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'Consider Laertes's contribution to the theme of revenge.' Hamlet

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Introduction

'Consider Laertes's contribution to the theme of revenge.' -----Hamlet Of the various parallels between Hamlet and Laertes is one of the most telling. From the beginning of the play we see the two in comparable situations, each young men of the court, each seeking university, each spied on by Polonius, each (it would appear) loving Ophelia, in different ways. Therefore, when Laertes finds himself in Hamlet's position of having a father murdered, the audience watches with interest to see how he will react, and how this will compare with Hamlet's behaviour in the same situation. In fact, although Hamlet points out that: 'by the image of my cause I can see The portraiture of his' Laertes reaction to murder of his father is very different from hamlet's, and indeed he is everything which Hamlet rebukes himself for failing to b. He forms the very epitome of a traditional avenger, and almost everything he does forms a contrast with what Hamlet does not do. Immediately as he returns to the court 'in a riotous head', having recruited 'a rabble', to aid him in his revenge. ...read more.

Middle

Laertes falls into the same category as Fortinbras, who with his 'unimproved mettle hot and full' seeks revenge on Denmark for winning and taking control of what had been his father's lands, and Pyrrhus, who brutally kills an old and defenceless man in the name of revenge. All these characters' unhesitating and decisive action, and what seems to be their lack of fear at the consequences, throw Hamlet's indecisiveness very much into relief, for whilst he can only 'unpack (his) heart with words', they can 'sweep...to revenge' as he longs to. However, it is \Claudius, not Laertes, who actually states that 'Revenge should have no bounds', which is not only ironic, since it is Hamlet's hesitation alone which has saved him so far, but - I feel - also has sinister undertones, since one would hardly have put such words into the mouth of the clearest villain of the play without implying that this sentiment is also, somehow, villainous. Of course, as Claudius is here manipulating Laertes' strong desire for revenge, it would be unwise to attach too much importance to this point, but it is nevertheless interesting to examine our attitude to Laertes' attitude towards revenge as opposed to Hamlet's. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this rage, this refusal to reason calmly and to reflect on what has happened, allows the slippery Claudius to manipulate Laertes for his own ends, leading to the treachery which destroys Claudius and Laertes themselves, and Gertrude, as well Hamlet. Ultimately, there is a certain nobility t be found in the exchange of forgiveness between hamlet and Laertes (the final link the latter's assurance that: 'Mine and my father's death come not upon thee, Nor thine on me!' Which is greater than Laertes' revengeful triumph over Hamlet. This is not to say that Shakespeare's presentation of Laertes serves entirely as an indictment of the process of revenge. Both hamlet and Laertes speak of the 'honour' of revenge, and finally does kill Claudius, that he is 'justly served.' However, I can feel that considering Laertes' contribution to the theme of revenge is only useful when seen alongside hamlet's reaction to the same theme, and perhaps this portrayal of a traditional avenger who is only useful when seen alongside hamlet's reaction to the same theme, and perhaps this portrayal of a traditional avenger who is rash, manipulative and finally self-destructive, allows us to see hamlet in a more favourable light when he is unable to assume the same role as traditional avenger. ...read more.

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