importance of laetes and fortinbras in hamlet





The Importance of Laertes and Fortinbras in Hamlet
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a story of revenge and the way the characters in the play respond to grief and the demands of loyalty. The importance of Fortinbras and Laertes in the play is an issue much discussed, analyzed and critiqued. Fortinbras and Laertes are parallel characters to Hamlet, and they provide pivotal points on which to compare and contrast the actions and emotions of Hamlet throughout the play. They are also important in Hamlet as they are imperative to the plot of the play and the final resolution. Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras are three young men who are placed in similar circumstances, that is, to avenge their father\'s deaths. The way that each comes to terms with his grief and how he rise to the call of vengeance is one of main contrasts between the three.
Laertes is a mirror to Hamlet. Shakespeare has made them similar in many aspects to provide a greater base for comparison when avenging their respective father\'s deaths. Both Hamlet and Laertes love Ophelia. Hamlet wishes Ophelia to be his wife, Laertes loves Ophelia as a sister. Hamlet is a scholar at Wittenberg, and Laertes at France. Both men are admired for their swordsmenship. Both men loved and respected their fathers, and display deviousness when plotting to avenge their father\'s deaths.
Hamlet\'s response to grief is a trait starkly contrasted by Laertes. Laertes response to the death of his father is immediate anger. He is publicly angry, and he leads the public riot occurring outside Castle Elsinore, which Polonius\' death and quick burial served as a catalyst. He is suspicious, as is evident in his speech to Claudius. "How came he dead? I\'ll not be juggled with. / To hell, allegiance!" (4.5.130). On the other hand, Hamlet is very private and solemn with his grief. His mourning for King Hamlet is long and drawn out, two months after his father\'s death, he is still observed to be wearing "...suits of solemn black"(1.2.78). Claudius and Gertrude comment on his unhappiness, however it is not until Hamlet\'s first soliloquy that the audience is made aware of the depth of his suffering. Although dismayed at his mother\'s quick remarriage to his uncle, Hamlet suspects foul play in his father\'s murder but has no prove until the ghost discloses this information to him.
When brought to the call of avenging his father\'s death, Laertes is fast to act, he wants revenge and he wants it immediately. His actions are rash, being based in anger, and Claudius easily draws him into Denmark’s corruption. Claudius manipulates Laertes into becoming an ally to kill Hamlet. Laertes is confident of his abilities to regain honor through vengeance: "...my revenge will come"(1.2.78).
Contrasting to Laertes\' quick response, Hamlet procrastinates. Although Hamlet wants to regain honor by avenging his father\'s death, Hamlet is dubious of his ability to complete what he promised to the ghost. For two months he procrastinates, and he chides himself for doing so. Hamlet agonizes over what he is to do, and how he is to avenge the murder of his father. Whilst Laertes acts on impulse, and on a tryst with Claudius arising from the emotions of anger and revenge, Hamlet mulls over how he is going to act and defers action until his own procrastination disgusts him into acting. This does not mean, however that Hamlet is unable to act on impulse. Indeed in Act 5, when Laertes and Hamlet jump into Ophelia\'s grave it shows just how much Hamlet can act impulsively.
Despite the insidious actions of Laertes in proposing the challenge of a duel with Hamlet, Laertes is without the ability to think rationally (and vindictively) on the same level as Hamlet. Hamlet not only wants to avenge his father’s death; he wants Claudius to be eternally punished. “Now might I do it [pat], now ‘a 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” (3. 2.73-78). In this scene Hamlet refuses to kill Claudius while he is praying because he will go to heaven, and by killing him during the act of