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The Character of Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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 subsequent ascension to the throne, a wise decision, and an attempt to remain apart and above the world, as the Greek ?superman? is seen to gain immortality by doing, though Laertes does have personal feelings in the matter, unlike the true Stoic, thus his attempt is a failure, though a noble one.

As Scene Three begins, Laertes is speaking with his sister, Ophelia, about her relationship with Hamlet, and warning her to ?Weigh what loss your honour may sustain,/ If with too credent ear you list his songs,? (1.3.29) else she lose her virtue to Prince Hamlet. This exemplifies his loyalty and love for his family, and especially his sister, though she replies to his warnings and advice with the sarcastic reply to do not ?Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,/ Whilst, like a puffed and reckless libertine,/ Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads/ And recks not his own rede.? (1.3.47) Following this, Ophelia and Laertes? father, Polonius, enters, and Laertes departs with a final warning t…

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… who have gotten off the ball are Horatio and Fortinbras. Horatio being the extreme neutrality of Stoicism, his inaction leading to his not becoming caught up in the events, since he is merely an observer, and Fortinbras is action taken to just as far of an extreme, he has no indecision or change of heart, and he is able to pass by and over all that stands in his way. Laertes tries both ways, but since he cannot decide which path to take, he exemplifies the metaphor to its fullest, only getting off the ball after it has passed over the cliff. Seeing his error and the path to success, he cannot go back, and is doomed, learning-as do all other characters who cannot stay with their path-that indecision is the true enemy.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. ca. 1600-1601. Ed. Edward Hubler. A Signet Classic. New York: Penguin Publishers,1963.

Self-absorption in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Self-absorption in Heart of Darkness

The story Heart of Darkness is a study in the benefits , and

setbacks, of self absorption. Through out the story there is a constant

emphasis on the fact that self absorption will get you what you want and

help you to survive. At the same time there is the constant moral objection.

Almost the entire book is spent showing the positive aspects of self

absorption. The life it will give you and the ability to keep that life

going as long as possible. This type of thinking, however, can catch up to

you in the end.

The lesson that self absorption is the means of self preservation is

one that is taught to the reader, and more specifically to Marlow, gradually

as the story progresses. The very first lesson in this thought process comes

very early in the story. I occurs as Marlow is going over in his mind

exactly how he came to get the opportunity to be a river steamer captain.

It appears the Company had received news that one of their captains

had been killed in a scuffle with the natives. This was my

chance, and it made me the more anxious to go…However,

through this glorious affair I got my appointment,

before I had fairly begun to hope for it.(Conrad 13)

Right away Marlow begins to think about himself and what this mans death can

bring to him. He describes the incident, and every now and then throws in a

“The poor fellow” so that he is not completely devoid of any compassion.

This is Marlow’s introduction into the way of the successful person in the

Ivory trade, or any business for that matter.

The next lesson that Marlow gets in self absorption he actually has

provided for him. As he is riding the french ship down to the belgian congo

there are several stops made to let off soldiers at various posts up and

down the shore.

We pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-

house clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness,

with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more soldiers to take care

of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in

the surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed

particularly to care. They were just flung out there, and on we

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