William Shakespeare was baptized April 26, 1564 and died April 23, 1616 in his family’s home. Throughout Shakespeare’s life he was regarded as the greatest writer in the English language writing approximately 39 plays and 154 sonnets. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire and at the age of 18 married a woman named Anne Hathaway with which he had three children: Susanna and twins named Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592 he began his successful career as an actor and writer. Most known works between 1589 and 1613 are of Shakespeare’s writing, his early plays began as comedies and histories until around 1608 when he began to write tragedies such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear.
Hamlet is a devastating story of a man seeking revenge for his father, King Hamlet. The story begins on a dark winter night in Elsinore Castle in Denmark as the ghost of King Hamlet wanders seemingly looking for something. The scholar named Horatio and a few watchmen discover him and bring Prince Hamlet to him, the ghost confirms that he is the ghost of King Hamlet and that he was murdered by his brother Claudius; who has taken his throne and married his widowed wife Gertrude, he demands vengeance for his murder then disappears. Prince Hamlet devotes himself to avenging his father’s death and even seems to become mad with anger. However Prince Hamlet is smart and doesn’t rush it but instead contemplates and waits for his opportunity. A traveling group of actors comes to the kingdom and this gives Hamlet an idea to put on a play to test his uncle’s guilt by recreating a scene that resembles how Hamlet thinks his father was killed. When the scene of the murder arrives Claudius leaps up and leaves the room, Hamlet goes to kill Claudius when he is praying but believes that if he is to kill him while in prayer that he would go to heaven and this wasn’t adequate revenge for Hamlet so he waits. Hamlet goes to confront his mother but hears a sound from behind the tapestry from who he believed was Claudius and stabs the fabric, however it was Polonius that he murdered. For this he was sent to England with the secret intent of being executed by orders of Claudius meanwhile Ophelia goes mad with grief after her father’s death and drowns in the river. Laertes; the son of Polonius, comes back to find his father and sister dead and is used by Claudius in an attempt to kill Hamlet by challenging him to a fencing match with poison on the end of his sword and as a backup plan poisons a goblet for Hamlet. Ironically Laeteres is killed by the swords poison and Gertrude drinks from the goblet and died. Hamlet then stabs Claudius through with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink down the rest of the poisoned wine. Claudius dies then immediately after Hamlet dies from a cut by the poisoned sword earlier in the fight.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses revenge as the central aspect to develop the idea of death in the play. Prince Hamlet’s journey for vengeance begins with his uncle Claudius murdering of King Hamlet. Commanded by his father’s ghost in Act 1 to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” by his brother Claudius, Hamlet swears that “with wings as swift / As meditation, or the thoughts of love,’ he will ‘sweep to his revenge” (1.5.25, 29–31). However Hamlet spends most of the play contemplating and seemingly procrastinating his father’s vengeance and because of this procrastination many unnecessary deaths occur such as Laertes, Gertrude, Polonius, and Ophelia.