Perhaps the most important, dramatic, tragic, violent, and gory scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the last scenes in which a duel between Laertes and Hamlet turns into the death scene of more than four major characters, including Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes and Hamlet. Traditional death scenes involve the death of just one character and in some cases that is dramatic enough, but this death scene is huge, involving the death of almost all major characters. This scene not only leaves the audience in complete awe and utter shock, but also helps illustrate one of the many meanings of the work of Hamlet as a whole: tragic events lead to revenge, and in turn, revenge leads to more tragic events. Life is an endless vicious cycle in which the quest for revenge only leads to demise.
Since the beginning of the play, Hamlet is told by the ghost of his father that he needs to avenge his murder by murdering Claudius, his father’s brother and murderer. Throughout the play, Hamlet seeks ways in which to do so, and in the process of doing that, he ends up causing more harm than good. By pretending to be crazy, Hamlet throws off other characters, causing them to speculate about the origin of his madness. This, in part, leads to Ophelia’s death, which also, in part, leads to Laertes’ quest for revenge against Hamlet. Hamlet’s goal was to ultimately avenge the unjust murder of his father, but in doing so, he caused more death, killing Polonius, Laertes’ father.
In order to avenge his own father’s death, Laertes (with the help of Claudius) decides to challenge Hamlet, his father’s murderer, to a “friendly” duel. In order to assure Hamlet’s death, he poisons the sword, and Claudius poisons a cup of wine that will be given to Hamlet during the duel. Yet, this plan does not work, and in fact, it backfires. Gertrude unknowingly drinks form the poisoned cup of wine and dies, and later Laertes, Hamlet, and Claudius are all hit by the poisoned sword....
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