Contrasting Views on the Shakespearean play "Hamlet"

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Contrasting ViewsThroughout the Shakespearian play, Hamlet, Laertes and Prince Hamlet are compared and contrasted through similar situations that show how Laertes is a foil to Hamlet because of there different personality traits.

No two people are the same. In the play Hamlet, the most significant different between Laertes and Hamlet is there personality traits and how they act upon situations. Hamlet is a thinker and uses his intellect when it comes to situations such as the plan to seek revenge on Claudius. By thinking before he acts Hamlet causes a tragic error which leads to the death of many innocent people. By not killing Claudius when he had the chance too he caused the death of Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes and himself. “And so ‘a goes to heaven; 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 (Act 3, Scene 3: 74-78).”

He could have killed Claudius but instead he over thought the situation and did not to kill him because Hamlet believed that he would not have suffered the way that his father did. Laertes is quite different because rather than using his brain he acts upon a situation right away with passion and heart. He does not think things through which is how Claudius takes advantage of him in the end. The King is not threatened by Laertes because he doesn’t consider him a threat which is why he takes an advantage of Laertes and his need for revenge. Even though they both have character flaws the ideal character would use both there head and heart. One character flaw that they both have in common is how they react to Ophelia’s death. At the funeral they both jump into the grave and argue and fight over who has the most love for her. There actions show that they are more obsessed with the competition between themselves than respecting Ophelia’s grave and funeral. “I’d love Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her? (Act 3, Scene 1: 255-257).” This quote is said by Hamlet to Laertes. It is a rivalry between her brother and her lover for who has the most love for her. This has nothing to do with Ophelia because they had lost sight of the truth and made it into a competition between each other. What is ironic about the end of the play is that they fight each other in a duel and both die in the end which shows that they both have different weaknesses.

Even though Prince Hamlet and Laertes on the surface seem to be going through the same things in reality their personality is what makes them significantly different throughout the play. At the beginning of the play we are introduced to Prince Hamlet after the death of his father. His personality is dark because he is suffering through the pain of loosing his father and seeing his mother remarry his uncle within a short period of time. “O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d. His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. Seem to me all the uses of this world (Act 1, Scene 2: 129-134).” This quote was said by Hamlet through his first soliloquy of the play after he see’s Gertrude and Claudius together in Court. He expresses the pain and sadness that he is going through after the death of his father and is referring to thoughts of suicide by saying he want to melt and become water. Laertes loses his father because Hamlet thought he was killing Claudius instead. One thing that they both want to achieve is revenge but when it comes to the way they achieve revenge they act very differently because of there distinctively diverse personality. “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge (Act 1, Scene 5: 29-31).” This quote is said by Hamlet after the ghost of Hamlet Senior tells him that Claudius is the one that murdered him. The ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him to seek revenge for the murder of himself and for stealing the thrown of Denmark. Hamlet feels responsible to avenge his father’s murder and in order to get Claudius back for what he did so he creates a plan to set up a play to see if Claudius reacts to it. When Laertes finds out about the murder of his father he is very upset and wants to seek revenge as well but does it very differently. “And so have I a noble father lost, A sister driven into desp’rate terms, Whose worth, if praises may go back again, Stood challenger on mount of all age for her perfections. But my revenge will come (Act 4, Scene 7: 25-29).” This is a quote said by Laertes after finding out about the death of his father. He wants to seek revenge upon Hamlet because he got away with the murder of his father. Overall they both are connected through the death of their fathers but both act upon the situation wanting to seek revenge differently because of there personalities. Hamlet has a very dark and complex personality rather than Laertes who is very passionate.

“Something is rotten n the state of Denmark (Act 1, Scene 4: 90).” This line is said by Marcellus when he is debating whether to follow Hamlet and the ghost of Hamlets father. This line refers to the state of Denmark created by the crime Claudius has committed. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark and therefore has a higher status in society. On the other hand, Laertes is the son of a Courties. Laertes father, Polonius has to do anything and everything to please the King which puts him below Hamlet in society. When Hamlet Senior was the King of Denmark things were stable but ever since the death of him things have gone downhill. Gertrude has married Claudius and has left Hamlet extremely depressed and saddened by the current status of events. Hamlet feels alone, isolated and separated from everyone because of the death of his father and the marriage of his uncle and mother. He tries to escape everything asking permission to return to his university studies but his mother and uncle insist he stay and in turn allow Laertes to return to France. “They cry, ‘Choose we! Laertes shall be king.’ Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds, ‘Laertes shall be King, Laertes king (Act 4, Scene 5: 105-107).” This quote was said by the messenger after the death of Laertes father, Polonius. They want Laertes to be King because he is one of the people and because Hamlet killed Polonius. Everyone thinks that Hamlet is not being fairly punished for the crime he committed and are supporting Laertes. Even though Laertes is below Hamlet in status he has the power of the people because he is popular and loyal to everyone.

Works Cited:Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Cyrus Hoy. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1992.