The use of revenge tragedy structure thus allows for the story to be fulfilled and those who are guilty of moral corruption to be punished as a sense of balance is restored. Shakespeare’s Hamlet successfully portrays this restoration through a contextual exploration of the conflict of the human mind when faced with morality versus duty. Hamlet’s personal struggle of conscience has remained intriguing to responders throughout time. This is due to the skilfully executed dramatisation of the character and the events, leading us all to question the strength of our own morality when faced with disillusionment and hardship.
Back at Elsinore, Hamlet explains to Horatio that he had discovered Claudius's letter with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's belongings and replaced it with a forged copy indicating that his former friends should be killed instead. A foppish courtier, Osric , interrupts the conversation to deliver the fencing challenge to Hamlet. Hamlet, despite Horatio's pleas, accepts it. Hamlet does well at first, leading the match by two hits to none, and Gertrude raises a toast to him using the poisoned glass of wine Claudius had set aside for Hamlet. Claudius tries to stop her, but is too late: she drinks, and Laertes realizes the plot will be revealed. Laertes slashes Hamlet with his poisoned blade. In the ensuing scuffle, they switch weapons and Hamlet wounds Laertes with his own poisoned sword. Gertrude collapses and, claiming she has been poisoned, dies. In his dying moments, Laertes reconciles with Hamlet and reveals Claudius's plan. Hamlet rushes at Claudius and kills him. As the poison takes effect, Hamlet, hearing that Fortinbras is marching through the area, names the Norwegian prince as his successor. Horatio, distraught at the thought of being the last survivor and living whilst Hamlet does not, says he will commit suicide by drinking the dregs of Gertrude's poisoned wine, but Hamlet begs him to live on and tell his story. Hamlet dies in Horatio's arms, proclaiming "the rest is silence". Fortinbras, who was ostensibly marching towards Poland with his army, arrives at the palace, along with an English ambassador bringing news of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's deaths. Horatio promises to recount the full story of what happened, and Fortinbras, seeing the entire Danish royal family dead, takes the crown for himself, and orders a military funeral to honor Hamlet.
A rather pat, black and white interpretation of an infinitely subtle play. The Prince of Shakespeare is a far more ambiguous, even at times sinister figure. It is not the prick of conscience that stops him from killing Claudius when he could but the horrendous intention of consigning his enemy’s soul to hell, something that might be thwarted by his present repentant mood. Is that the fruit of a Catholic conscience? Hamlet’s atrocious treatment of his mother, Ophelia and the bumbling Polonius, especially the latter’s dead body is not very Catholic is it? And his prolonged dithering did result in a stageful of corpses at the end, didn’t it? Shakespeare’s psychological and ethical perspective is far deeper than a mere clash of worldviews would suggest. I agree he was writing against revenge, but not in the simplistic way displayed in the above essay.