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I need help identifying two situations in Hamlet that Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras...

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jasmine001 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:39 AM via web

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I need help identifying two situations in Hamlet that Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras share. Explain how each character reacts to the situation and the trait suggested by each character's reaction to his situation. 

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mattbuckley | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted October 29, 2013 at 2:39 AM (Answer #1)

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In the classic play Hamletby William Shakespeare, there are many character foils. Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras are drawn with many similarities and differences. They all oppose each other for basically the same reasons. They all attempt to avenge their fathers and do so at whatever cost. They also all act on a sense of personal pride and honor.

Fortinbras is the son of King Fortinbras who lost his life and much land in a battle against King Hamlet. Now,

young Fortinbras,/Of unimproved mettle hot and full/Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,/Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,/For food and diet, to some enterprise/That hatha stomach in't; which is no other -/As doth well appear unto our state,-/But to recover of us, by strong hand,/And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands/So by his father lost.

Hamlet is obviously trying to avenge his father's murder by getting back at the new king, his uncle Claudius. He acts on pride and honor by not simply killing Claudius when he has the chance, seeing him alone in the act of prayer, because it would send his soul to heaven. He is reminded that his father never had this chance and therefore his pride forces him to wait until he finds the king in act of sin so as to send him to hell.

Laertes is trying to avenge his father's death by the hand of Prince Hamlet. He feels personal injury has been given him by the Prince and out of pride he makes a show of his vengeance. He first storms the castle and confronts Claudius. Then, he poisons his blade to kill Hamlet in a grand fashion in front of everyone in a public fencing match. It is only too late that he realizes that "the king's to blame".

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