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How does Shakespeare invite us to compare and contrast Hamlet with Laertes and...

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egonzalez007 | Student

Posted January 30, 2007 at 10:50 AM via web

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How does Shakespeare invite us to compare and contrast Hamlet with Laertes and Fortinbras?

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted January 30, 2007 at 11:50 AM (Answer #1)

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Laertes and Fortinbras both experience something similar to Hamlet, in that they are driven to seek revenge. Unlike Hamlet, they actually act on their feelings and do not suffer from the paralyzing doubt that Hamlet feels.

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kirstens | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 8, 2008 at 3:09 AM (Answer #2)

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If you consider the characters of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras, they have remarkable similarities, thus inviting comparison.  First, they are all sons of murdered fathers.  Hamlet's father, like Fortinbras', was a military leader.  Both were killed by men wanting power.  Interestingly, Hamlet and Fortinbras were denied the throne after their fathers' murders.  Claudius kept Hamlet from the throne of Denmark, while Fortinbras' uncle usurped his throne. 

Considering Laertes, he is remarkably similar, as well.  Aside from the murdered father similarity, he is tragically affected by Claudius; Hamlet is, too.  Both Laertes and Hamlet are killed by the poison rapier that Claudius deemed a worthy lethal weapon.  They were both killed as a result of their own thirst for revenge.  Had Hamlet and Laertes tried to resolve their problems in a professional and respectful manner, they would have seen the error of their ways.  But hatred blinded their judgment and revenge became paramount.


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cokes | Student, Undergraduate

Posted March 13, 2008 at 4:29 AM (Answer #3)

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shakespeare uses the theme of revenge to compare and contrast the three characters. All of them are revenge heros who are seeking revenge for their family and the family reputation. Hamlet wants revenge on his uncle claudius for killing his father. Laertes wants revenge on Hamlet for killing his Father polonious and causing the madness of his sister ophielia. Finally Fortinbras is going to war with poland in order to regain land lost by his deceased father. As we can see all of these characters want to take revenge for their fathers.

Also their attitudes are different and vary greatly. Hamlet is philosopical, about the concepts of life, death and human endevour. This makes him very hesitant. He is also very wordly and expresses his changing emotions verbally through the use of soliloquies, were he continously critisises himself and often works himself into a feigned anger.

On the other hand Fortinbras and Laertes are both strong minded, impulsive and eager to take action. Unlike Hamlet they do not think things through, thus making them typical tragic heros.

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revolution | College Teacher

Posted August 25, 2009 at 8:09 PM (Answer #4)

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  1. They are all seeking revenge for the murder of their fathers, military leaders, slain just for fame and glory
  2. They were denied of the throne and was taken over by someone by force
  3. They were mostly affected by Claudius, the poison ivy in the story


  1. Hamlet is a reflective and thoughtful but sometimes indecisive and hesitant but on some occasions, prone to rash and impulsive acts.
  2. Laertes is a complete foil for Hamlet. He is passionate and quick to action and do something good
  3. Fortinbas is also another foil for Hamlet. He act on his own feelings and thoughts without external factors affecting his own decisions.

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