I am writing an essay on the price of revenge - based off of Hamlet. What are some specific ideas I may write about ? Or certain paragraph topics?I am writing about the cost HAMLET had to pay,...

I am writing an essay on the price of revenge - based off of Hamlet. What are some specific ideas I may write about ? Or certain paragraph topics?

I am writing about the cost HAMLET had to pay, not anyone else.

Please help me!

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hamlet, Hamlet must decide if his taking personal revenge against Claudius is worth his not only sending his father's soul to heaven (which is trapped in Purgatory) but also sending his and Claudius' soul to hell.

Hamlet's father, the revenge ghost, has placed Hamlet in a precarious moral quandary.  As a Christian, Hamlet knows that revenge is a antiquated, if not pagan form of retribution which certainly compromises him spiritually.  After all, Christians believe in forgiveness, "turning the other cheek," and "loving your enemies."  To carry out a personal vendetta (murder) against a king (regicide) would certainly cost Hamlet not only his life (by death or imprisonment) but also his soul (condemned to hell).  As such, Hamlet is spiritually conflicted: does he trust the ghost, who could be tricking him as an agent of hell?

In the end, Hamlet achieves a way to get to heaven: he is a victim of murder BEFORE he takes his revenge.  In other words, Hamlet only kills Claudius after Claudius has poisoned him.  This way, Hamlet is achieving not so much revenge but a kind of justice (immediate capital punishment) against the king.


amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many revenge plays, and in real life, violence begets violence. One death often leads to another. Call it “an eye for an eye,” if you want, but violence tends to feed on itself exponentially and this is clear in many of Shakespeare’s plays where it has become almost cliché or a parody to note how so many characters die in some of the tragedies. So, the price is simply put: the potential for more death.

There is also the length Hamlet goes to get this revenge. Claudius initiates the violence in the play and Hamlet is aware that this causes disorder and ‘something rotten’ in the state of Denmark. But Hamlet eventually accepts the disorder as a prison and focuses all his energy on his own revenge, so it becomes as much about his need for revenge as it is for his father or to restore order to Denmark. In this sense, Hamlet acts selfishly, which leads to another price: the total alienation of all his friends, family and Ophelia, whose suicide is a direct result of Hamlet’s fundamentalist attitude about this revenge, which is ‘the end justifies the means.’ So, people will suffer as Hamlet makes his methodical but unwavering march to revenge.

mitchrich4199 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To start, Hamlet pays with his life, as do many other characters in the play. With that in mind, you could certainly talk about how his actions of revenge cause these deaths. For instance, Ophelia's death comes at his hands in a way. Whether she committed suicide or not, he still blames himself for it. Additionally, he kills Polonius thinking he was Claudius. While he doesn't blame himself for this one, it has a heavy price tag. What's interesting is that you have to consider that there's a necessity for revenge as well. Does Hamlet consider all of this before he starts? Not really, BUT, when he kills Polonius, you can tell that he sees it as Polonius's own fault. He calls him a tedious old fool.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet loses everything.

People: his father, his mother, his friends, his girl

Trust: in love, in appearances, in title, in integrity, in truth

Life: his position, his hopes and aspirations, his life.

His one gain, killing the man who killed his father, costs him everything else.

ij24 | Student

You can try focusing on how the people in search of revenge and up becoming miserable for living with so much bitterness in their hearts.