Hamlet and Laertes

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Prince Hamlet struggles with the inexplicable death of his father, the betrayal by his uncle, and the inadvertent murder of a seemingly innocent man. Laertes likewise suffers through the accidental death of his father, the betrayal by a man close to the family, and the snide and sneaky murder of that same man. The difference between Hamlet and Laertes, however, clearly lies in how these men handle the difficult situations they face. Hamlet, the intelligent thinker, calmly overanalyzes each detail and consequently hesitates in ultimately avenging his father's death. Laertes, the rash actor, starkly contrasts the dilatory Hamlet, as he is immediately enraged and seeks instantaneous vengeance. Laertes resolves that nothing will distract him from acting out his revenge, but he is easily influenced and manipulated into serving Claudius' ends. Laertes does little thinking of his own; however, his constant action gives him the upper hand in his quest for revenge. In addition, the two men differ in their feelings toward a possible afterlife; Hamlet, the moral prince, seeks to ensure his place in heaven, while Laertes, too blinded by rage, does not show any regard for his soul after death. Laertes' lack of sincerity toward the end of the play contrasts the genuine, conscientious actions and thoughts of Hamlet. The disparities between Laertes and Hamlet aid in the development of Hamlet, as Laertes the foil reveals Hamlet's weaknesses and emphasizes his virtues through contrast.

Acting without thoroughly comprehending the situation inevitably leads to trouble, turmoil, and tribulation; however, reflection without action is just as detrimental. This great dichotomy poses a perplexing predicament for both Hamlet and Laertes. Hamlet's immersion in thought stimulates an overanalyzation of many issues, therefore impairing his judgment. Hamlet's situation is even more distressing, as he realizes he is reluctant to act. Hamlet recognizes that he, "… the son of a...
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