Is Hamlet’s Revenge Justified?

In the play “Hamlet”, William Shakespeare raises an essential theme of revenge. The main character considers answering back for his father’s death committed by his uncle, King Claudius, a usurper of the throne. Being a hostage of his idea, prince Hamlet considers revenge the proper action to restore justice. With an endless love for his father, hatred for his uncle, and a strong desire to fight evil, Hamlet decides to murder King Claudius, and with these intentions, his revenge can be called justified.

Prince’s Hamlet purpose in revenge is followed by sincere feelings for his father, whom he respects and loves with all his heart. “So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother”, says Hamlet about him (Shakespeare, 39). The prince was also not given any choice when a ghost shared facts about the end of his father’s life. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”, says the ghost to Hamlet (Shakespeare, 26). Faced with such overwhelming facts, the prince realizes that only he can fight for justice and honor.

Hamlet’s revenge is dictated by his hate for King Claudius, who personifies evil both for the prince and the society. It is clear that the actual right to the throne has always belonged to Hamlet, and Claudius, without any morality, took place through spilling blood and disrespect. Without actions answering for the cruel murder of his father, the character and the authority of Hamlet as a prince of Denmark can suffer. Hamlet claims that failing in revenge will make him a “rogue and peasant slave” (Shakespeare, 577). That is why the intention of the main character can be called justified as he is fighting for fairness, position in society, and his own life. For the community, leaving this action without an answer can also be harmful. Hamlet understands that a king whose hands are clouded with blood cannot give a good example to society. Immorality continues in King Claudius’s actions which are primarily seen when he suggests killing Hamlet to Laertes.

However, both Hamlet and Laertes wish to revenge fathers’ deaths following the principles of pagandom. One of the significant values of paganism was revenge for the spilled blood of the relatives, especially those closely connected. Then the revenge must be done with no exception, and gods bless it. The period described in Shakespeare’s tragedy is referred to far later times as the university in Wittenberg and the castle Elsinore, both mentioned in the play, were founded in the sixteenth century. Values in society have changed over time, but the nature of humans stayed immovable. The tragedy shows the conflict between Christianity and paganism because in the Christian world, justice is judged by court and laws, and one that commits a crime should be punished.

The issue of the justice of Hamlet’s revenge motives takes a central part of the tragedy. It is hard to judge the main character as life is rarely fair. It is also hard to blame Hamlet for the wish to pay back his father’s murderer as he was fighting for his father and himself, and society. Hamlet has always understood that no matter what choice he makes, it will follow him till the end of his life. Hamlet’s intentions mostly have a decent origin which is why his revenge can be called justified.


Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Bantam Books, 1988.

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