Contrasting Fortinbras and Laertes with Hamlet Essay

1952 Words 8 Pages
In William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras and Hamlet find themselves in similar situations. While Hamlet waits for the right time to avenge his father's death, Laertes learns of his father's death and immediately wants vengeance, and Fortinbras awaits his chance to recapture land that used to belong to his father. Laertes and Fortinbras go about accomplishing their desires quite differently than Hamlet. While Hamlet acts slowly and carefully, Laertes and Fortinbras seek their revenge with haste. Although Laertes and Fortinbras are minor characters, Shakespeare molds them in order to contrast with Hamlet. Fortinbras and, to a greater extent, Laertes act as foils to Hamlet with respect to their motives for …show more content…
His uncle, Claudius, has killed his father, taken the throne, and married his mother. This leaves Hamlet feeling like his world has been crushed. By killing Claudius, Hamlet would not only avenge his father's death, but also dethrone a murderer and restore some order to his world. This sets Hamlet apart from Fortinbras and Laertes because Hamlet acts out of desperation while pride motivates Fortinbras and love makes Laertes act.

In addition to each character's motive, Shakespeare uses imagery and allusions to differences in character traits. Shakespeare hints about the nature of Fortinbras simply by choosing this name. The name Fortinbras is very similar to fortitude, which is firmness of the mind. Fortinbras fulfills this description when he persists in trying to reclaim land by attacking Poland. Instead of giving up on reclaiming his father's land when his uncle tells him not to attack Denmark, he sticks to his plan by taking a piece of Poland. The name Laertes is also significant because in Greek mythology, Laertes was the father of Odysseus and helped his son reclaim the throne. This implies that Laertes will take action if necessary. Shakespeare also compares Laertes to the image of a tidal wave when he returns from France in order to show that Laertes is unfaltering in his decisions as is a tidal wave in its course. In contrast to Fortinbras and
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