16 March 2019
Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras
The theme of revenge is widely represented in the novel of William Shakespeare ‘Hamlet’. Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras are three main characters that reveal the feeling of revenge. They all are very similar but yet different at the same time. They all had love and respect for their fathers and felt the need to avenge their deaths. However, through the play three characters chose different ways to avenge for their father’s deaths.
Hamlet is the main character in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. He discovers the cause of his father’s death was because of his uncle Claudius. He grieves deeply for his father. The appearance of the ghost of his father leads to Hamlet’s understanding of his father’s murder: “If thou didst ever thy dear father love—Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5, Lines 23 and 25), ”The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown,” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5, Lines 38-39). Hamlet decides that the best plan of action is to fake madness and insanity but still strive for revenge. As the play develops, Hamlet’s act of being a madman becomes more and more convincing, and his friends and family do not pay too much attention to his insane words and insane actions. However, we understand the artificial nature of Hamlet’s insanity. It gives him freedom in his upcoming actions. Hamlet is a kind of a character that thinks a lot before acting. Wearing a mask of insanity, he was planning his actions on how to handle his revenge. He calmly overanalyzes each detail and eventually he is hesitating in everything. This leads him to inertness – he, who hesitates in every detail, has no longer motivation for immediate action. Hamlet finds himself feeling better in the abundance of negative things: betrayal, death and others. He is obsessed with them. Furthermore, being concentrated only on such things, he regards himself as a moral person. Hamlet deeply contemplates about his soul and its place. He thinks about the fact that revenge is not a good action to make his soul get to heavens. His morality is supported by the scene of Claudius’s pray: “No might I do it pat, now he is praying” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene 3, Lines 74-75). He shows weakness as he is hesitating and searching for an adequate moment to take vengeance. Hamlet is unwilling to share his real thoughts and his grief, this fact is intelligible, considering the acts of Claudius – the king found two university friends of Hamlet and called them to try and decode Hamlet’s actions.
Laertes is a minor character. However, his actions play an important role in the development of the main character – Hamlet. Laertes comes from a noble family which has a good status and reputation in society. Like Hamlet’s father, Polonius was also killed by a close person to the family. Laertes is also suffering through the accidental death of his father and a perfidy of a close person. Laertes chooses a way for revenge different from Hamlet’s. He is driven by emotions. He does not overanalyze anything – he just acts. He is a rash actor, as nothing can distract him from his revenge. Because of this, he is easily influenced, for example, by Claudius. His rage has led him to his death from his own sword. As regards thoughts about afterlife, Laertes pays no attention to it – his only desire is revenge at any costs. He shows his grief publicly – he calls a crowd for a riot, he struggles for an immediate action.
Fortinbras shows a pretty similar reaction comparing to Laertes. He is eager to act – he has gathered an army for conquering Denmark. His is a prince of Norway, but likewise Hamlet did not receive the crown, he was not crowned too. There is no grief after his father; Fortinbras is led by desire to get the crown. His dispossession of the crown was a great shock for him. He decides to control another kingdom. He shows no respect, no care about thousands of people in his army. He wants to win honour with his sword, sacrificing thousands of lives. Obviously, Fortinbras is not thinking about his afterlife – his lives in present time with his only desire – to gain victory at any costs.
Although Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras are all concerned with their revenge for their fathers’ death, they choose different ways of realizing their desire. The author shows a revenge driven by emotions, a well-thought out retaliation and a real vendetta with sacrifices. Being concentrated on revenge, all three characters are subtly built in order to represent completely different tempers.