Hamlet vs. Laertes in the Play
Laertes and Hamlet both display impulsive reactions when
angered. Once Laertes discovers his father has been murdered Laertes
immediately assumes the slayer is Claudius. As a result of Laertes's
speculation he instinctively moves to avenge Polonius's death. "To
hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace,
to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation: to this point I stand, that
both worlds I give to negligence, let come what comes; only I'll be
revenged most thoroughly for my father." Act 4 Scene 5 lines 128-134
provide insight into Laertes's mind displaying his desire for revenge
at any cost. In contrast to Laertes speculation of his father's
killer, Hamlet presumes the individual spying on his conversation with
Gertrude is Claudius("Nay, I know not: is it the King?" Act 3, Scene 4
line 28). Consequently, Hamlet consumed with rage automatically
thrusts out attempting to kill Claudius, but instead strikes Polonius.
Hamlet's and Laertes's imprudent actions are incited by fury and
frustration. Sudden anger prompts both Hamlet and Laertes to act
spontaneously, giving little thought to the consequences of their
Hamlet and Laertes share a different but deep love and concern
for Ophelia. Before his departure for France Laertes provides
lengthy advice to Ophelia pertaining to her relationship with Hamlet.
Laertes voices his concern of Hamlet's true intentions towards Ophelia
and advices her to be wary of Hamlet's love. Laertes impresses upon
Ophelia, Hamlet is a prince who most likely will have an arranged
marriage. Hamlet's strong love for Ophelia withers after she rejects
his affinity. Hamlet's extensive love for Ophelia resulted in grave
suffering for Hamlet once his affection was rejected. Hamlet's
appearance decays due to the rejection of his love for Ophelia("Pale
as his shirt, his knees knocking each other" Act 2, Scene 1, line 82).
The loss of Ophelia's love for Hamlet instigates Polonius into
believing it has caused Hamlet to revert to antic disposition. Once
Laertes learns of the death of his sister he is afflicted with
sadness. In the same way, Hamlet is shocked and enraged over Ophelia's
demise. Both Hamlet and Laertes are so profoundly distressed at the
death of Ophelia they jump into her grave and fight each other.
Although Hamlet and Laertes despised one another, they both loved
Ophelia. Hamlet was infatuated with Ophelia which was obvious during
his constant anguish over her(in her rejection of Hamlet, and in her
death Hamlet suffered greatly). Laertes shared a strong brotherly love
for Ophelia which was evident in his advice to her. Laertes further
displayed his love for Ophelia during her funeral were he fought with
Hamlet and Laertes are similar in the way they associate with
their families. Laertes highly respects and loves his father Polonius.
Similarly, Hamlet holds a great respect for his dead father(Hamlet
compares his father to a sun god "Hyperion"). After the death of their
fathers, Hamlet and Laertes strive to seek revenge on the assassins.
Hamlet and Laertes exhibit domineering attitudes towards females.
Laertes gives his sister Ophelia guidance on her relationship with
Hamlet. In the same way, Hamlet is able to persuade Gertrude he is not
mad and manipulate her to follow his instructions. Hamlet directs his
mother to convince Claudius of Hamlet's madness. Hamlet is able to
make his mother reflect upon her part in the death of his father and
feel guilt("Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul, and there I see
such black and grained spots as will not leave their tinct." Act 3,
Scene 4 lines 90-93). Furthermore, Hamlet instructs his mother not to
sleep with Claudius. The fathers of Laertes and Hamlet both attempted
to use spies to gain information on their sons(although not his real
father Claudius was his uncle as well as step-father). Claudius
employed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to gather information on Hamlet.
In comparison, Polonius dispatches Reynaldo to check up on Laertes.
Hamlet and Laertes share similar aspects within their families.
Hamlet and Laertes demonstrate rash behaviour when infuriated.
Hamlet becomes outraged at the notion of Claudius spying on him which
results in Hamlet mistakenly killing Polonius. Laertes becomes
drastically angered at the death of his father and boldly seeks
vengeance against Claudius. Momentary rage overcomes Laertes and
Hamlet which prompts them to act spontaneously. Hamlet and Laertes
both have a strong love for Ophelia. Hamlet's deep love for Ophelia is
evident in his reaction to her rejection of him. In the same way,
Laertes care and affection are revealed by his advice to his sister.
The families of Laertes and Hamlet contain similar attributes. Hamlet
and Laertes hold a high admiration for their fathers and are willing
to even kill the king to enact revenge. Both characters exercise a
dominating attitude towards females. In conclusion, although
adversaries, Hamlet and Laertes share several characteristics which
make them similar.
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