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Explore Shakespeare's presentation of justice and retribution in Hamlet (paragraph on honour and masculinity)

Justice and vengeance are two of the most significant themes in Hamlet. 

The entire play is based on the theme of seeking vengeance. Act I plays an important role in setting Hamlet off on the said path, as the ghost asks him to act in a certain manner:

"If thou didst ever thy father love...Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder."

Following this act, Hamlet tries his best to do as the ghost said. In the process he jeopardizes everything in his life, including his true love Ophelia. The themes also reflect the darkness that can follow while blindly pursuing a particular path. 

While Hamlet’s vengeance for his father’s death gathers the most attention, there exist other traces of revenge and thirst for justice as well. For instance, Laertes wishes to seek justice for the death of his father named Polonius. It’s interesting that the character for Hamlet that wanted nothing else but justice for his father’s dead soul, was himself in danger for murdering someone else’s father. Laertes wanted revenge from Hamlet, who had mistakenly killed his father while he was in his mother’s bedroom. 

Shakespeare explores the themes of retribution and justice while giving heed to the different shades of them. While Hamlet sincerely wanted revenge, he ended up losing his path (going astray to stray from his real mission of avenging the King’s death) that led to his downfall. Laertes, even though wanted the main protagonist out of the picture, seemed to possess some heroic traits as he in all sincerity wished to avenge the death of a loved one. 

Even though Hamlet’s emotional approach toward things (that eventually leads to his downfall) is conceived as going against the mainstream notions of masculinity, it should be noted that the desire for revenge and willingness to shed blood to attain justice offer a flavor of typical masculine behavior. The lines about preserving the honor through performing certain actions also portrays a typical sense the socially constructed notions of masculinity.

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