Perception Of A Tragic Hero: "Hamlet"

1692 words - 7 pages

Perceptions and understanding of Shakespearean language evolve as time passes. It is reasonable to believe that Laertes is more of a tragic hero than Hamlet. In order for this to be seen effectively, a comparison must be made between Laertes and Hamlet. In the play Hamlet, Laertes is a character who grabs the audience's attention. His devotion to succeed, despite disadvantages is both motivational and tragic situations, is inspirational to some extent. His portrayal as the antagonist is very effective in conveying the message that, the easy way may not always be the right path to pursue. In the end, people are accountable for their own actions. To Laertes, the urge to avenge a loved ones ...view middle of the document...

In Hamlets case, the time of mourning must have past since he is the only one that continues this. Gertrude, his mother questions this behaviour. She does so by saying, "cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not for ever with thy veiled lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity," (I, II, 68-73). On the other hand, Laertes, despite loosing his father by the hands of his friend Hamlet, still shows optimism. He had every reason to mourn, and would have the added feeling of betrayal, but even so, he is not as distraught as Hamlet. This goes to show that his optimism in justice will be served makes him a greater tragic hero than Hamlet.However, another characteristic possessed by Laertes is that he is noble. He wins the admiration of the audience because of his bravery and non-hesitant behaviour. Not only does the audience admire this man, so do the characters of this play. We see that men follow Laertes to offer assistance where needed, "save yourself, my lord: The ocean, overpeering of his list, Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste Than young Laertes, in a riotous head," (IV, V, 96-99). The devotion he has towards his cause can be shown with his self-sacrificial statement, "and like the kind life-rendering pelican, Repast them with my blood," (IV, V, 143-144).Perhaps, the flaw that leads to Laertes' detriment is that he is easily manipulated. Claudius, who is Hamlet's uncle, uses Laertes for his own revenge on Hamlet. This begs the question if the first two blows encountered within the fencing match were intentional. Because of the death of his beloved sister, and the fact that his father was murdered, Laertes may have felt he no longer had anything to live for. His friend Hamlet can be linked to both deaths. Only towards the end is Hamlet able to rationalize his actions by saying, "this presence knows, And you must needs have heard, how I am punish'd with sore distraction. What I have done, that might your nature, honour and exception roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness." (V, II, 217-223). Another factor which would lead the audience to believe Laertes intentionally let Hamlet hit him, was that Hamlet was not confident in his own fencing skills. In this statement, Hamlet is quoted saying "I will win for him an I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits," (V, II, 171-173). This gives circumstantial evidence that Laertes was better at the sport, and therefore let Hamlet hit him the first two times on purpose. This would go with the plan set by Claudius; the first hit, he would drink to Hamlets health and then put a poisonous gem in the wine. The second hit, Hamlet would drink the poison. Because of this manipulation, and not seizing the appropriate opportunity, Laertes was killed by Hamlet.The flaws shown in Hamlet are that he is procrastinates and that he is indirect. Hamlet shows...

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