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Hamlet: Hot and Cold Revenge

  • Date Submitted: 05/19/2011 01:03 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 55.4 
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Hamlet Essay

Revenge is definitely a major theme in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. P.C Goddard in one of his quotes, very eloquently describes the two different types of revenge that are present in this play- hot and cold revenge. Goddard states that cold revenge can conceal itself, is carefully calculated and can strike at any given moment. He defines hot revenge as a passionate state of mind that can be acted on prematurely and eventually burns out. Although these two types of revenge rear their ugly heads in distinctly different forms, their destructive outcome is often quite similar. There are many examples of hot and cold revenge in this play. Particularly strong examples are evident in Act 3 Scene 2, Act 4 Scene 7 and Act 5 Scene 2 through the characters Hamlet and Laertes.
According to Goddard’s description of cold revenge, Hamlet’s behaviour certainly exemplifies this type of revenge. In Act 3 Scene 2, it is evident that Hamlet is trying to avenge his father’s death with the act of cold revenge. In this scene, Hamlet plans for the players to perform the “Murder of Gonzago.” This play depicts almost exactly the way Hamlet thinks his father was murdered by Claudius. Hamlet has meticulously calculated a plot to prove his uncle’s guilt. He has also carefully ensured that his best friend, Horatio, watches Claudius’ reaction to the play. After the staged murder is performed in the play, Claudius demonstrates his guilt by storming out of the theatre. Hamlet immediately checks with Horatio to see if he concurs that Claudius is indeed guilty. This is evident when Hamlet says, “O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a/ thousand pounds. Didst perceive?” (III, ii, 283-284) With Horatio’s confirmation, Hamlet is now certain that his uncle murdered his father and is ready to obtain revenge by killing him. Hamlet has been able to conceal his vengeful desire while ensuring Claudius’ guilt. These methodical actions fit perfectly into Goddard’s description of cold...


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