Who "wins" in Hamlet? How?

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byanyothername eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Quick answer: No one! The more involved answer: Morality oozes from the lines of Hamlet. While the foundation of the play is clearly revenge, it can certainly be seen as a lesson, not in how to revenge oneself upon his or her enemies, but on the downfalls that follow revenge. Hamlet’s world is turned upside down by his quest to revenge his father’s death by killing his murderer, Claudius. He finds himself trapped in indecision, unable to act. The actual revenge act, to kill, could be very simple but instead Hamlet spends his hundreds of lines (more lines in fact than any other Shakespearian character) deciding how best to act and not actually acting. Because Shakespeare views the act of revenge as simply amoral, he makes it almost impossible for his hero to accomplish. Instead Shakespeare sends Hamlet into a world of mental torment. He ponders his own death more heartily at times than the planned death of his uncle. In the end we see that revenge is more of a curse than the original crime that is being revenged.

Shakespeare conveys this truth in many ways, one of which is the estrangement of Hamlet from Ophelia. It isn’t until she has died that Hamlet is able to see what his quest has done to her, and then still he is unable to desist. In the end, when nearly all of the major characters of the play lay slain, Shakespeare has truly shown the reality of revenge. While it is true that Claudius is among the dead, Hamlet (and the reader) must know that the revenge is certainly not sweet. No one wins.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Unfortunately, no one "wins" in this, the ultimate tragedy. Hamlet is wounded and dies after he is cut by Laertes poison-tipped sword. Gerturde has drunk from the spiked cup meant for her son. Ophelia has died days before from grief, her father preceding her in death at the hands of her lover, Hamlet. Hamlet manages to kill the treacherous Claudius before he too dies. Laertes is wounded. Fortibras, sensing the vacuum in power, is headed to conquer the Denmark. I suppose if anyone is the "winner," it might be he.

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whatever2wrd | Student

i really dont think anyone wins because they all die for the most part except the townspeople who were watching the fight as you would call it.

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arjun | Student
It is very strange question. Even the child can give its answer by saying Hamlet. In dramas or moves, importance is paid to hero, and he has proved to be hero having won the ground. It is widely accepted that Hamlet is in double Dutch. At the end all characters die, but one thing must be admitted that virtue is rewarded and vice is punished. In Hamlet, the tussle is between hero and villain, and it is shrewdness of the villain who opposes the other to him. So it is compulsory to eradicate the bad thing and for that the hero wants heroism. Hamlet fights against him but fortune favours the villain and delay takes place that stands against the hero. The hero has to tolerate sorrows given by his mother, by the death of his beloved and by skillfulness of his uncle. Laerates comes to avenge of his sister, though Hamlet did not kill but loved her. At last duel takes place between Hamlet and Laerates. During fight, Gertrude takes poisonous drink unknowingly, kept for the winner .she dies and Hamlet kills Claudius. Both the warriors are wounded by the poison-tipped sword. He takes revenge and at the end he dies, for he is a tragic hero. Through this element he wins pity. His dying at the end, wining pity is the proof of his success because the audience accepts him as the hero and the winner. All the characters play role to get him won the ground .So his success is posthumous.
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