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Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Laertes

Hamlet’s Laertes

One of the less-discussed characters in the Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, is Laertes, the son of Polonius and brother to Ophelia. He witnesses the death of all of his immediate family, thus losing his “honorable” approach to living – until the very end of the drama.

Bernice W. Kliman in “A Television Interpretation of Hamlet” (1964 with Christopher Plummer) highlights the actions of Laertes at the climax of the drama:

Close-ups, of course, reveal that Gertrude offers Hamlet the poisoned wine once she has drunk, that Laertes crosses himself as he takes the fatal rapier, that he gives Hamlet a foul blow after impatient urgings from Claudius, that the soldiers restrain Claudius after Laertes’ revelation. Yet the setting allows enough space around the close-ups for Laertes to make his first admission to Osric alone and for the supernumeraries to disappear while Horatio holds the dying Hamlet, the frame widening out for Fortinbras’ stately entry. (157)

Kliman’s description contains some detail which is not within the official text since her description derives from a television version of Hamlet. Based on the stage version, Marvin Rosenberg describes Laertes in his essay, “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat”:

Laertes is a dashing, romantic figure who excites striking, spectacular moments in the play. Not much attention has been paid to him by scholar-critics and theatre observers; for all his activity in the later acts, he is not much cursed with inward struggle – while being surrounded by others fascinating for their infernos of inwardness. After Laertes’ brief, bright introduction in I,i and I,iii, he disappears from the play – and Denmark – until he returns at the head of a rebellion in IV,v [. . .]. (87)

With Rosenberg’s overview of Laertes’ situation in the play, let us begin a consideration of his interaction with other members of the cast. Laertes makes his appearance in the drama after Marcellus, Barnardo and Horatio have already seen the Ghost and have trifled with it in an effort to prompt it to communicate with them. Horatio and Marcellus exit the ramparts of Elsinore intending to enlist the aid of Hamlet, who is dejected by the “o’erhasty marriage” to Hamlet I’s wife less than two month’s after the funeral of Hamlet’s father (Gordon 128). After this scene, Laertes is one of many in attendance at a post-coronation social gathering of the court at Elsinore.

The Ghost Of Hamlet In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Throughout Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the Ghost of old Hamlet prods young Hamlet toward action and informs him of recent events which lead him to act either sporadically insane or sane, evidently, making those around him believe that he has completely gone mad. The purpose of this essay is to show through research and evidence that Shakespeare tried demonstrating to his audience that Hamlet was not insane for just any reason, but because he had recently made conversation with a ghost that happens to be his father. In fact, I believe that Hamlet was only acting insane in order to cover up his real reactions and feelings after knowing that Claudius murdered his father. However, there are many reasons and enough proof to say Hamlet lost his sanity toward the end of the play. During the Shakespearian Era, many people believed ghosts had different purposes and could have truly changed someone if they wanted to. Could Shakespeare have been influenced under these ideas or beliefs when we created Hamlet? Questions as such will arise as I explore this topic, but they will be answered as you …

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