Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2018

“How Is It That the Clouds Still Hang on You?”: A Rhetoric Reading of Hamlet’s Revenge

Jianfeng Zhang

Shanghai International Studies University, China


It is commonly acknowledged that Hamlet kills Claudius to avenge his father’s death. Nevertheless, following Paul de Man’s interpretation strategy, the paper presents a rhetoric reading of the revenge theme in Hamlet, proposing that the real revengee is Gertrude rather than Claudius. The old Hamlet is posthumously informed that his death attributes to the queen’s perfidy. He accordingly demands Hamlet to kill the new king in order to terminate the incest between the new “couple”. Also at the ghost’s command, the prince revenges his natural mother by the means of verbal sarcasm so as to leave the latter, whom the old king hates most, to suffer the cruellest divine punishment instead of any secular trial .


Hamlet, revenge, queen, rhetoric reading