What does the fact that Laertes has been living in France make Horatio think that Hamlet will lose the sword fighting contest?act 5 sc 2

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this scene it is mentioned that Laertes has been studying with an expert French swordsman and that his skills are excellent.  Horatio predicts Hamlet will lose against Laertes because he does not know that Hamlet has also been brushing up on his skills.  If Hamlet had not, it stands to reason that study with an expert in the field of swordsmanship, or any other expertise for that matter, would give him an advantage in the contest.  Hamlet tells Horatio that he has been practicing and feels confident in his abilities to compete with Laertes, despite a sense that something is wrong-- “as would perhaps trouble a woman.”  This is Hamlet's Spider Sense kicking in to tell him that the arrangement is not just a convenience and source of entertainment for the bored royal party...there is something more involved. 

lensor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Laertes has been actively fencing while studying in France. In fact, he has been studying with a master swordsman.  As far as Horatio knows, Hamlet is out of practice with sword and epee.  Therefore, at least as far as Horatio is concerned,  Laertes is the more accomplished fencer and should easily defeat Hamlet in any contest with swords. 

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Hamlet

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