Laertes and Hamlet
Laertes and Hamlet both display impulsive reactions when angered. Once Laertes discovers his father has been murdered, he immediately assumes the slayer is Claudius. As a result of Laertes’ speculation, he instinctively moves to avenge Polonius’ death. “To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation: to this point I stand, that both worlds I give to negligence, let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father.” (IV, v, 128-134) These lines provide insight into Laertes’ mind, displaying his desire for revenge at any cost.
In contrast to Laertes speculation of his father’s killer, Hamlet presumes the individual spying on his conversation with Gertrude is Claudius: “Nay, I know not: is it the King?”(III, iv, 28). Consequently, Hamlet, consumed with rage, automatically thrusts out attempting to kill Claudius, but instead strikes Polonius. Hamlets and Laertes’ imprudent actions are incited by fury and frustration. Sudden anger prompts both Hamlet and Laertes to act spontaneously, giving little thought to the consequences of their actions.
Hamlet and Laertes share a different, but deep, love and concern for Ophelia. Before his departure for France, Laertes provides lengthy advice to Ophelia pertaining to her relationship with Hamlet. Laertes voices his concern of Hamlet’s true intentions towards Ophelia and advises her to be wary of Hamlet’s love. Laertes impresses upon Ophelia that Hamlet is a prince who, most likely, will have an arranged marriage. Hamlet’s strong love for Ophelia withers after she rejects his affinity. Hamlet’s extensive love for Ophelia resulted in grave suffering for Hamlet once his affection was rejected. Hamlet’s appearance decays due to the rejection of his love for Ophelia: “Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other” (II, i, 82). The loss of Ophelia’s love for Hamlet causes Polonius to believe it has caused Hamlet to revert to antic disposition. Once Laertes learns of the death of his sister, he is afflicted with sadness. In the same way, Hamlet is shocked and enraged over Ophelia’s demise. Both Hamlet and Laertes are so profoundly distressed at the death of Ophelia, they jump into her grave and fight each other.
Although Hamlet and Laertes despised one another, they both loved Ophelia. Hamlet was infatuated with Ophelia, which was obvious during his constant anguish over her (in her rejection of him, and in her death, Hamlet suffered greatly). Laertes showed a strong brotherly love for Ophelia, which was made evident in his advice to her. Laertes further displayed his love for Ophelia during her funeral when he fought with Hamlet.
Hamlet and Laertes are similar in the way they associate with their families. Laertes highly respects and loves his father Polonius. Similarly, Hamlet holds a great respect for his dead father (Hamlet compares his father to a sun god “Hyperion”). After the deaths of their fathers, Hamlet and Laertes strive to seek revenge on the assassins. Hamlet and Laertes exhibit domineering attitudes towards females. Hamlet’s deep love for Ophelia is evident in his reaction to her rejection of him. In the same way, Laertes care and affection are revealed by his advice to his sister. Laertes gives his sister, Ophelia, guidance on her relationship with Hamlet. In the same way, Hamlet is able to persuade Gertrude he is not mad and manipulate her to follow his instructions. Hamlet directs his mother to convince Claudius of Hamlet’s madness. Hamlet is able to make his mother reflect upon her part in the death of his father and feel guilt: “Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul, and there I see such black and grained spots as will not leave their tinct.” (III, iv, 90-93). Furthermore, Hamlet instructs his mother not to sleep with Claudius, a pretentious statement for one to make to his mother. The fathers of both Laertes and Hamlet attempted to use spies to gain information on their sons (although not his real father, Claudius was his uncle as well as his stepfather). Claudius employed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to gather information on Hamlet. In comparison, Polonius dispatches Reynaldo to check up on Laertes. The families of Laertes and Hamlet possess similar attributes.
Hamlet and Laertes demonstrate rash behavior when infuriated. Hamlet becomes outraged at the notion of Claudius spying on him, which results in Hamlet mistakenly killing Polonius. Laertes becomes drastically angered at the death of his father and boldly seeks vengeance against Claudius. Momentary rage overcomes Laertes and Hamlet, which prompts them to act spontaneously.
Hamlet and Laertes both have a strong love for Ophelia. Hamlet and Laertes hold a high admiration for their fathers and are willing to even kill the king to enact revenge. Both characters exercise a dominating attitude toward females. In conclusion, although Hamlet and Laertes are adversaries, they share several characteristics.