Laertes In Hamlet

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When one contemplates Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, one can quite easily pick out the protagonist of the famous play as Hamlet. However, there is one character that could be considered Hamlet’s mirror image. While Laertes isn’t a perfect parallel of Hamlet, he does reflect many aspects of Hamlet as well as adding a sense of irony to the play. In doing this, Shakespeare uses Laertes to represent the character Hamlet could have been if he had chosen another path. Throughout the play, Laertes is often described in a respectable manner as he is characterized as being generally well-liked by common folk and royalty alike. As shown near the final act of the play, “the rabble call him lord” (IV, v) and they cast their lots with…show more content…
Shakespeare’s usage of Laertes’s character juxtaposes that of Hamlet. Laertes is often parallel to Hamlet in that they are similar, but there are slight differences that matter all the same. As mentioned previously, Laertes is well liked by all; Hamlet is also respected but in another manner. Hamlet is not well liked by the people of the castle as he is much too sharp, but to the common folk “He’s loved of the distracted multitude,/ Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes” (IV, iii). In addition, the fathers of both Hamlet and Laertes have been murdered. Hamlet’s driving motive throughout the play has always been to avenge his father’s death, and so, ironically, Hamlet’s actions result in the death of Polonius, thereby adding another point of comparison between himself and Laertes. Shakespeare then continues the irony by having Laertes willing to do what Hamlet could not, that is kill in a church. Laertes would avenge his father, no matter the cost, unlike Hamlet who claimed that nothing could prevent him from murdering King Claudius, and yet he became too cowardice to attempt. Instead, Hamlet paused and retreated when he found Claudius false-heartedly praying for salvation: “But is our circumstance and course of thought,/ ‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,/ To take him in the purging of his soul,/ When he is fit and season’d for his passage?/ No!” (III, iii). This disjunction between the two is yet more irony in an already very ironic
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