The Character of Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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The Character of Laertes in Hamlet

Though seeming to simply be a minor character, Laertes is of great importance in the play, Hamlet, and much more than one would initially believe, due to his extensive inner conflict. He is good, loyal, and honorable, seeming to possess the greatest virtue of all the characters, yet he still is doomed to die along with the other characters, precisely because of his great virtue.

As Scene Two begins, in the first lines which Laertes speaks in the play, he requests that King Claudius allow him to return to his duties in France. This is important from the viewpoint that it demonstrates his dislike for the King and his wish to be away from the questionable circumstances of his marriage and
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It seems that it would be difficult for Laertes to not know of this messenger?s second duty as spy, as it is mentioned in the text ?You must not put another scandal on him,? (2.1.29), implying that this has happened before, somehow. From this, one could feel that Laertes expects this from his scheming, plotting, underhanded father, he still goes along with it, and harbours great love for the old man, as is shown on Laertes? return to England.

While Laertes is off in France, however, Polonius is killed by Hamlet, the Queen recalling that he ?Whips out his rapier, cries ?A rat, a rat!?? (4.1.10), implying that Polonius is indeed a ?rat?, in the most underhanded and demeaning sense of the word. Then, Ophelia goes mad the same night as Laertes returns to Denmark, with an armed mob shouting for him to take the throne, though he finds it against his honour to take the throne from Claudius by force, and only wishes to find what has become of his father.

Though Polonius was spying on him, and Laertes most likely was aware of his father?s ways, he still feels great love for the old man, and desires only revenge for the wrongful death of his kin. He declares that he will repay his friends, and have vengeance on those who are his enemies. To this, King Claudius replies ?Why, now you speak/ Like a good child?(4.5.143), and though he finishes the statement with ?and a
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