The two stories, “Hamlet” and Gimpel the fool” portrays the code of revenge as the major theme. However, the play portrays revenge in some diverse ways with minimal similarities. For instance, Hamlet vows to avenge his father’s death while Gimpel endeavors to revenge to his dead wife and the town dwellers. The circumstances that lead to harboring of the revenge are also different. For instance, Gimpel the fool feels that the town dwellers and his wife, Elke, had tricked and deceived him. His wife was being unfaithful to him, something that she confessed to him before her death. On the other hand, Hamlet attempts to revenge on Claudius who allegedly killed his father to attain power. One similarity that accrues from the two is in the conviction for revenge. The devil appears to Gimpel in a dream and deceives him to avenge on all those who deceived and tricked him. Similarly, a ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and tells him what happened for his death while persuading for revenge against the murderer. The two plays portray revenge in other diverse ways as discussed in this paper.
The Status of Revenge in Gimpel the fool and Hamlet
In "Gimpel the Fool," the circumstances that surround the central character, Gimpel, changes him from an immature man affixed to his society to one who respects a profound truth by outdoing the dominion of society. The circumstances that trigger this change are two dreams, one that informs him and one that misleads him. Moreover, the characters that surround him dictate his growth as an individual and his change (Brown, 1). For the issue of revenge, one of the dreams deceives him to revenge against his town dwellers for labeling him as a fool. On the other hand, the push for revenge by Hamlet is very critical and serious. The circumstances that surround him are visions of a ghost who triggers him to revenge by showing him the actual occurrences that took place. In this play, Hamlet starts with memories of the deaths of two father-kings. The death of his father pushes him to revenge but it is not out of his own will. The ghost of his assassinated father stirs up the contemplations of revenge in Hamlet by the end of the act.
Just before Hamlet renders himself to the deceit of Claudis and Laertes, his extended struggle with the same idea of revenge appears to end. In this regard, there is continued abortion, deflection, or neutralization of revenge as a way of mourning (Cole, 42). On the other hand, Glimpel starts by rejecting a dream of revenge. Gimpel harbors the thoughts of revenge after the death of his wife. His wife, Elka, confessed her sins before her death. After this incidence, an evil spirit appears to him in a dream to tempt him. The evil spirit makes him this proposal: “The whole world deceives you and you ought to deceive the world in your turn, you might accumulate a bucket of urine every day and at night pour it in to the dough. Let the sages of Frampol eat filth.” Consequently, thoughts of revenge fill his mind and he decides to act according to the proposal by the evil spirit. However, prior to selling a smutty batch of bread he had made, a contrasting dream of Elka appears to him and tells him, “you fool! Because I was false, is everything false too”.
These two incidences reveal disparities and similarities in the development of revenge. The two, protagonists do not harbor the thought or revenge out of their own will. Rather, it is evident that some kinds of ghosts appeared to them and convinced them of the importance of revenge. The difference in the two characters is that Gimpel wanted to avenge against deception and tricking by the town folks while Hamlet wanted to avenge for the death of his father.
Interpretation of Revenge in Gimpel the fool and Hamlet
In Hamlet, the play portrays private revenge as a way of justifying rights and upholding public order as having negative implications. However, the play further presents core justification of the deeds of Hamlet and asserts that he had no alternative but to attempt to avenge his father (108). In the play, there is the likelihood of connecting private revenge to God’s revenge equally as public revenge links to it, when Hamlet refers to himself as “heaven’s scourge and minister.” Hamlet feels that Claudius, who allegedly killed his father to rise in power deserves. This is because Claudius is not only a murderer, but also an “adulterate beast” and thus a dishonest leader (Posner, 109). Bloom indicates that Hamlet mentions heaven and hell as the major trigger towards his revenge. Moreover, his constant procrastination raises several questions to critics, who feel that Hamlet condemned the revenge by delaying it in many times.
The play demonstrates that the reason for the delay by Hamlet is that he linked the ghost with hell. There if further contradiction on his intended revenge. This is because he doubts that it is really an evil spirit intention on deceiving him into an unfair regicide of Claudius, an act by which Hamlet would damn himself (26). On the other hand, in the case of Gimpel the fool, the feeling of love changed his disbelief. The play clearly demonstrates that Gimpel does not harbor revenge when his wife treats him in a weird way. It is also very evident that Elke beats him so much, yet he is able to tolerate her simply because he loves her. Conversely, his belief and love for her wife comes to a halt after he finds his wife in bed with another man. At this time, Glimpel decides not to believe any longer due to the incidence. Consequently, the rabbi commands Gimpel to separate with Elke for her infidelity. Nevertheless, Gimpel desires to get back to his family even after this self-consciousness and the command. This clearly indicates that because of loving her wife so much, he downsizes his wife’s disloyalty (Janik, 216).
Skulsky asserts that there is constantly the likelihood of harboring revenge, not due to lawless hatred, but because of trustworthiness to a code of respect coolly apathetic to the expressive excesses of the afflicted party. If such unconcern did not broaden to the nature of the accusation itself, it would be particularly more coherent. For instance in the play, Laertes, finds no humiliation at all in asserting to be uncertain whether Hamlet's claim (79) of incorruptibility may still be undesirable to credit, although applicable in nature (80). In the case of Glimpel, the revenge takes a different direction from that of Hamlet. For instance, Gimpel finally encounters the deception that has occurred on him after the death of his wife. Consequently, this leads him to the two consecutive dreams that change him into a man bounded only by genuineness. The first dream is of deception where the deceiver is the devil and leads to his transformation. Initially, Gimpel tolerated his wife since he loved her and did not harbor revenge. After this dream however, he starts contemplating revenge mostly to his fellow city dwellers after the conviction from the Devil.
In the dream, the devil convinces him that there is no afterlife and there is no God. He triggers him to have vengeance on all those that wronged and deceived him. Consequently, this dream surprises Gimpel very much since he is a person who is very sincere and ethical even though the Dream revealed the level of deception by Elke and the town folks. At this point, Gimpel still felt that the society had deceived him. This prompted him to internalize the revenge and act upon it after his own thoughts and rationalization yet deceives him. The play demonstrates Gimpel subconsciously doubting the eternal life that he so devotedly believed in after the devil tells him that there is no God. Since Gimpel followed the orders of the devil, it is evident that he no longer cared about the society due to harboring revenge (Brown, 4).
According to Hamlet, revenge is an indulgence of the fallen will and the honor that professes to control it while on the other hand it gets its will once more through legalism. It is evident that Hamlet was not entirely satisfied despite accepting revenge in its extreme but with honor: it is "a fantasy and trick of fame." There is a sense of ambiguity about ghost's origin, which compounds the difficulty. The irregularity of Hamlet's position is due to different factors, which includes the thought that revenge is a counsel of the devil in the form of faith and that the ghost is a spirit of health, as the concluded by Prince (Skulsky, 84). Hamlet presents his toughest case against personal revenge on the practical instead of the ethical level. In addition, the typical revenge mistake Hamlet made was allowing the control of emotions before they cooled down. It is evident that emotion had taken control of him when he sacrifices the chance to kill Claudius at prayer to ascertain that his punishment is everlasting. There lacks textual foundation for the opinion that Hamlet might not be so cruel as to wish to damn Claudius for perpetuity and that consequently the reason he provides for sparing him ought to be an excuse (109). Hamlet feared that the ghost could be a devil making him holdup his revenge until he ascertained that Claudius was guilty. However, his reservation about the ghost’s validity could also be an excuse for delay (Posner, 110). On the other hand, after twenty years of marriage Elke and Gimpel had six children. However, Elke admits that Gimpel had not fathered any of her children before she died. Gimpel avoids losing eternal life when he accepts Elke’s warning in a dream that he should not be as false as she was and he consequently buries the dirty dough. It was after this that he decided to believe in God rather than the devil (Janik, 217).
According to Claudius, it was unmanly and abnormal for Hamlet to continue grieving. It was a rather threatening occurrence when Claudius made it clear that he did not hope that Hamlet would go back to school in Wittenberg. Instead, he wanted Hamlet to stay at Elsinore. In addition, it was a deep displeasure for Hamlet about his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius (7). It was in Scene 5 that the ghost directs him to seek revenge against the king after disclosing to him the details of the death of his father. The ghost claims that his brother Claudius “poured poison in his ear as he slept in his garden.” However, the ghost forbids Hamlet from taking revenge on his mother, who was to remain to heaven and her own guilt. Although there are clues that he may not be the most suitable avenger, Hamlet takes the ghost’s charge seriously. For example, he agrees to seek revenge “with wings and swift as meditation or the thoughts of love”, a weird comparison (Bloom, 8).
It was through Gimpel's second dream that there was initiation of another change, which notably transforms his character. After this second dream, Gimpel was no longer naïve but was free from the resentment and revenge he had after the first dream. He found a balance that he was neither tricked by falsehoods, nor clutched too tight to society and all its lies but he adopted truth and believed truly in life. Gimpel decided after this dream to leave his town lastly ready to travel around the world (Brown, 5). Glimpel regarded his former tormentor, Elka, with gentleness and respect to the end, following this encounter. In his dreams, he saw her as beautiful and full of consolation. However, Gimpel’s fictions could not give him the sweetness of an enemy re- appearing as a friend, and hence a life without foes (105). Glimpel has come to the realization that life on earth is a life of entire literature, and the mere promise of conviction is in the afterlife. Consequently, he affirms that when death comes, “he will go joyfully” because he is not afraid of death. He also deemed that whatever will be there would be genuine, without ridicule, without deception and without complication (George, 103). This assertion means that the contemplation of revenge by Gimpel was not very strong and did not last for a long time. It also means that Gimpel clearly and wholly transformed after the incidence.
Hamlet ratifies his ambivalence toward the beloved dead through his inclusion of his father’s spirit. Tabooed hostility was apparent through Hamlet’s impersonation of his deceased father. It is in the last act that he reclaimed the name, which he first spoke to the ghost. The conditions denied Hamlet the performance of ambivalence openly as a mourning heir (43). In his mind, Hamlet made a luminal journey. However, he became haunted whenever he tried to remember what he wished to remember. Hamlet allowed his former self to die when he took up the character of the deceased with revenge (47). Since Hamlet is dramatizing and observing, two killers rather than one, Revenge becomes his signal for action. Concurrently, Hamlet is killing his father and avenging his father’s death (Cole, 50). Hamlet is indignant, and obviously so. On the other hand, the play portrays Claudius as a hypocrite tippler, a weakling a creep, and a commoner that disinherited a very greater man of his wife, position and life. Moreover, the play portrays him as one who has disposed another greater man of his expectation of the kingship, in inheriting his father (116). Due to the occurrences that happened, Hamlet hates himself, women and certainly the whole of humanity (Posner, 116). It is vital to make out that Hamlet, in spite of the fresh backing of his ethics, his new tranquility and his generous and irregular concern for blameless onlookers, has not disavowed his objective to exterminate the soul of his adversary. Certainly, the wellbeing of his sufferers' souls has come to concern him so little that he even sends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz "to abrupt death (Skulsky, 86).
The theme of revenge emanates very strongly in Hamlet’s case and somehow narrows in the case of Gimpel. In the case of Hamlet, revenge demonstrates the act of mourning. In this case, Hamlet is mourning his dead father hence contemplates to revenge against the killer by murdering him. The murderer, Claudius on the other hand believes that the action that Hamlet is about to make does not have any justification. The issue of revenge for Hamlet also raises critical questions due to his procrastination. On the other hand, Gimpel contemplates revenge because the people around him deem him as a fool. First, his own wife fools him by making him believe that the children they had were his. She then discloses her betrayal to him, before she dies. Due to this, Gimpel feels very much betrayed and hence attempts to revenge. The only difference from that of Hamlet in this case is that he does not revenge on his wife, but rather on the town dwellers, who deems him a fool.