• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

Extracts from this document...


To Compare and Contrast the Characters Hamlet and Laertes The play by Shakespeare on Hamlet has a quite interesting start. It opens in scene two (I say this, as this is where we meet the characters Hamlet and Laertes) with a wedding, which ordinarily is a joyous occasion for many, however we find that there are two characters, which cannot wear a smile. "Your leave and favour to return to France, from whence though willingly I came to Denmark to show my duty in your coronation, yet now I must confess, that duty done..." Laertes is longing to return to France rather than stay in Denmark. We then find Hamlet who also is melancholy, but for a reason we yet not know, "(king) How now is it that the clouds still hang on you?" --apart from Hamlet still in mourning for his father and refusing to accept the stale words of consolation offered to him by his mother and uncle. No one really knows why Hamlet is acting the way he is until his first soliloquy, where he blurts out all his feelings: "O that this too to o sullied flesh would melt. Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, or that the everlasting had not fix'd his cannon 'gainst self-slaughter...O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourn'd longer -married my uncle, my father's brother -but no more like my father than I to Hercules. Within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, she married -O most wicked speed!" We find in this soliloquy that Hamlet feels like committing suicide but battles it out with himself, finding excuses why not to do things for example he will not commit suicide because God forbids it. He will not tell his mother that he is not happy with her remarriage and think that it will not come to good as he loves her and wants her to be happy. ...read more.


It is ultimately this indecision and hesitation of Hamlet's that leads to the tragedy of the play." Also Hamlet first has to make sure that the ghost was right and so puts on a play of his father's supposed death. Hamlet then gets his dear friend, Horatio to watch Claudius' reaction in the play and then tell Hamlet if he thinks he's guilty or not. Not only does Hamlet do this but he also pretends to be made as a decoy to throw the other characters of track. Once Hamlet knows for definite that Claudius was his father's murderer he wants to get him back, however every appropriate moment he gets, he finds an excuse not to "and now I'll do't...and so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd: a villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven." Laertes on the other hand doesn't give much thought to the matter; he just acts: Act 5 scene 2 between line306-307: Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers. Laertes strikes when he has the chance, he never hesitates or makes excuses, he is not a paradox like Hamlet in the sense that he does not say he is definitely going to kill Claudius, then think about it and change his mind; he makes up his mind and acts, most of the time he don't even have to think. Hamlet seems to either say something and not do it or just do something and not think about it, whereas Laertes does exactly what he says e.g. he wanted to go back to Paris and he does that. An example of Hamlet is where he says he wants to stop his mother's marriage but then he says in his soliloquy that he hasn't got the power to say something in order to stop it. Another difference between the two characters is that Laertes cares about the family name (which I touched on earlier) ...read more.


Hamlet however, philosophizes about the afterlife, and whether ...in that sleep of death what dreams may come. Hamlet and Laertes represent the two extremities of the act of revenge: perpetual contemplation over circumstances leading to procrastination; and acting on impulsion and without reasoning. Revenge was the driving force behind these characters' actions and this led to their eventual downfall. After comparing and contrasting the two characters, Hamlet and Laertes, I have found that even thought Hamlet has his faults he has more morels and a better person then Laertes, although I prefer the way that Laertes treats his family. Laertes was a good character, however it was his hatred and false accusations, which pulled the cover over his eyes and led him into stupidity and sin, which consequently led to the fatal and tragic death of himself and Hamlet. Had Laertes acted upon the promptings of his conscience, he would have avoided his own death and, Hamlets. Laertes' false sense of honour and pride override his better instincts to the fatal harm of both Laertes and Hamlet. Finally after recognizing his dishonour and admitting that he is "justly killed with mine own treachery, " Laertes finally admits his fault to Hamlet, informing him of Claudius' plans and offers him an exchange of forgiveness. I have also notice that Hamlet and Laertes have swapped over roles as Hamlet Started off depressed and melancholy: "To be or not to be that is the question..." whereas Laertes appeared stable and towards the end of the play Hamlet becomes more stable and acts more grown up. Laertes however seems to have lost his grip and acts like Hamlet in his first soliloquy and feels sorry for himself. Ultimately I have come to a conclusion that both characters are unique like everyone else with a few things alike. Their moods are completely the opposite for example Hamlet will sulk and wallow in self-pity if he does not like or agree with something whereas Laertes would sort is as soon as he could. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why does Hamlet still matter?

    5 star(s)

    The characterisation of Ophelia as the quintessential obedient daughter, emphasised through her name meaning ?serving woman? and her father?s order to dent Hamlet the right to see her, establishes her as one of two women of the play as vulnerable to the abuse of man.

  2. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    The men talk about Old Hamlet. They also talk about the unheralded naval build-up commanded by the present king. This is in response to an expected military invasion by the Norwegian prince Fortinbras, who wishes to regain the territories lost by his father's death.

  1. An analysis of the characters in Hamlet

    He pays for his crimes with his own life at the end when Hamlet stabs him and forces him to drink the leftover of the wine. One can learn a moral lesson from Claudius's life that one who commits such crimes has to pay for it.

  2. Comparing the revengers Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet.

    any of the revenge he is planning on Hamlet is for his own purpose. 'That we would do, We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes' (Act IV, Scene VII Lines 118-119). Claudius tells Laertes that they should do at once what they want to do - kill

  1. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    His Mother has recently remarried to his uncle who he knows murdered his Father. He feels great resentment towards the new King, Claudius. While talking to Horatio, who acts as a sounding board for Hamlet, in act one scene two he asks of his 'affair in Elsinore?'

  2. Compare and contrast the approaches of Hamlet and Laertes to revenge

    Laertes also seeks forgiveness from Hamlet for his part of the evil that has spread. This proves that he is deeply an honest man and not one of evil. Hamlet, also of the same nature, exchanges forgiveness. This is a major indication, on Hamlet's behalf that he is to an honourable man.

  1. How does Shakespeare use language to describe Claudius as a villain?

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can tell him nothing, but the scene he witnesses between Hamlet and Ophelia, in which Hamlet seemed to threaten his life, convinces him that he must act immediately to protect himself, and he decides to do this by sending Hamlet off to England for a time.

  2. How does Shakespeare use Laertes as a parallel to Hamlet in the play?

    Laertes shares a strong sibling love with Ophelia evident in his advice to her at the beginning of the play. Both men further display their love for Ophelia during her funeral when they jump into the grave. Hamlet is a scholar at Wittenberg, Laertes at a similar university in France, and each admired for their swordsmanship.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work