The Avengers of the Tragedy of Hamlet
11 April 2004

The Shakespearean play, Hamlet, is a story of revenge and the way the characters in the play respond to grief and the demands of loyalty. Revenge causes one to act blindly through anger, rather than through reason. Hamlet, Fortinbras and Leartes are all very different people with different lives, but as these men interact in the play we learn that there are many circumstances surrounding them that connect them. Young Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet were all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers, but they all had a very different way of conquering the object of their hatred. The way the each comes to terms with their grief and how they rise to the call of vengeance is one of main contrasts between the three.

There were three main families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These were the family of King Fortinbras, the family of Polonius, and the family of King Hamlet. The heads of each of these families are all slaughtered within the play.

Fortinbras, King of Norway, was killed by King Hamlet; slain by sword during a man to man battle. "Our valiant Hamlet-for so this side of our known world esteem\'d him-did slay this Fortinbras." Fortinbras is the son of Old Fortinbras, King of Norway. Through a "seal\'d compact,"(Act 1, 1:89) the lands of Old Fortinbras are forfeited to Denmark. As a mark of honor, Fortinbras vows to avenge his father\'s death and reclaim the territory lost. As a result Fortinbras levied an army to attack and conquer Denmark.

Fortinbras tends not to be active in the play, more often, he is spoken of. Fortinbras is the converse of character to Hamlet: the scholar and the soldier, the man of procrastination and the man of reason and action. When Fortinbras\' forces pass through Denmark, Hamlet chances to speak with one of the soldiers of the Norwegian army. Hamlet compares himself to Fortinbras, "...How stand I then?"(Act 4, 4: 56) and reproaches himself for procrastinating whilst admiring the action- orientated intelligence of Fortinbras.

Laertes is a young man whose good instincts have been somewhat obscured by the concern with superficial appearances which he has imbibed from his father, Polonius. Polonius was an advisor to the King, and father to Laertes and Ophelia. He was nosy and arrogant, and he did not trust his children. He was killed by Young Hamlet while he was eves dropping on a conversation between Hamlet and his mother. "How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!" Laertes response to the death of his father is immediate. He is publicly angry, and he leads the public riot occurring outside Castle Ellsinore, which Polonius\' death and quick burial served as a catalyst. He is suspicious, as is evident in his speech to Claudius. "How came he dead? I\'ll not be juggled with. To hell, allegiance!"(Act 4, 5:130). He confronted the King and accused him of the murder of his father. Claudius told Laertes that Hamlet was responsible for his father\'s death. He then decides to kill Hamlet to avenge the death of his father. He and Claudius concoct a plot to kill Hamlet. Laertes was fast to act, he wanted revenge and he wanted it immediately; he is not concerned with punishment. Laertes is concerned with the physical and the present, "That both the worlds I give to negligence,"(Act4, 5:134) he declares.

Hamlet however is very private with his grief. His mourning for King Hamlet is long and drawn out, two months after his father\'s death, he is still observed to be wearing "...suits of solemn black."[(Act1, 2:78) Claudius and Gertrude comment on his unhappiness, however it is not until Hamlet\'s first soliloquy that the audience is made aware of the depth of his suffering. Although dismayed at his mother\'s quick remarriage to his uncle, Hamlet suspects nothing of his father\'s murder until the ghost discloses this to him. Hamlet was deeply sorrowed by his father\'s death. He spoke to the ghost, and this ghost stated that his father\'s death was a murder, by the hand of his uncle, Claudius. "The serpent that did sting thy father\'s life now wears his crown." Hamlet was astonished, and then swore vengeance for his father’s death.

Although Hamlet wants