The son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia is Laertes, a young Danish noble. He spends the majority of his time at university, but, like many other college students, he manages to cram a lot of adventure into the few moments he’s home.
Foil to Hamlet. Laertes, like Hamlet, kills his father and faces the same challenge as Hamlet: a slain parent. And that’s where the similarities end. While Hamlet strolls about and reflects on his father’s death for much of the play, Laertes gets right down to business.
Jehan invades the palace once he returns from France, gathers a following of supporters, and becomes enraged by his father’s death. To put it another way, if his mother had been out on his father, he would not have been devastated by his death.
It’s only after he leads a band of armed men into the castle that Laertes begins to inquire — unlike Hamlet, who asks a lot of questions before avenging his father’s death. They all end up dead and murdered in the same way, at each other’s hands. So, is Laertes’ method really preferable to Hamlet’s?
Big Brother: A little more than kin? Laertes’ affection for his father is obvious. He also adores his little sister—perhaps a bit too much. Yep, we’re thinking that there’s a whole lot more going on here.
And it’s not really surprising in a play about a young man who is obsessed with his mother’s sexuality and marriage to her brother-in-law. And, just like Hamlet, Laertes’ devotion to his family proved fatal —just as it did for Hamlet. Is Shakespeare suggesting that we should let go of our family ties? Or is death simply part of loving your relatives?
Hamlet sets out on a mission to get vengeance against his father’s murderer throughout the entire play. Some people support Hamlet, while others conspire against him. Laertes is one among those who are working towards the same goal as Hamlet. Both of them have a desire for vengeance for their fathers’ murders.
The main character’s actions can be contrasted using numerous foils in Hamlet by Shakespeare. Laertes, for example, shares a similar objective with Hamlet: to seek revenge. He is initially introduced as a young Danish nobleman who loves studying abroad. However, he learns that someone has slain his father, Polonius.
He returns to Denmark the moment he discovers that Polonius has been murdered, believing the man is responsible for his father’s death. He held Claudius personally responsible for Polonius’ death.
He has not verified if Claudius was actually involved in Polonius’ murder and makes judgments on the basis of assumptions. Hamlet inadvertently killed the wrong person by believing it was his father’s murderer, as did Ophelia when she mistakenly stabbed her brother with a poisoned letter intended for her father.
On the one hand, Hamlet and Laertes are both preoccupied with family and vengeance. Hamlet, on the other hand, remains gloomy and stern throughout the play. He frequently thinks about life’s fundamental questions.
His speech in act 3, beginning “To be, or not to be…,” depicts his interior struggles. Laertes is a hot-tempered actor; as a result of his rashness, he acts emotionally rather than logically in seeking revenge against Claudius. The murder of Laertes by his own sword is an example of poetic justice at work.
Hamlet and Fortinbras are both motivated by a desire to restore the land that has been taken away from their fathers in a border dispute. Following his death, Fortinbras’ uncle becomes king, similar to Hamlet’s position. In his efforts to reclaim Danish territories, Fortinbras files. Instead, he agrees to fight Poland but concedes once more. Due to their shared aims, Fortinbras serves as a foil for Hamlet.
However, the characters have nothing in common. Hamlet does not cease his pursuit of vengeance until his father is avenged during the story’s conclusion. Fortinbras, on the other hand, recognizes that revenge may be difficult for him in his position.
Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes are all motivated by a desire for revenge for their fathers’ deaths. While Hamlet and Laertes are focused on revenge, Fortinbras is more preoccupied with reclaiming the throne. Personal reasons drive Hamlet’s actions, whereas Laertes is focused on his own agenda. Fortinbras acts on behalf of Norway and fulfills his responsibilities to his people rather than seeking vengeance for himself or others.
On the other hand, Fortinbras and Laertes contrast Hamlet throughout the narrative. They do not overthink ethical difficulties and take action right away. Before acting, Hamlet prefers to scheme, plan, and have interior moral debates.
Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, and Laertes’ sister is another significant character foil. She has the same degree of madness as Hamlet. Ophelia’s suicide demonstrates her mental problems since she decides to kill herself. Hamlet considers suicide, which reflects his inner turmoil. The state of Ophelia is comparable to that of Hamlet.
She does not hesitate to take action; unlike Hamlet, she maintains self-control. Ophelia goes insane after witnessing the death of her father in act 3, similarly to Hamlet before her. Unlike Hamlet, though, Ophelia regains control over herself as she seeks vengeance against Claudius.