Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

It is commonly said that if you play too close with the fire, you are going to get
burned. This generally means that if you live a dangerous lifestyle, then you will
eventually falter and suffer the consequences. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there are many
cases where characters are killed because they lived a murderous lifestyle. Claudius
murders his own brother and is then murdered himself. Laertes kills Hamlet but is killed
himself before Hamlet dies. Hamlet murders Polonius and Laertes avenges his father by
killing Hamlet. The lives and deaths of these three individuals are inextricably
interwoven. Their destinies are forged by the others actions. To attempt to separate the
life and death of each separate character would be impossible because their destinies are
so closely tied together. Each one’s destiny is determined by the actions of not only their
life but also the reactions of others.
Claudius, King Hamlet’s brother, desires to have more power than he currently
has. He devises and executes a plan to murder his brother, the king by placing poison in
the sleeping man’s ear. The king dies from the poisoning, and Claudius exclaims that the
king must have been bitten by a snake and died from the venom. “The serpent that did
sting thy father’s life now wears the crown.” (p 29) It is the perfect crime except that
young Hamlet gets wind of the evil deed from the ghost of his father. Hamlet is told that
the only way to put his father’s soul to rest is to right the crime that was committed. So
Hamlet sets his sights on proving that Claudius murdered his father. Hamlet devises an
ingenious plan to trap Claudius. He rigs a play to portray the same murder that Claudius
commits. “You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife” (p 79)
Claudius is very shaken by this and stops the play. Later on, Hamlet is speaking to his
mother and chasticizing her on her inappropriate behavior. Polonius, Alert’s father, is
listening in on the conversation from behind a large tapestry. When Polonius speaks,
Hamlet send his sword through the tapestry and kills the old man. Claudius and the
queen send Hamlet away. After many trials, Hamlet returns to Denmark. He is
challenged by Laertes to a duel. Hamlet does not know, however, that Laertes and
Claudius are planning to kill him. Laertes cuts Hamlet with a sword containing a lethal
poison, thus condemning Hamlet. “A hit, a very palpable hit.” (p 142) Hamlet then
plunges his sword through Laertes. Laertes admits that the king had planned to kill
Hamlet. Upon hearing this, Hamlet kills Claudius before death finally takes him too.
In Hamlet’s case, he devotes his own life to destroying Claudius. He accidentally
kills Polonius in the process. Hamlet lives quite recklessly and doesn’t pay close
attention to his surroundings. For his crimes of murder, Hamlet pays the ultimate price as
God takes his life from him. Hamlet lived a life of murderous treachery. He lived to kill
his uncle. And because of the way that he has chosen to live, he dies.
Claudius murders his own brother the plans to murder Hamlet much the same
way. He lives a live of deception and trickery. In the end, Claudius is turned in my his
own follower, Laertes. Claudius suffers the worst death of the three people because he
must watch his wife die at his own hand, and he can do nothing to stop her death. He
lives his whole life leading people on and controlling them and is deceived himself in the
Laertes decides to get revenge for his fathers death. He teams up with Claudius,
so they can take Hamlet down together. So after stealing the life from Hamlet, he realizes
that he shouldn’t have listened to Claudius. Unfortunately it is too late for him because
Hamlet stabs him and kills him.
All three of these deaths are directly related to one another. They are all
interwoven incidents that cause one another to occur. All three people chose to live a
violent lifestyle and all died because of this choice. In life, out destinies are determined
by the way we choose to live. If you live a dangerous life, you may die soon. All of our
lives are interwoven in to the fabric of life. One bad thread messes up everything.

Category: Shakespeare