Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes and Hamlet both lose a father by unnatural and sudden death. The unnatural death of the father is brought on by someone close to the son. When Laertes discovers that his father is dead, he is outraged. When Hamlet learns from the ghost of his father’s murder, he weeps, and promises action, though he delivers none. Both Laertes and Hamlet grieve deeply for their fathers, but Laertes acts upon this grief while Hamlet carefully plots his revenge and waits for the perfect moment to avenge King Hamlet. Laertes’ unplanned action causes his death by his own sword, while Hamlet’s apparent inaction finally gets him the revenge that Laertes has attempted. Though Laertes’ grief at his father’s death causes his action, Hamlet’s grief for his father has more power. Laertes’ and Hamlet’s immediate reactions when they learn of their father’s unnatural deaths are widely different. When Laertes learns that his father is gone, he is outraged and “o’erbears [Claudius’s] officers. The rabble call him lord…/ They cry ‘Choose we! Laertes shall be king!’” (4.5.105, 109). Laertes takes action immediately by bursting into the castle, and demanding “O thou vile king, / give me my father!” (4.5.119-20). Laertes’ anger overrules his rational thought, and he acts with emotions alone, whereas Hamlet promises to act, but delivers only angry, grief-stricken soliloquies on how horrible it is that he does not act upon his feelings. Hamlet is amazed at his own inaction, that he, “the son of a dear father murdered, / Prompted to [his] revenge by heaven and hell, / Must like a whore unpack [his] heart with words / And fall a-cursing” (2.2.584-587). He berates himself for this ostensible dodging of responsibility, saying, “Am I a coward? / Who calls me villain? Breaks my pate across? / Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? / Tweaks my by the nose?… Who does me this?” (2.2.571-574, 575). Hamlet’s inability to gain revenge astounds him, and unlike Laertes, he seems to do nothing about his delay. Laertes is consumed by his anger and acts accordingly, but Hamlet takes his grief to heart and plots how he will eventually avenge his father’s murder. When Laertes learns that Hamlet has killed his father, he immediately goes along with the king’s plan to kill Hamlet. Laertes agrees to “be ruled” by the King so that Hamlet “shall not ... ... middle of paper ... ...r Hamlet. Laertes and Hamlet both succeeded in killing their fathers’ murderers, but the price was the death of Ophelia, Polonius, Gertrude, and Laertes himself. Although Hamlet and Laertes are responsible for their actions in dealing with their grief, Claudius is the ultimate cause of the death throughout the castle. Because Claudius killed Hamlet’s father, he is responsible for all of Hamlet’s actions that are brought on by grief or a need for revenge. When Hamlet kills Polonius, it is because Claudius sent Polonius to spy on Gertrude and Hamlet. This in turn triggers Laertes’ grief, and all of Laertes' actions after that that are connected to the death of his father. All of the deaths in Hamlet can be accredited to Claudius. When Claudius kills King Hamlet, young Hamlet is grief-stricken. Hamlet kills Polonius in a fit of rage, causing Ophelia to go mad and eventually kill herself, and Laertes to become enraged. Laertes then kills Hamlet and inadvertently kills Gertrude and himself. Hamlet is horrified at the deaths surrounding him and kills Claudius. All of these deaths stemmed from Hamlet’s original grief that Claudius had murdered King Hamlet.

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