The Guilty Do Not Always Get Punished When working properly the justice system can be a thing of beauty; criminals get put behind bars and the innocent are set free. Unfortunately there are many flaws.
When the justice system fails, it can be a detrimental blow to those families who do not have justice served. During the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare a man appears to receive only benefit and little consequence for his menacing actions. In Hamlet the tragedy is caused by a singular force of justice expressed in Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius. Hamlet unlike the other two men is on both the receiving and giving end of justice. Hamlet’s father comes to him in the form of a ghost who is trapped between heaven and hell, telling Hamlet that his death was not an accident but was in fact murder.
Hamlet desperately wants Claudius to pay for his horrible sins in this life and the next. Hamlets undying love for his father pushes him to seek justice in order to free his father of his haunting state. Hamlet finds himself having the golden opportunity to avenge his dead father but refuses because Claudius is praying to the gods. Hamlet want Claudius to have no chance of ascending to heaven. Instead Hamlets wait to kill Claudius until he catches the king in the most unholy of situations. This is to get even, by killing him and maximizing Claudius’s chances of spending the rest of eternity burning in hell.”A villain kills my father, and for that,I, his sole son, do this same villain sendTo heaven. /Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge”(3.
3.76-79)Hamlet is saying if he merely kills Claudius and his soul ascends to heaven, he is really just doing his father’s killer a favour. Hamlet believes that is too good for him and wants to watch him die in this world and suffer in the next for his crimes. Justice can be seen in another form through laertes. Laertes, like most of our society today, believes in earthly justice.
He does not care about what will happen to his soul as long as he gets revenge for the crimes committed against his once living family. Laertes thirst for Justice helped contribute to the downfall of the royals in Denmark. When his family is taken from him by the hands of one man, it is not completely unreasonable to want him to pay for what he has done. When laertes heard that his father had been murdered, he barged in and demanded to see the king immediately. In the midst of his fury laertes has thoughts of overthrowing the king, until he hears Hamlet is responsible for his father’s death and sisters madness.Laertes says “to cut his throat i’th’ church” (4.7.127.
) this means he is so determined to avenge his family that he no longer fears God’s judgement. He is willing to do whatever it takes, even if that means sacrificing his passage into heaven in order to see the man who wronged his family die. Claudius shows the force of justice throughout his life after his death. Claudius has gotten away with murder and is constantly basking in the glory of the title he stole. Claudius seems to be able to live with himself until Hamlet purposely piks a production the mimics the situation of Claudius’s rise to power. Claudius knows what he has done was out of his lust for power and is now consumed with guilt. For every righteous act or sin committed God is watching. After death claudius will be on the door steps of heaven and only god can decide his fate from there.
Even though Claudius has had little to no punishment for the sins he committed on earth he knows God will give him the justice he so horribly deserves. When praying Claudius says “tis seen the picked prize itself / Buys out the law. But ’tis not so above”(3.3.59-60). He realizes there is no greater punishment than being damned to hell for the sins he’s committed.
In a final effort to save his afterlife Claudius attempts to redeem his soul from judgement but soon realizes how pointless it is. In Hamlet the tragedy is caused by a singular force of justice expressed in Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius. Hamlet shows both the giving and receiving side f justice by seeking revenge on Claudius but later getting killed by Laertes. Laertes shows justice in fighting his family’s killer to put hamlet to justice for what he’s done. Claudius shows the receiving side of justice when God will have to choose how his justice will be served in the afterlife.
The balance of justice is a seesaw in life where both sides can be fatal.