Distinguishing Hamlet & Laertes

Hamlet vs Laertes

The story of Hamlet is very popular and a subject of interest in English literature, making it helpful to know the difference between Hamlet and Laertes for students of English literature. Hamlet, the great tragedy by William Shakespeare, was written between 1599 and 1602 and is set in Denmark, focusing on the story of a prince named Hamlet in the Kingdom of Denmark. This article examines the characters of Prince Hamlet and Laertes in order to highlight their differences.

Who is Hamlet?

Hamlet, also known as Prince Hamlet of the Kingdom of Denmark, is the son of the late King Hamlet. His mother is Queen Gertrude, who later marries King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the usurping King of Denmark. Hamlet is the protagonist of the play, portrayed as someone with a quick temper who acts impulsively. Throughout the play, Hamlet struggles to avenge his father’s death, causing several deaths, including Laertes, King Claudius, his lover Ophelia, and his mother Queen Gertrude. Although Hamlet seeks revenge and is unyielding, he has a deep and strong love for Ophelia, who rejects him due to her brother, Laertes’, advice. After the rejection, Hamlet becomes more turbulent and focuses on seeking vengeance.

Who is Laertes?

Laertes is a character in Hamlet, portrayed as another impulsive young man. His father, Polonius, is a counselor to King Claudius, and his sister Ophelia is courted by Prince Hamlet. Like Hamlet, Laertes loses his father and begins to suspect King Claudius of being the murderer, living his life to avenge his father’s death. Laertes is sensible in guiding his sister Ophelia towards making the right decisions. He convinces her that it is a mismatch and that princes like Hamlet would not be a good match for someone like her, showing that Laertes seeks his sister’s best interest.

What is the difference between Hamlet and Laertes?

• Both Hamlet and Laertes are impulsive characters, but Hamlet is more of a thinker, while Laertes is more of a doer. Hamlet waits for the right time to seek vengeance, while Laertes runs straight to King Claudius with a sword.
• Hamlet seduces Ophelia and makes her fall in love with him out of pure infatuation, while Laertes shows genuine love for his sister Ophelia, seeking the best for her. This is shown through his advice to her to reject Hamlet.
• Hamlet publicly apologizes for everything he did to Laertes. However, cunning Laertes accepts the apology while still seeking to take revenge by killing Hamlet.

Key Takeaways

  • Hamlet and Laertes are both impulsive characters, but Hamlet is more contemplative while Laertes is more action-oriented.
  • Laertes shows genuine love and concern for his sister Ophelia, while Hamlet’s love for her is more infatuated.
  • Despite Hamlet’s public apology to Laertes, Laertes remains focused on exacting revenge on Hamlet.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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