Difference Between Hamlet and Laertes

Hamlet vs Laertes

Since the story of Hamlet is very popular and a subject of interest in English literature, it can be very useful to know the difference between Hamlet and Laertes for the students of English literature. If you are a student of English literature, you must have studied Hamlet: the great tragedy by William Shakespeare. Even if you have not studied English literature, you might have at least heard of the tragedy of Hamlet. Originally named as The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, rather popular by the name Hamlet, this play was written between 1599 and 1602 and set in Denmark encircling the story of a prince named Hamlet in the Kingdom of Denmark. It is referred to as one of the most powerful tragedies in English literature and as the longest play written by William Shakespeare.The prime source of Hamletis the legend Ameith found in the 13th century chronicles and Hamlet is woven on the theme hero-as-fool. This article focuses on Prince Hamlet’s and Laertes’ characters found in the play in order to highlight the differences between Hamlet’s and Laertes.

Who is Hamlet?

Hamlet, or formally known as Prince Hamlet of the Kingdom of Denmark, is the son of the deceased King Hamlet. His mother is Queen Gertrude, who is later married to King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the usurping King of Denmark. Hamlet is the protagonist of the play who is portrayed as someone with a quick temper who acts without much detail. Throughout the play, Hamlet struggles to avenge his father’s deaths and under quick impulsion he causes a number of deaths including Laertes, King C laudius, his lover Ophelia, and his mother Queen Gertrude. Although Hamlet seeks vengeance and is an implacable character, internally he has a deep and strong love for Ophelia, who rejects Hamlet owing to some ‘wisdom’ given to her by her brother, Laertes about princes like Hamlet. After the rejection, Hamlet becomes more turbulent and thereby turns more towards seeking vengeance.


Who is Laertes?

Laertes is a character in Hamlet who is portrayed as another impulsive young man. His father Polonius, whose death is caused accidently by Hamlet, is a counselor to King Claudius and his sister Ophelia is courted by Prince Hamlet. Like Hamlet, Laertes too lost his father and he begins to suspect King Claudius to be the murderer, and then lives his life to avenge his father’s death. Laertes is sensible in understanding and directing his sister Ophelia towards doing the right thing. He makes her convinced that it is a mismatch and princes like Hamlet would not be quite a good match for someone like her, thereby Laertes is also portrayed as one who seeks his sister’s best interest.

Difference Between Hamlet and Laertes

What is the difference between Hamlet and Laertes?

• Both Hamlet and Laertesare impulsive characters, but Hamlet is more of a thinker while Laertes is more of a straightaway doer. Hamlet waits for the right time to come to seek vengeance while Laertes runs straightway with a sword to King Claudius.

• Hamlet seduces Ophelia and makes her fall in love with him out of pure infatuation while Laertes shows true love for his sister Ophelia as he truthfully seeks the best for her. This is portrayed by his advice to her to reject Hamlet.

• Hamlet publicly apologizes for everything he did to Laertes. Nevertheless, cunning Laertes accepts the apology still seeking to take revenge by killing Hamlet.

In Hamlet, both Hamlet and Laertes have been portrayed as characters with many similarities than dissimilarities. If you read between lines, explore their characters at a deeper level, you may be able to perceive some subtle differences between Hamlet and Laertes.