|This paper is a discussion of violence in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play’s actions hinge on a murder and, by the end, eight more people have died violently. Yet the greatest violence is done to the living (in some cases, driving them to kill), and Shakespeare uses all these acts as a cautionary tale. In Hamlet’s own words, “I must be cruel to be kind” (III IV 1003). Through violence, he argues for clemency and empathy.
Before the play begins, Hamlet’s uncle has murdered his father in order to secure the throne for himself. Claudius then claims Hamlet’s mother as his queen, seducing and distracting her from questioning her father’s death.
Yet the restless ghost of the murdered king demands vengeance, and his haunting appearances set the actions of the