Justification of Hamlet’s Revenge on Claudius. Retrieved from


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