Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hamlet vs. Laertes - Righteousness

People often compare Laertes and Hamlet, and both do have a lot of similarities, but I would like to point out a difference that, I think, at least casts Hamlet in a little more favorable light in this instance. In Act III scene iii, Hamlet resolves that he will kill Claudius, and goes to the king's chamber to find him "praying" (we find out a few lines later that he was trying to pray but to no avail). Anyways, Hamlet decides that he cannot kill Claudius right then, because he was doing something righteous and "And so he goes to heaven, And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd. A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven."

Laertes, on the other hand, does not care about righteousness or wickedness, he just wants revenge. Claudius asks him how far he would go to kill Hamlet and he responds, "To cut his throat i' th' church" (Act IV scene vii)! Obviously Laertes is a little more bloodthirsty than Hamlet, and goes as far as not worrying about his own soul as well as others. Which character is the better person? I say neither, for many reasons.


  1. yes, Hamlet is more concerned for spiritual matters, but because of that, he's almost worse, don't you think? He won't kill him then, because he wants the MOST Pain and suffering to come upon his victim. so he's aware of heaven, and he DOES NOT want his father's murderer to get there... Hamlet thinks about everything in great extent. Leartes is just angry.

  2. Good point. However, I also feel like Laertes doesn't care about damning himself through murdering Hamlet (thus he would even kill him in a church), but Hamlet does not want to damn himself through the murder of Claudius. He says, "Thus, the spirit that I have seen May be a devil... As he is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me" (Act II, scene ii). His indecision is partially because he is not sure that the ghost was good, and therefore does not want to damn himself if the devil is tricking him.