By Vengeance United: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and The Last of Us Part II on Revenge
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The theme of revenge is a central aspect of the story of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1623). Considering both how known the play from the earlier 17th century is, as well as how intricately tied to the theme of revenge it is, any new story that is written and produced with a similar or identical theme begs a comparison with Hamlet (1623). One such story is the videogame The Last of Us Part II (2020) in which the theme of revenge is the driving force behind the motivations of the characters, as well as the primary narrative force that drives the plotline of the videogame forward. In light of this similarity, this thesis aims to study the narrative elements of both Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1623) as well as The Last of Us Part II (2020) regarding their common theme of revenge, to try to discern the literary and narrative elements that support the idea that the latter is a modern retelling or adaptation of the former, regarding their common theme. As the protagonists of both stories embark on a quest of revenge after the loss of a father or a father-figure, their stories become united and intertwined by vengeance in a way that transcends both time and medium. The results of the literary study that this thesis conducted reveal that both Hamlet (1623) as well as The Last of Us Part II (2020) are primarily joined by inspiring the appreciation in audiences both modern and historic that pursuing vengeance until the end will lead to one’s own downfall and death, while claiming many innocent lives along the way, as well as harming those closest to oneself, while forgiveness is the ultimate path to healing and achieving justice. Each of the two stories is an embodiment of one of those two sides of the same coin, which is the thread that binds The Last of Us Part II (2020) to Hamlet (1623).