The Examination of Hamlet and Laertes as Foils

955 words 4 pages
William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet relays Hamlet’s quest to avenge the murder of his father, the king of Denmark. The late King Hamlet was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who took the throne and Hamlet’s mother Gertrude for himself. Hamlet is beseeched by the ghost of his father to take vengeance upon Claudius; while he swears to do so, the prince inexplicably delays killing Claudius for months on end. Hamlet’s feeble attempt to first confirm his uncle’s guilt with a play that recounts the murder and his botched excuses for not killing Claudius when the opportunity arises serve as testimony to Hamlet’s true self. Hamlet is riddled with doubt towards the validity of the ghost and his own ability to carry out the act necessary to …show more content…

Be it romantic or familial, Hamlet’s and Laertes’s affection for Ophelia serves as a strong connection between their similar characters. However, it is also a driving factor in their loathing for each other, and eventual confrontation. The most obvious and important parallel between Hamlet and Laertes is the murder of their fathers, and both of their driving need to avenge their deaths. The young men are fueled by rage and the heavily instilled idea of vengeance that permeated throughout the time in history in which the play takes place. Ultimately, this connection is what truly makes Hamlet and Laertes foils, in that this is where their differences are revealed. When faced with vengeance, Hamlet procrastinates for months on end, distracted by his grief and morality. He wants to be sure of Claudius’s guilt, and even ignores the opportunity to kill the king while he is praying, claiming it would send him to Heaven to die in such a way. Hamlet’s excuses and foot dragging is the complete opposite of Laertes’s response to his own father’s death. He immediately storms the castle with a posse of incensed commoners, and demands justice at once. He is blinded by anger and ready to kill Hamlet, claiming he would “cut his throat i' th' church” (IV.vii.123). Laertes obviously has no qualms about seeking revenge,