Revenge is defined as “...a desire to do harm in return for a wrong; returning evil for evil; vengeance” (Webster Dictionary). Revenge is an extremely powerful tool which, if not used properly, can cause more detriment then benevolence. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, several of the characters are compelled to restore family honor by exacting vengeance. Young Fortinbras reclaims his father's lost honor by gaining territory; Hamlet must avenge his father's murder by killing Claudius; and Laertes must avenge his father and his sister by exacting revenge upon Hamlet. Each character is driven and controlled throughout the play by this desire and need for revenge.
Young Fortinbras’s motive is to regain the land that his father has lost to Hamlet’s, now deceased, father. Over the years, Fortinbras has brewed up a plan to avenge his father’s death. He has lived in Norway for many years, undisturbed by the Danish Crown, which has had its own problems in the past, including the death of their king and the reelection of an incompetent, know nothing king. With Claudius, the new King in power, Norway is able to go on with their plans of reconqu
These actions, indirectly, cause him to murder Hamlet. On the other hand, rather than approach vengeance as a task to be carried out in the most acceptable fashion, which is serene and halcyon, Hamlet and Laertes fix themselves on murder as the only means of revenge. Laertes, like Hamlet, allows his base emotions to rule him, and he becomes a cohort of the evil Claudius. On the contrary, he is a determined, all power to himself type of king who seeks to retake the land once lost by his father. Shakespeare depicts vengeance in the most brutal of its forms, by death. Laertes"tm seems to be like Nora in Ibsen"tms "A Doll House," always following orders and not thinking independently. He is just at the right place, at the right time, which allows him to take revenge in a pacific but yet very effective way, with little effort. Laertes"tm inspiration to kill Hamlet comes from the deaths of his father and sister. Through this self-concerning attitude Shakespeare shows that internal conflict is the main force that compels the revenge in the three characters, Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet. Norway has been like a tributary state to Denmark ever since the battle of the two late Kings. To Laertes"tms unawareness, it was not Hamlet"tms intent to kill his father. This newly acquired truth is only an addition to Hamlet"tms troubles. Hamlet killed his father and caused his sister"tms madness and later death.