Hamlet Character Perspective


I will do ’t.

And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.

I bought an unction of a mountebank,

So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,

Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,

Collected from all simples that have virtue

Under the moon, can save the thing from death

That is but scratched withal. I’ll touch my point

With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly

It may be death.”

– Laertes (Act 4, Scene 7)


Opening Paragraph

Laertes. The son of Polonius and brother to Ophelia, this character foil for Hamlet finds himself involved in his own quest for the restoration of his honor and certainty. Though the play’s namesake usually “takes center stage”, if you will, the character of Laertes is often neglected and simply acknowledged, despite having just as much motivation, if not more, than Hamlet. Despite having similar forces driving the restoration of honor and certainty, Laertes possesses one quality that makes his character much more fitting: we see love in his family, and we see it destroyed by none other than the titular Hamlet. This is important, as we can better understand the before and after, as well as the cause and effect of Laertes throughout his appearances in the play. To restore his honor after having his father so mercilessly murdered, he will avenge Polonius. Uncertainty is found in Hamlet’s “affection” for Ophelia, thus Laertes warns her before his departure. With Hamlet’s death, he can restore the certainty that no others would befall the same fate as Ophelia and Polonius by the hands of the mad Prince of Denmark. We also see this in his revealing of Claudius’s attempt to poison Hamlet, where in his dying breaths he helps the very man he wanted to murder. For when an individual is the sole cause for another’s loss of honour and certainty, the victim will seek to restore said qualities and ultimately reinstate themselves through the death of the perpetrator. However, in the presence of defeat, one who has regained their honor and certainty may choose to assist those in the pursuit of their own lost qualities.


Creative Piece #1

This image depicts the nature of Laertes: fiery and full of energy when ignited. However, flames have a habit, when given enough fuel to burn, of burning brightly for a moment, but then sizzling out, as the flame has consumed itself. In the play, Laertes’ story arc is very similar to this, as when he is fueled by the loss of honor and certainty, he decides to fight Hamlet in a duel. Unfortunately, this duel is what is his undoing, and Laertes fiery nature inadvertantly kills him. In the end, the flame is restored to a calmer and more natural state; similarly, Laertes, upon his death, returns to a more honorable and certain individual. In the image, the flame and the candle are the only things visible. This is representative of how blinding the desire to restore his honor and certainty was for Laertes, as his better judgement was haphazardly ignored, leading to his own demise. After the flame in the image burns out, all that would remain would be darkness. With Laertes death, as well as the extinguishing of all other characters, the play concludes, and all the audience is left with is the feeling of the unknown, similar to darkness.


Creative Piece #2

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.” – Nancy Levin

The  quote (left) demonstrates the interplay between honor and certainty of an individual. The quote implies that the past and the future are both irrelevant in relation to honor, and that only the present is important. In one’s life, the only time that one may have certainty is in the present, as the future is a mystery and the past is irreversible. The concept of honor in the quote perhaps alludes to how fragile the quality is against such a fleeting concept like time. This can be related to the ways in which Laertes tries to restore honor and certainty in the play. Laertes is an impulsive go-getter, acting and thinking in the present and ongoing events. By losing his honor with the death of his father and sister, he also loses his certainty by focusing on now past events. By shifting his focus back to the current issue of Hamlet, and plotting his death, Laertes’ certainty has the potential to return. In fact, it is not until his own demise that Laertes finds said certainty; one’s death only takes place in the present for them. The honor he lost is also restored as he acts in the moment, where he not only kills Hamlet, but also redeems himself by telling of the King’s plot to poison him.


Transition Paragraph

From the previous two creative pieces shown, it is evident that Laertes did succeed before his death in restoring the honor and certainty he believed he lost. However, that’s not to say this aspiration was not all beneficial, as it did lead to the untimely demise of the character. From his standpoint, it could be said that it was plain circumstance that had led to his death; however, it is evident that had Laertes not channeled his motivation for redemption into a lust for revenge, he may have survived the story. His redemption of honor and certainty did not entirely see fruition in the original manner he sought out to pursue. He may have killed Hamlet, thus avenging his father, sister, and his honor. He may have thus restored the certainty that no harm shall befall those in Hamlet’s wake and that his deceased family could rest easy. However, seeing as how these actions were misconstrued with vengeance, it puts into question if this really retained what he lost. Subjectively, to him, as an individual with his own personal perception, this may be true, but the act where he sets aside his vengeance and helps Hamlet by exposing Claudius plays a major role in the restoration of honor and certainty. By acting based acceptance, and not just vengeance, one may better restore honor and certainty into their own life.


Personal Connection Paragraph

I’ll admit that honor and certainty definitely do not present themselves in my life the same heroic and dramatic way they appear in the story of Hamlet. However, that’s not to say I have not encountered circumstances where the restoration of these two qualities has been at the forefront of my percieved responsibilities. Like Laertes, it is not until I have experienced a loss or degradation of my own self worth, and thus my own honor, that I would find it necessary to redeem myself. Furthermore, in the loss of my honor, I also lose certainty in the outcome of my own future, leading to emotional dismay and stress.


As a high school student, I am more than well acquainted with the fact that individuals seek to belittle and dishonor those they believe have wronged them. Growing up in an age and environment where anonymity through technology is ever-present, this concept is always prevalent in my life. Unfortunately, I have found myself on both sides, where I have dishonored and been dishonored myself. Much like Laertes, it is not until I have received a loss in honor and certainty, that I will seek restoration. Often times, this restoration is obtained through retribution; thus is human nature. Laertes sought to redeem what he had lost through violence directed towards Hamlet, as the Prince had wronged him with the murders of his family. I had sought the same thing due to the slandering of my name, and thus a loss in the honor others saw in me, as well as my own certainty for what was to come in my own future. The manner in which I sought restoration would have ended in the same way as Laertes and Hamlet: both members ultimately destroying themselves. Thus, despite what I had lost, I chose not to pursue retribution, and instead, found new qualities in myself that brought about a new, restored sense of honor.


I have also faced a loss of honor and certainty after my family became less affluent, and money become less expendable. In society, wealth determines status, as individuals value materialism over all else; thus, classes and status as we know it today came about. I saw it as not only a loss of honor, but a loss of certainty, as I did not know if my materialists desires could be sustained. Thus, I took it upon myself to pursue an occupation. Laertes occupied himself with the idea that harm towards those who have wronged would redeem himself, however, this ended with his own death. In order for my redemption, I had to work harder and push myself, not others, in order to achieve my desire of restoration.


Insight Paragraph

In Hamlet, the protagonist and his character foil, Laertes, both struggle with the adversity of restoring their lost honor and certainty. It is through their acts of revenge that they seek to accomplish said restoration; however, there is irony in their goals. Laertes ends up killing Hamlet, yet Hamlet also kills Laertes. Shakespeare is trying to convey not only the futility of revenge-fueled redemption, but also how the manner in which one restores their honor and certainty is subjective to each individual, allowing for conflict of interest. In the former claim, Laertes demonstrates said futility as he makes Hamlet the villain in his eyes. In his blind quest for restoration through revenge, he faces mortal consequences as his enemy is driven by the same goal. Through revenge, an individual runs the risk of harming either themselves or those who are not involved. Laertes, after agreeing to the use of poison in a duel, falls on his own blade, and ultimately kills himself, blinded by the consequences of using such a volatile toxin until his final moments. It is important to note, however, that Laertes does, in a way, restore his honor and certainty, as he tells Hamlet of Claudius’s poisonous plot thus restoring honor, and in his death his certainty of never having to succumb to Hamlet’s actions is also restored. The latter statement about conflicting ways in which individuals seek this restoration of honor and certainty holds true as we see that Laertes is driven by his quest during the dual, while Hamlet is very much the same. Both of these characters are caught in a fatal conflict that would indeed end in one of their lives being lost; however, because of their parallel aspirations, both characters tragically die, succeeding in what they had set out to accomplish, but not living long enough to see the complete consequences of their actions.



Honor and certainty play a significant role in defining and justifying the actions of an individual, especially when these two qualities have been lost. In a situation where a specific individual is deemed responsible for this loss, one with seek out to enact vengeance upon the perpetrator. This holds true in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as through the character of Laertes, the audience is given the perspective of an individual who loses his honor and certainty, and resorts to violence to reclaim it. Despite it costing his life, this venture did redeem Laertes in his eyes. In his blindness for revenge, he did not see the possible consequences for his actions, and jeopardized his whole ideal for restoration. As a society, we are cultivated to find a common enemy to place our losses on. In doing so, we may succeed in redemption of our honor and certainty, but we lose the very binding force of our humanity in the process. When we learn to accept and forgive, an individual may not only find themselves more honorable, but also more certain of the path they must walk in life to achieve their desires.

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4 thoughts on “Hamlet Character Perspective

  1. Dear Lucas,

    Your blog was really diddly darn great! I, inspired by Judy, will start with the “critics” as I really enjoyed the blog. Besides the fact that you used honor instead of honour -_-|| there were very few things I would change. I’d suggest a quick GUMP fix in this bit, “By acting based [on] acceptance” and incorporating more insight and a tad less retell.

    Now that that’s over, I can rave about you! I greatly enjoyed that you did your blog on Laertes – the most under appreciated plot thickener in the play! My favourite part of your blog was your personal as it was really cool and interesting getting to learn about who you are. Further, the way you explained your creatives made each of them feel very intentional and specifically chosen for good ol’ Laertes. I also loved the last line of your blog as it was punchy and left your audience (me) thinking. It incorporated the prompt – good one – but also aspects of the human condition that are consistently present (desire) when honour and certainty may feel distant.

    Great work, Lucas! I enjoyed reading your blog.

    Much Love,

  2. Dear Lucas,

    Your piece, though seemingly shorter in length than those of many of our classmates, is, in my humble opinion, a prime example of quality over quantity and even in just a few words, you were able to convey your ideas clearly and effectively. I really enjoyed reading your perspective assignment on Laertes, as it made me realize how noble Laertes truly was and it allowed me to appreciate his character in a way I never did before.

    In particular, I enjoyed the line “Despite having similar forces driving the restoration of honor and certainty, Laertes possesses one quality that makes his character much more fitting: we see love in his family…” as it allowed me to pause and think about how Laertes, as a son and a brother, really did care for his family. This love is truly what motivates him to act in the manner that he did, a love that, while prompting Laertes to act violently, is nonetheless noble and inspiring. In a way, this sentence endeared me to him, and for that, I thank you. I also like how you pointed out the ironies in the deaths of Hamlet and Laertes, who eventually kill each other. It goes to show that despite mankind’s best efforts, taking matters into one’s own hands through revenge can lead to drastic consequences for both parties, especially as they jeopardize the very honour they are working to restore. The way you ended your piece also thrilled me, as you left the reader with something to think about. Perhaps, redemption in the face of dishonour and uncertainty can only come about by doing what humans find the hardest to do, namely, through acceptance and forgiveness. Only when we do that will any individual find the honour and certainty that is so lacking in our world today.

    In regards to improvement, there was nothing I could find that was inherently flawed in your piece, aside from a few minor spelling mistakes. There was the word “inadvertantly” in your first creative piece explanation, as well as (forgive me my pickiness) the word “honor” throughout the post (though it is less-commonly used in Canadian English, if “honor” is what you prefer, then, please pay no attention to me 🙂 ). Aside from that however, your piece makes for quite an enlightening read!

    All in all, I thought that your piece was brilliantly written. Though frequently “left in the shadows”, so to speak, Laertes now holds a new significance for me. In him, I see an individual torn by familial loyalty and the desire to restore honour. While he arguably uses dishonourable means to reach an honourable objective, Laertes is a good example of how it is never too late (unless dead) to restore his desired qualities, as it is with his dying breaths that he finds the strength to admit to his faults and help Hamlet pursue his own lost honour. To me, helping one’s adversary realize his own potential is a brave and noble act, perhaps making Laertes even worthier of center-stage than Hamlet ever was. Your post opened my eyes to Laertes’ potential, and I now view the play in an entirely different way due to being more aware of Laertes’ perspective. Great job, buddy!

    Ever yours,

    1. To both you and Ibukun, I humbly apologize for my use of “honor.” I am disgrace to my own people! I’m going to make a conscious effort ot never use that evil spelling method again!
      All in all, thank you both for taking the time to read my piece. Laertes wasn’t my original choice, but upon inspecting his character, I find him just as worthy, if not more, than Hamlet. I”m glad that I have been able to convey this to you both, and even brought forth some insight.
      Thanks for kind words and improvements!

  3. Lucas,

    I find myself having a hard time to connect with many Shakespeare characters. It takes a blog as insightful of yours to help me realize what I had not noticed before, and to understand different parts of a character. When I think about the story of Hamlet, Laertes is not one that comes to mind instantly, instead pushed behind the more “important” and prominent characters. Now that I had the pleasure to experience your piece here, I know that his importance is one I will not forget. Not to mention, it also pushes me to want to analyze Laertes myself on my own free time, which is a big thing.

    Much like Ibukun, my favourite part was your personal and the conclusion paragraph. Beginning with the personal, I love your connection of the actions of others on technology and Laertes’ actions. This is something all high school students have experienced themselves or to the people we know. By making this comparison your readers (which will be majorly students) can make connections with Laertes, helping us realize how important his character is. Other than this, I also loved all parts of this incredibly well written paragraph. It definitely left me contemplating.

    In terms of the conclusion, it tied everything together and delivered one final sentence that is sure to stick in our minds. I had to take a moment before I began to comment because I loved it so much. I can’t say anything else because I can’t even put my feelings into words. Amazing!

    A grow I can give would be to look with a keen eye for gumps and anything that can be taken away to help with the overall flow of the piece. I hate even giving this grow, however, because for me it didn’t take away from the impact of this piece but might for others.

    Thank you so much for writing this blog!!


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