Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras

This essay has a total of 1132 words and 5 pages.

Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras

Hamlet, Fortinbras and Leartes are all very different people with different lives, but as
these men interact in the play we learn that there are many circumstances surrounding them
that mysteriously connect them. All three of these characters had some reason to avenge
some circumstance in their life, but they all had a very different way of conquering the
object of their hatred.

Fortinbras had levied an army to attack and conquer Denmark. Though son of the late King
of Norway, the crown of Norway had gone to his uncle, just as the crown of Denmark had
gone to Hamlet's uncle. This shows that in the world of the play it was not unusual for
brothers to late kings to be elected to the throne over the pretensions of their younger
nephews. But Fortinbras was not prepared to accept his constitutional dispossession so
easily. If he had been deprived of the throne of his father, he would try to conquer a
kingdom of his own in which, as he later tells Horatio, he has "some rights of memory."

Fortinbras is not willing to put an end to his military adventures. Desiring to win honor
through the sword, he cares not that the prize of his glory is worthless or that he will
sacrifice thousands of lives and much wealth for this hollow victory. Like Hamlet, Sr.,
Fortinbras is an empire builder who desires only to fight for glory and so, in an ironic
way, he is fitted by character to inherit the kingdom of Hamlet, Sr.

Laertes is a young man whose good instincts have been somewhat obscured by the concern
with superficial appearances which he has imbibed from his father, Polonius. Like his
father, Laertes apparently preaches a morality he does not practice and fully believes in
a double standard of behavior for the sexes. But if his father allows him these liberties,
it is that he may better approximate the manner of a so - called gentleman. More concerned
with the outward signs of gentility than with any inner refinement of spirit, Laertes has
well observed his father's advice to be concerned with appearances since "the apparel oft
proclaims the man."

As unconcerned for the order of society as he is for his own salvation, he would rather
"dare damnation" than leave his father's honor and his own besmirched. Though the sight of
his sister's madness brings him to a moment of true grief, he is still primarily enraged
by his father's "obscure funeral - / No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones, / No
noble rite nor formal ostentation." To vindicate his honor, Laertes stoops to a most
dishonorable practice.

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