In “Hamlet”, a play written by Shakespeare, there are many things that point to one of the main themes, which is revenge. Their also is many characters that can be compared and contrasted to Hamlet and revenge, but the one character that has the most prominent comparisons is Laertes. Hamlet and Laertes try to avenge their father’s deaths and it contributes to one of the main themes in the play which is revenge. By attempting to avenge their fathers’ deaths, it leads to there own untimely deaths. Laertes and Hamlet both share an extreme love for Ophelia and are both quick to anger, but they react to their father’s death differently which creates the theme of revenge throughout the play.
Hamlet and Laertes both have strong love for Ophelia. Hamlet expresses his love for Ophelia by saying “I loved Ophelia”(5.1.255). At the beginning of the play Hamlet acts as if he is crazy and does not like Ophelia, but in all actuality he loves her. He only verbally expresses his love for Ophelia once he finds out that she is dead and is witnessing her burial. His love for Ophelia is shown when stated that he is “ a lover of Ophelia” (McEvoy 189). Laertes also shows a strong love for Ophelia. With Ophelia being his sister he automatically is very protective of her. This is shown when Laertes states, “perhaps he loves you now, and now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch the virtue of his will, but you must fear”(1.3.14-16). Laertes is like the typical “big brother” because he watches out for Ophelia and tries to protect her at all times. Laertes also shows his love for Ophelia when he gives her relationship advice about Hamlet. While at Ophelia’s grave, Hamlet and Laertes fight about who loves her more. But like the older brother he is, “he begs [Ophilia] not to take Hamlets wooing seriously”(Shakespeare handbook 327). Hamlet and Laertes both have a strong love for Ophelia which makes the revenge stronger.
Both Hamlet and Laertes are quick to anger. Hamlet is quick to anger when he first learned that his father has been assassinated. This is shown when Hamlet states,”Haste me to know’t, that i, with the wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love, may i sweep to my revenge” (1.5.29-31). Hamlet is so outraged that his father has been murdered instead of dying from natural causes like he thought. It is shown that Hamlet knows that his father has been murdered when it is stated, “How can Hamlet call on Claudius to arrest himself for the secret murder that only the two of them know about”(McEvoy 188). Hamlet also is very angry with his mother for marrying another man, which just so happens to be his uncle, so quickly after his father’s death. Likewise Laertes is also very quick to anger. He is outraged when he comes home from Denmark to find out that his father had been slain.King Claudius states that “if you desire to know the certainty of your dear father’s death, it’s writ in your revenge, that, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe”(4.5.139-142). Not only is he angry that his father is dead, but that Hamlet is the one who killed him. Laertes quickness to anger is shown when “Laertes’ reaction reminds us that blood feuds lead only to further bloodshed: there will never be peace or justice while they are allowed to flourish” (McEvoy 188). Laertes thinks the only way to get revenge is by killing someone.
Furthermore, Hamlet and Laertes have one major difference. Their biggest difference is that Hamlet is slow to action when he is trying to avenge his father’s death, while on the other hand Laertes is quick to action when trying to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet is so slow to avenging his father’s death because he is so indecisive. He does not know whether to kill his uncle while he is praying or not. Hamlet states that he cannot “take him in the purging of his soul when he is fit and seasoned for his passage”(3.3.86-87). Hamlet takes his time in thinking about what he is going to do about his father’s death. While Laertes quickly wants to avenge his own father’s death. It is shown that Hamlet is slow to action when stated that he has “a mind too philosophical or a nature temperamentally unfitted to act quickly”(The world of Hamlet 255). Laertes is so angry about his father’s death that he wants to get revenge as soon as he is told, but King Claudius manipulates him in to waiting and schemes up a plan to to kill Hamlet.When King Claudius instructs Laertes to kill Hamlet Laertes states, “My lord, I will be ruled the rather if you could devise it so that I might be the organ” (4.7.69-71). King Claudius tells Laertes that he needs to kill Hamlet and not to help Laertes avenge his father but for his own personal reasons. It is shown that “Laertes seethes for revenge against Hamlet” (Cahn 331). Laertes is so mad at Hamlet that he wants revenge at that exact moment.
In all, Hamlet and Laertes both share a extreme love for Ophelia, and they are both quick to anger, but one of the biggest differences between them is their quickness to act on their father’s death. Because of this, revenge is a main theme in the play. By both of them trying to aveng both of their fathers deaths, it leads to their own untimely deaths.
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