Who is more noble--Hamlet or Laertes?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe without a doubt that Hamlet possesses the qualities that make a man noble. Webster's dictionary defines noble as  "possessing, characterized by, or arising from the superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals." This certainly describes Hamlet, but not Laertes. Laertes acts rashly throughout the play, allowing Claudius to use him as a puppet to kill Hamlet. Laertes sees his mistake at the end and tells Hamlet the two of them should forgive each other. It is the role of Laertes to act as Hamlet's foil in the play.

Hamlet is a character who fits the definition of a noble man completely. Not only is his intellect superior, but his character is as well. It is this very superiority that causes him to delay in seeking revenge for his father's death. His understanding of the moral dilemma he faces causes great anguish for Hamlet. Hamlet is not a rash person who can murder another human being without having clear proof of the other's guilt. Hamlet is a sensitive man who is overcome by grief for his father's death and concern for his mother's possible role in his father's death. It is his nobility that causes him not to take immediate action; he is a superior human being in all aspects, and it would have been out of character for him to avenge his father without thinking it through completely.

arjun | Student

It is a universal truth that hero is adventurer, patient, mankind, wise etc; if we say Laerates is nobler then he should be hero, because he might have superiority to all. So, it is untrue and Hamlet is nobler, as Ophelia says:

O, what a noble..........., sword,
Hamlet laments and the ghost discloses his father`sdeath and the name of murderer, it is heart rendering, needs proof for it, where as Laerates is informed about the death of his father, he remains blind to reality. So Hamlet is more prudent.
When he is given chance to kill his enemy, he doesn’t because he is praying. It proves him a real man but not animal. It means hero has patience that causes his tragedy.
Hamlet is well known Prince, all love and respect him. He speaks scholarly. All relations make him a man of good moral character and his suffering seems of all, where as Laerates is not like that.
Hamlet is not puppet to any one but conscience, where as Laerates is puppet to Claudius and desires to suck Hamlet’s blood. It is his love and nobility that being Prince he tries to convince Laerates at the time of burying Ophelia, but Laerates stood callous to him. So, it was love that bowed him to disclose reality. During combat, Laerates got the truth that the great enemy was Claudius, on it he gave the poisoned sword to Hamlet to hit him because he was ashamed of his action and tried to be hero at the end. It was futile. So, Hamlet is nobler than Laerates.