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Compare and contrast the approaches of Hamlet and Laertes to revenge

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Introduction

"... by the image of my cause, I see / The portraiture of his." Compare and contrast the approaches of Hamlet and Laertes to revenge. Hamlet is the son of the late king Hamlet and is grieving over his father's unexpected death. Both Laertes and Hamlet are avengers, avenging their fathers' murders. He also has to contend with the fact that his mother, the queen, Gertrude, re-marries rather quickly to the new king Claudius (the late king Hamlet's brother). Hamlet also wishes to return to university perhaps to deal with the incidents of late and to return to some sort of normality. This is somewhat ignored by the Claudius's need to keep a fixed eye of him. As the play continues you learn that the late king Hamlet was actually murdered and it is Hamlet's duty to seek revenge and resolve the situation. This he deals with badly, by continuously battling with his conscience as to whether or not he can do it and if it is acceptable to seek such revenge. Laertes is the Lord Chamberlain's son and also the brother of Hamlet's true love. ...read more.

Middle

However as many similarities as there are, the contrasts are more noticeable and at first glance are clearer and easier to perceive. Some would think Hamlet to be the cowardly avenger, this I feel portrays Laertes to be a more courageous character. Hamlet deliberately attempts to delay the revenge he seeks for his father's death. He accuses himself of "bestial oblivion" and "over-speculation". He seems to be less focused than Laertes and on occasion battles with his conscience. "To be, or not to be - that is the question" (Hamlet Act iii Scene I). Laertes on the other hand is very direct, consistent, and almost the single-minded avenger. He doesn't seem to struggle with his conscience and is more than willing to accept the consequences of his actions. Laertes even states in act iv scene v "I dare damnation. To this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence". He really does not care what will happen to him providing his revenge for his father's death is sort. This play was set in Elizabethan times, an era where attitudes were mixed and ambivalent towards revenge. ...read more.

Conclusion

I would like to think that Laertes poor judge of character is purely because he is blinded by anger and grief from which he is experiencing from his father's death and sister's illness and of course her death too. Laertes other reason for such poor judgement is because he is so determined on seeking revenge and due to his lack of care for consequence, his focus is so strong that anything other than revenge is just irrelevant. It is also important to remember that Laertes has no reason not to trust Claudius, after all he didn't kill Polonius. No matter what, Laertes was going to seek revenge with or without Claudius's help, why else did he buy the poison? There is many a comparative conclusion to be made. However I think that there are as many similarities between the two characters as there are differences. One thing that we should remember throughout the play is that both Hamlet and Laertes have to contend with immense amount of emotions such as grief, anger, and betrayal. Each emotion alone is hard enough but when evil is spread like a plague as it clearly is in this play the repercussions are uncontrollably hard to bear. New Swan Shakespeare Advanced Series "Hamlet" Clare Oates 1 Dec 01 ...read more.

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