In Hamlet, what are the reactions of Laertes and Hamlet to the deaths of their fathers? Please explain. Thank you so much

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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When we first meet Hamlet, he is passive, melancholy, and pensive. His reaction to his father's death is outrage but he expresses this outrage by retreating into his thoughts. Throughout the play, Hamlet plans to avenge his father but continually delays killing Claudius for a number of reasons. Although Hamlet does act in the end, it is for these reasons that Hamlet is understood as a man of thought more than as a man of action. 

Laertes, on the other hand, is a man of action more than he is a man of thought. Upon knowledge of the death of his father, Polonius, he intends to enact swift revenge. 

And unlike Hamlet, who keeps his revenge plan to himself, Laertes does not hide his rage from anyone. Claudius informs Laertes that he had nothing to do with Polonius' death and then indicates Hamlet was the cause. Laertes seizes this opportunity to form an alliance with the king in order to expedite his revenge on Hamlet. 

My lord, I will be ruled; 

The rather, if you could devise it so 

That I might be the organ. (IV.vii.73-75) 

"Organ" here means the instrument of death. Laertes asks that he will be the one to kill Hamlet. Claudius agrees to this alliance with Laertes to protect himself against Hamlet and Laertes, who has the support of the people. 



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