In "Hamlet" Laertes is exploited by the cunning King Claudius.  How far do you agree with this?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do agree with that statement, but it certainly wasn't very hard for him to do so.  Laertes had just lost his father and sister, and both deaths could be tied, either directly or indirectly, back to Hamlet.  Laertes was already mad, already fuming, already vowing revenge.  King Claudius just took that justifiable anger that Laertes had for Hamlet, and used it for his own advantage.  Claudius had his own insidious intentions for Laertes and his revenge--he approached Laertes with seeming concern only for him, but had his own reasons for wanting Hamlet out of the picture.  Claudius is an opportunist--when he sees an opportunity that will fit to his advantage, he takes it.  He dispatched of his brother in an opportune moment, taking the kingdom for his own.  He then pounced on the opportunity of taking Hamlet's mother for his own.  He took the "opportunity" of Polonius's death to get Hamlet out of the country, and to set up his supposed awful and accidental death (which didn't work).  When that plan to get rid of Hamlet failed, he used the opportunity that presented itself in Laertes, as a stricken and wrathful brother and son.  Claudius has a talent for taking a situation and tweaking it to his advantage, and that is what he did with Laertes.  Unfortunately for him, this one turns on him in a very devastating way, as his wife is taken, and then he himself is killed through his conniving.  I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!