Comparing Laertes and Hamlet
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.
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.
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