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

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

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare use Laertes as a parallel to Hamlet in the play? Hamlet is a story of revenge and of the way the characters in the play respond to their grief and the demands of loyalty from the deceased. Laertes is presented as a parallel character to Hamlet and provides a pivotal point on which to compare the actions and emotions of Hamlet throughout the play. Hamlet and Laertes are two young men faced with avenging their fathers' deaths. However, the way that they both react to their grief and how they rise to the call of vengeance is the main contrast between them. While Hamlet is a man of thought; Laertes is a man of action. Hamlet is introduced as a mourning son, greatly troubled by the recent marriage of his mother to his uncle. The audience immediately establishes a connection with this character as he seems very unsure and vulnerable when confronting the ghost. Laertes, on the other hand is presented to the audience as a somewhat hollow and shallow character who gives his sister unfounded advice as to Hamlet's feelings towards her. ...read more.


When brought to the call of avenging their fathers' deaths, Laertes is fast to act, he wants revenge and he wants it immediately. His actions are rash, being based in anger, and Laertes is easily drawn into Denmark's corruption by Claudius. Claudius manipulates Laertes into becoming an ally to kill Hamlet. Laertes is confident of his abilities to regain honour through vengeance: "my revenge will come" the absolute certainty of the language tells the audience what kind of man he is. Contrasting to Laertes' quick response, Hamlet procrastinates. Although Hamlet wants to regain honour by avenging his father's death, he is dubious of his ability to complete what he promised to the ghost. For two months he procrastinates, and rebukes himself for doing so. Hamlet agonizes over what he is to do and how he is to avenge the murder of his father whilst Laertes acts on impulse and on a tryst with Claudius arising from the emotions of anger and revenge. Hamlet mulls over how he is going to act and defers action until his own procrastination disgusts him into acting. This does not mean, however that Hamlet is unable to act on impulse. ...read more.


Indeed, it seems his thoughts that are revealed throughout the play are those of a scholar rather than soldier. The last scene of the play demonstrates more than any the true character of Fortinbras. He arrives at Elsinore, analyses the scene, then acts upon it. His action to avenge his father's death is carefully analysed and his plan executed, unlike Hamlet's continual pensiveness and illogical steps towards vengeance. Hamlet and Laertes represent inaction and action. Fortinbras, as a scholar and a soldier is the midpoint of these two extremes, his ability to reason and then act upon the reason has resulted in his assumption to the lands he sought to attain, and the throne he set out to avenge. Laertes' repentance, regret and forgiving nature at the end of the play show the audience another side of the hasty, headstrong character allowing him to be contrasted with Claudius who never repents or admits his sins, "words without thoughts, never to heaven go." Hamlet and Laertes not only succeed at avenging their fathers' murders but also exchange forgiveness before they die, leaving the audience with the final conclusion that Laertes is but another victim of the "incestuous, murderous, damned Dane", Claudius, and whose death is a tragedy in itself. - 1 - AS English Jo Maund 12TOP January 2002 ...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

    Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras are all reflections on each other. Discuss.

    3 star(s)

    However, it is open to interpretation whether or not Hamlet was referring to revenge as his 'cause', for as Philip Edward argues, Harold Jenkins points out that Hamlet simply does not recognise himself as a proposed victim of Laertes' revenge, and thus Hamlet simply meant, when he made that statement,

  2. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    Hamlet, however, is the only person who knows his father has been murdered and so bringing me to my next point in the following paragraph has to make sure that Claudius did murder his father before he avenges him. Laertes, on the other hand knows that his father has been murdered and by who (for definite)

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    (Hamlet doesn't know for sure.) When Polonius's body falls out from behind the curtain, Hamlet remarks he thought it was the king (who he was just with, someplace else), and talks about how being a busybody is dangerous. He turns immediately back to his mother, who is baffled and evidently is just now realizing herself that Claudius is a murderer.

  2. Comparing the revengers Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet.

    than a piece of land, yet he has not carried out his revenge, and has in fact, it seems, been putting it off. 'How stand I, then, That have a father killed, a mother stained, Excitements of my reason and my blood, And let all sleep?'

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

    He then gives Laertes free reign, placing himself in apparent jeopardy: Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me: If by direct or by collateral hand The find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give, Our crown, our life,

  2. Explore how and why Shakespeare presents thought and actions in the first two acts ...

    Consequently, as a result of this clear dishonesty, act one scene 2 is important in that it hints at the corruption and weakness of Claudius through the incongruities in his speech and the fallaciousness of the setting around him. Although we do not know what Claudius's true thoughts and feelings

  1. How does Shakespeare present and use the characters of Laertes and Fortinbras to compare ...

    Laertes' actions prove a telling contrast to Hamlet, letting the audience determine whether Hamlet's non- active response is in fact shameful. Fortinbras is also contrasted to Hamlet, as he pursues his vengeance "strong in arm", but it is questionable as to how much honour was for his father.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    - of flesh and blood sympathists - acts as a support and a stimulation a tergo, while the front of the mind, the whole consciousness of the speaker, is filled, yea, absorbed, by the apparition. Add too, that the apparition itself has by its previous appearances been brought nearer to a thing of this world.

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