Introduction of Hamlet as a Revenge Play

William Shakespeare

Introduction of Hamlet as a Revenge Play

Shakespeare's Hamlet is considered a "revenge play."  It is during this scene that this theme of revenge first becomes evident due to the ghost's request of Hamlet. Quite specifically, the ghost asks Hamlet to "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder."  The ghost, of course, indicates who the murderer is:  "But know, thou noble youth, / the serpent that did sting thy father's life / Now wears his crown." [Here we should also note that the ghost certainly does not extend this revenge to Hamlet's mother, the queen.   We know this because the ghost warns in his monologue:  "But howsomever thou pursues this act, / Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven / And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge to prick and sting her."  As the ghost admits, Queen Gertrude will beat herself up enough with guilt.]  How does this introduction as a revenge play compare with others of its time?  Well, as was important to all Elizabethans, the divine order of things must (above all else) be preserved.  In this case (as in may other revenge plays), a corruption of this order appears in the killing of a king.  The order must be set right through revenge.  Hamlet, then, fits quite nicely within the revenge play genre.