Hamlet’s Dashing Laertes

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Hamlet’s Dashing Laertes The character of Laertes in Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet is an interesting one. Though seemingly relatively low-ranking as the son of the lord chamberlain, he nevertheless commands such respect from the populace that they rally to make him king at one point. Let us, first of all, see how he fits into the royal lineup at Elsinore, examining them on the basis of most apparent personal qualities. Helen Gardner, by way of overview, compares Laertes to Hamlet and King Claudius in “Hamlet and the Tragedy of Revenge”: Hamlet’s agony of mind and indecision are precisely the things which differentiate him from the smooth, swift plotter Claudius, and from the coarse, unthinking Laertes, ready to “dare damnation” and cut his enemy’s throat in a churchyard (222). Laertes makes his appearance in the drama after Marcellus, Barnardo and Horatio have already seen the Ghost and have trifled with it in an effort to prompt it to communicate with them. Laertes is in attendance at a social gathering of the court at Elsinore. Laertes, like Fortinbras a rival of Hamlet (Kermode 1138), appears with his father, Polonius, who is later shown to manipulate both him and his sister (Boklund 122). Laertes respectfully approaches the king, who asks, “And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? / You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?” Laertes responds in a manner befitting the son of the lord chamberlain: My dread lord, Your leave and favour to return to France; From whence though willingly I came to Denmark, To show my duty in your coronation [. . .] . (1.2) After Claudius wishes Laertes a farewell for his trip back to France, the young man... ... middle of paper ... .... San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from Hamlet: Film, Television and Audio Performance. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. P., 1988. Kermode, Frank. “Hamlet.” The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974. Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: Univ. of Delaware P., 1992. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos. Ward & Trent, et al. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907–21; New York: Bartleby.com, 2000 http://www.bartleby.com/215/0816.html

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