An analysis of the characters of Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, revenge is the central topic, which breathes life into the play. As his main objective in life, Hamlet craves to avenge his father’s death, the king of Denmark, betrayed and killed by his own brother. Throughout the play, Hamlet comes across two other main characters in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Laertes and Fortinbras, whose fathers are also murdered. Even though there are differences between these 3 characters, this series of unfair deaths puts them in the same situation and makes them have aspects in common. ...view middle of the document...
This fact causes Hamlet more hatred towards his uncle, since he doesn’t only take his mother as wife, but also murders his father, a person to whom he feels so much honor. Thus, Hamlet decides to take revenge, “This is most brave, that I, the son of a dear father murdered, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell.” For this, he prepares a play to prove if his uncle is the real murderer, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Effectively, the play confirms it and he is about to kill his uncle at church, but Hamlet’s moral doesn’t consider it as a good idea and it’s his constant thinking about revenge that stops him from taking action. With Hamlet’s accidental killing of Polonius, another side of his personality is perceived and it’s his humility to admit he is wrong. It is not Hamlet’s fault even though Polonius was helping his uncle and for this, Hamlet feels guilty and accepts his mistake in front of her mother and later on, in front of Laertes, son of Polonius, “For this same lord I do repent.” “Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong, but pardon ‘t as you are a gentleman.” Hamlet respects Laertes, since they have shared many moments together, he considers him his brother, “Free me so far in your most generous thoughts that I have shot my arrow o’er the house and hurt my brother”. Even at Ophelia’s funeral, he confesses he loves him and at the end, Hamlet seems to understand Laertes’ pain and anger towards him. As for Fortinbras, Hamlet feels just admiration even knowing he is going to attack soon, “Examples gross as earth exhort me. Witness this army of such mass and charge, led by a delicate and tender prince, whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed, makes mouths at the invisible event (…).”
On the other hand, Laertes is a devoted son and brother. He only wants the best for his sister Ophelia, who is Hamlet’s lover, “Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister, and keep you in the rear of your affection, out of the shot and danger of desire.” Unlike Hamlet, he is decisive and fast to act when it comes to revenge, something that might represent a weak spot in him. Laertes also feels honor for his beloved father and after finding out his father is murdered by Hamlet, he wants to avenge as well, no matter the implications of this decision, “Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father.” “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 the age for her perfections. But my revenge will come.” A tremendous rage overwhelms his body, destabilizing him. The actual king, Claudius, easily manipulates him in order to kill Hamlet as a benefit for both. “Will you be ruled by me?” “My lord, I will be ruled; the rather if you could devise it so that I might be the organ.” He even lets his moral aside and doesn’t care if Hamlet’s death is in church, “To cut his throat i’ th’church.”...