Hamlet Essay

Submitted By idlugz
Words: 926
Pages: 4

In William Shakespeare's tragic play Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras and Hamlet find themselves in similar situations. While Hamlet waits for the perfect time to avenge his father's death by murdering Claudius, Laertes learns of his father's death and instantly seeks vengeance, and Fortinbras awaits his chance to recapture lands that were lost by his father, Old Fortinbras. The latter two go about accomplishing their tasks quite differently than Hamlet. While Hamlet acts slowly and with lots of thought, Laertes and Fortinbras seek their revenge rapidly with a sense or urgency. Although Laertes and Fortinbras are minor characters, Shakespeare works them in, in order to contrast with Hamlet. Fortinbras and, to an even greater extent, Laertes act as foils to Hamlet with their motives for revenge, execution of their revengeful plans and behavior while executing their plans.
While all three of Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet end up wanting the same thing, revenge for their fathers’ deaths, they all had different motives for seeking their revenge. Since Fortinbras is a minor character, his motives were fairly simple. His father, Old Fortinbras, was killed in a battle against Denmark. Denmark also took over Norwegian lands in that battle. Fortinbras wanted to win back those lands or other lands. Perhaps for his own pride, his father’s legacy, or most likely both. Laertes on the other hand, didn’t know a single thing about his father’s death. He was in France and simply heard of it. His motives were as simple and straightforward as possible: you murdered my father, so I must kill you. Meanwhile, young Hamlet’s motives for vengeance were more complex. Before even knowing that Claudius was his father’s murderer, he disliked him for rapidly marrying his mother, Gertrude. Then, after meeting his father’s ghost, he knew about Claudius’ dirty deed and promised the ghost to complete the task, making it his mission: “So Uncle, there you are. Now to my word.” Clearly three different motives, but all three also had different plans as well.
Although all three characters want to do the same thing, they chose three different ways to accomplish their task. First, Fortinbras wants to win back the lands his father lost. With Old Hamlet dead, he thought it was a great time to do so. Claudius knew, “…He hath not failed to pester us with message importing the surrender of those lands lost by his father…” and he sent representatives to stop him. Fortinbras was hardly devastated. His plan immediately shifted towards winning lands from the Poles, and he simply just asked Denmark for permission to pass through. Fortinbras wins the lands, and in the end, ironically, he gets all of Denmark as he becomes King. His plan was a medium between the polar opposites of Hamlet and Laertes. Laertes heard of his father’s death and returned from France. He crowded Claudius with a mob, ready to kill him, thinking Claudius was his father’s murderer. Claudius convinced him to kill Hamlet. They organized a fencing match where Laertes would kill Hamlet with a sharpened, poisoned sword. For back up, Hamlet’s drink was poisoned as well. The plan was successful, but also back fired. Hamlet was killed, but Laertes died because of his dirty trick as well. Now as for the crazy Hamlet’s plan. He didn’t really have a clear idea of how, when, where and if he would kill Claudius. He put on an antic disposition to throw everyone off. He verified that Claudius was guilty by adding lines to a play, which mimicked the murder of Old Hamlet. Claudius’ reaction was clearly proof. Hamlet missed a glorious opportunity to kill Claudius when he was