Essay On Laertes And Fortinbras In Hamlet

Powerful Essays
Amanda Stevenson
Dr. Sigler
EN 102
16 November 2015

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Although dynamic characters typically develop through solely personal obstacles, William Shakespeare uses the character Hamlet as a contradiction by illustrating his growth through other characters. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare strategically uses the characters of Laertes and Fortinbras in order to foil Hamlet. An extended metaphor of a two way mirror is created and through tangled family ties, internal conflict concerning perfection and the pursuit of justice, Shakespeare is able to demonstrate how the constant need for revenge can potentially lead to
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However, the two characters go about their revenge in different ways. Hamlet constantly claims to want revenge and is presented with several opportunities, but fails to act. On the other hand, When Laertes is presented with an opportunity, he strikes. This is supported by the fact that “The impulsive Laertes is an avenger” (Hattaway 87). This creates a bit of confusion, because it is unclear whether Hamlet is cautious or merely indecisive. Laertes is clearly confident in himself, and benefits from the constant encouragement from Claudius. It is said that “Laertes’ character becomes …. more evil as the play progresses” (McGee 156),because he consistently takes action. According to Arthur McGee, “like Polonius, he [Laertes] condones the incestuous marriage” (McGee 153), which is another difference between Laertes and Hamlet. As a foil, Laertes not only highlights Hamlet’s strengths, but also his weaknesses. In his book The Elizabethan Hamlet, Arthur McGee says that “The name Laertes occurs in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the context of the death of Achilles and it is possible that Shakespeare chose the name as suitable for a man who would match Hamlet in swordsmanship (McGee 154). This fully supports the idea of Laertes as a foil to
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