Hamlet clearly apologizes to Laertes in Act V, Scene II. How does Laertes respond? Given what we know about the plans of Laertes and Claudius, how do you take Laertes' promise? Can we say he has...

Hamlet clearly apologizes to Laertes in Act V, Scene II. How does Laertes respond? Given what we know about the plans of Laertes and Claudius, how do you take Laertes' promise? Can we say he has any honor at all? Has he followed his father's precept in Act I, Scene III?

Asked on by hug22trees

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When Hamlet apologizes, saying that it was his madness which caused him to insult Laertes and nothing more, Laertes replies that his feelings are satisfied, but what has happened to his father and his sister does not allow his honor to be satisfied. He cannot forgive Hamlet without harming his own reputation--he feels he must receive the opinions of his elders to the contrary before he forgives Hamlet--but until then Laertes does accept Hamlet's offer of love.
....But in my terms of my honor
I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement
Till by some elder masters, of known honor,
I have a voice and precedent of peace
To keep my name ungored (5.2.232-236)
In terms of honor, just as Hamlet has avowed to defend the honor of his father, Laertes rightly seeks to avenge the death of his father and the tragic suicide of his sister. But, while he is right in principle, he is wrong to conspire with Claudius because he has a sharper point on his sword and he has the tip poisoned with every intention, therefore, of making certain that Hamlet is killed. Therefore, he does not follow his father's advice to "Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment" because he has arranged for himself a dishonorable advantage over Hamlet.
Sources:

We’ve answered 318,988 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question