Can you compare and contrast Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras from "Hamlet"?I want to compare and contrast them. (I dont want u to do my assignment for me, I just want some points and a few helpful...

Can you compare and contrast Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras from "Hamlet"?

I want to compare and contrast them. (I dont want u to do my assignment for me, I just want some points and a few helpful tips.)

any help will be appreciated xD

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In seven soliloquies Hamlet deliberates with himself over such things as what the meaning of life is, how his mother could be so disloyal to her king and husband, why he cannot bring himself to avenge his father's murder; however, in his final soliloquy, he wonders why he is in such sharp contrast to Fortinbras:

...Now whether it be/Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple/Of thinking too precisely on th' event--/A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom/And ever three parts coward--I do not know/Why yet I live to say "This thing's to do',/SSith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means,/To do't.  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,/Exposing what is mortal and unsure/To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,/Even for an eggshell.(IV,iv,39-53)

Hamlet wonders how he can continue to lack resolve to avenge his father's murder when the "delicate and tender" Fortinbras is willing to die "for a fantasy and trick of fame," for an ideal. The battlefield of Fortinbras and the Polish armies is nearly worthless, yet they are willing to fight and die for honor while Hamlet notes his inaction regarding "a father killed, and a mother stained."

In the final act Fortinbras succeeds to the throne of Denmark after Hamlet dies.  Like Hamlet Fortinbras has sought to avenge his father's death, but unlike Hamlet he does not delay.  His entrance at the end of Act V allows him to have his revenge and ascend the throne. 

Also in sharp contrast to Hamlet's melancholic inaction is Laertes's choleric reaction to the death of his father, Polonius.  For, when Laertes returns from France, he bursts into the castle vowing revenge against Claudius whom he calls a "vile king"(IV,v,116).  Claudius swears that he has had nothing to do with the death of Polonius and reveals that Hamlet is the murderer.  And, when the king reveals a plot to kill Hamlet, Laertes readily agrees to be a part of this plan:

My lord, I will be ruled;/The rather if you could devise it so/That I might be the organ. (IV,vii,67-69)

Also, unlike Hamlet, Laertes can be manipulated by the king, who exhorts Laertes to show himself

in deed your father's son/More than in words (IV, vii,122)

Laertes even goes so far as to agree to cut Hamlet's throat in the church.  That he has been swayed by the king into dueling Hamlet is evidenced just before Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poisoned rapier as Laertes says in an aside, "And yet it is almost against my conscience" (V,ii,296).  While this loss of resolve may resemble that of Hamlet, it is in contrast to Hamlet's long deliberation which prevents hasty resolves that one regrets later. 

In the final act, Laertes admits to his villainy and he and Hamlet forgive each other:  Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet/Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,/Nor thine on me. (V,ii,308-310)  Thus, they both display integrity.  In fact, all three--Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes-display a nobleness of character in Shakespeare's "Hamlet."  

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