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

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras are reflections of each other. Discuss. "The world is a looking glass." This synecdochic statement of 19th century English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray, encapsulates the idea of reflections of ourselves being evident all around us in different aspects of the world. Whether in the words, actions or attitudes of others, we tend to see something of ourselves. Shakespeare employs this theme of reflection in his works such as in Antony and Cleopatra where Caesar recognises that Antony is, as stated by Maecenas, "a spacious mirror set before him" and this reflects to Caesar both the dimensions of he and his fellow triumvir, leading Caesar to the realisation that the world is not big enough for the two of them as can be interpreted from "...we could not stall together/ In the whole world." Reflection is thus a recurrent motif in Shakespeare's works, and is a key issue which arises in the course of the play Hamlet. Hamlet is a play which involves a lot of reflection and mirroring in various ways. One of the most notable is the 'play within a play' or 'The Mousetrap' which mirrors the relationship King Hamlet had with Gertrude as well as the manner in which King Hamlet was murdered. ...read more.

Middle

Nevertheless, Hamlet does recognise an aspect of himself reflected in that of Laertes. Thus, Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras all seek to avenge the death of their fathers, but they each work towards this end with varying methods. Whilst Hamlet is the vacillating, hesitant one searching for proof and taking his time, and Fortinbras is the calculating but quick-acting, resolute one, Laertes is the more aggressive typical revenge hero. Hamlet spends so much time dithering and searching for proof that the ghost has to reappear to "whet thy almost blunted purpose." The use of words associated with knives or daggers, that is 'whet' and 'blunted', remind us that Hamlet's purpose is to kill to avenge his father, rather than his inactivity. Hamlet says of Fortinbras, on the other hand, that his "spirit is with divine ambition puffed" and thus he is able to lead the Norwegian army to fight over a 'little patch of ground'. Laertes' brutal, aggressive approach can be seen not only in the way he breaks into the Danish palace to confront Claudius over his father's death but also how he says of Hamlet that he would "cut his throat I'th'church" The aggressiveness in this statement is emphasised by the use of alliteration in 'throat' and 'th'church'. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also interesting to note that Hamlet sees a reflection of his cause in that of Fortinbras and Laertes towards the end of the play in a form of anagnorisis. However, at the start of the play, he seems deeply sceptical about the ability of anything to reflect him truly. According to Philippa Kelly, he mocks verbal and physical display as having the incapacity to 'denote me truly'. In his mocking summation of Laertes even in the final act of the play, he appears sure that nothing and no one could reflect Laertes "he his semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more." His argument is that words fall short of describing Laertes' greatness, but earlier on we know that he has declared that he sees a reflection of his cause in that of Laertes. Thus, although Hamlet, ab initio, comes across as one who feels that nothing can reflect him, nothing can denote him truly or body him forth as would the dissection of his organs, he comes to realise that reflections are indeed everywhere as can be interpreted from William Thackeray's statement, "The world is a looking glass." In the actions, words, causes and attitudes of others, particularly Laertes and Fortinbras, he sees a reflection of his own self and is, from these reflections, made aware of his shortcomings and spurred to action in eventually avenging the death of his father. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This is an uneven essay. The writer shows a good knowledge of the text and an effective attention to textual detail, with well used terminology. With better planning and structuring, it would have achieved a more focused response. ***

Marked by teacher Karen Reader 08/03/2012

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. To What Extent Is Hamlet, The Tragic Hero Of The Play, Responsible For His ...

    For example, many have called into question the role played by fate, instead of the sole role of Hamlet's flaws. This argument resonates strongly as Hamlet is put into the events and circumstances by the actions of others and seems as though his fate as the tragic hero is sealed before he is even aware of it.

  2. To be or not to be Hamlet soliloquy analysis

    Shakespeare compares death to being asleep in which he could "perchance dream." This demonstrates how Hamlet is showing how being dead is in actual fact not that different from being asleep to comfort himself and to give him some encouragement to commit suicide.

  1. How does Shakespeare present aspects of love in Hamlet?

    The way in which Shakespeare gives detail about their marriage is effective because similarly to Hamlet and Ophelia's relationship, he keeps us guessing throughout the play and the truth is not revealed until the final act. Another minor relationship that shows elements of love is between Laertes and Polonius.

  2. Appearance vs. Reality in Hamlet.

    The separation between Hamlet and the madness that at times overtakes him proves that the madness is merely appearance. Hamlet's madness is also an illusion to conceal his true feelings of Ophelia. Hamlet harasses Ophelia, a woman he loves, with harsh words and actions.

  1. Hamlet is considered to be the greatest play ever written. The themes of the ...

    If to be honest is to be "one man picked out of ten thousand" (Act 2, Scene 2). His anger guides him to murder several people. After the players have performed Hamlets play and he finds out that it was Claudius.

  2. Hamlet's Tragic Flaw leading to his Demise

    Basically Hamlet is asking "Should I kill myself?" .Again he double thinks this question and is not willing to kill himself because he of "the dread of something after death" (III, i,78). Hamlet is unsure of what the afterlife brings and would rather "bear those ills," "Than to fly to others that we know not of" (III,i, 81-82).

  1. Hamlet - Hero or villain?

    On various occasions, Hamlet uses his wit to relieve tension or to disguise his own feelings. The first time it become apparent Hamlet is putting up a pretence and hiding his feelings is through a monologue stating his opinion on Gertrude and Claudius' relationship, in which he says 'But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue'.

  2. To what extent is hamlet a tragic hero in the classical sense

    There are ways of suggesting he isn't mad such as the way he works out that guildenstren and rosencrantz were sent for, "were you sent for?" Hamlet speaks in prose, because of his madness, and uses his madness to insult polonius, "excellent well, you are a fishmonger."

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