Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet and Laertes both take upon themselves the responsibility of exacting justice on behalf of their dead fathers. In their quest for justice (or is it revenge?), both must make difficult decisions. As they try to make those decisions, they appeal to different sources of authority, looking for direction, answers, guidance, and a course of action. Along the way, they must decide whether their integrity and morality are worth sacrificing in the name of what they believe to be justice. And they learn, and so should we, that developing good judgment in choosing which source of authority to trust is essential to finding true justice. In a world where information is literally at our fingertips, this judgment has never been more important.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Brandie Siegfried

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Judgment, Authority, and the Morality of Justice in Hamlet

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet and Laertes both take upon themselves the responsibility of exacting justice on behalf of their dead fathers. In their quest for justice (or is it revenge?), both must make difficult decisions. As they try to make those decisions, they appeal to different sources of authority, looking for direction, answers, guidance, and a course of action. Along the way, they must decide whether their integrity and morality are worth sacrificing in the name of what they believe to be justice. And they learn, and so should we, that developing good judgment in choosing which source of authority to trust is essential to finding true justice. In a world where information is literally at our fingertips, this judgment has never been more important.