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Father/Son Relationships in Hamlet

            In the play "Hamlet", Shakespeare uses the father-son relationship dynamic in parallel as a device to deepen and advance the plot. The play includes the stories of three young men who have lost their fathers to violent deaths: Fortinbras, Hamlet, and Laertes. They all have similarities, yet there are distinct differences among these relationships as well as the sons' actions carried out because of their fathers. Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet share love and respect for their respective fathers. They loved them enough to attempt to enact revenge upon their murders, even at the risk of their own freedom, reputation and lives. The presence of this dynamic throughout the play touches on the themes of revenge and loyalty, and this differs for each of the three relationships. Hamlet's relationship with his father drives the events of the play into eventual tragedy, as his undying conviction to avenge his father causes him to make rash decisions. Laertes and his father Polonius seem to share a mutual loyalty, and this drives Laertes to nearly kill the king, and then kill Hamlet. Fortinbras' relationship evolves throughout the play, changing his conviction from revenge to noble and honest.
             Hamlet relationship is perhaps the most complex with regards to his father. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it does highlight the fact that King Hamlet was essentially absent from most of Hamlet's childhood. This is evident in how Hamlet describes his greatness from a militaristic standpoint and how he fails to recollect any significant personal memories, as well as his comparison of his father to Hyperion. Whatever the case, he is hell bent on listening to the commands of the ghost of his dead father and avenging his death. In the first act, he discovers the truth about the death of his father, and this causes Hamlet to be resolute in his hatred for Claudius, as well as his attempts to punish him for his wrongdoings.

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