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Laertes is a minor character who plays a major role in William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet.’ He’s a young man who feels responsible for protecting his family’s name. Learn more about Laertes’ character and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Laertes’ Temper

Many young men feel responsible for protecting their family, but sometimes they might do so in irresponsible ways. It is difficult to act in a rational and responsible way if you are hot-tempered and impulsive. Laertes, a character in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is a young man who wants to protect his sister from heartache and avenge the death of his father, Polonius.

Laertes is impulsive and irrational in his quest to avenge his father’s death, which ultimately leads to his own demise.

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Character Analysis and Traits

Laertes

Laertes is the son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s popular play Hamlet. Laertes spends most of his time away at college but is first introduced in the play when he goes to Denmark for King Claudius’s coronation. Before returning to school, he warns his sister Ophelia about her relationship with prince Hamlet. Laertes does not believe Hamlet will love Ophelia and warns her to protect her virtue.

Laertes is not a part of most of the play in Hamlet but returns to Denmark after the death of his father Polonius. Laertes is a fierce, compulsive person who acts without thinking. He is also brave and ready to kill anyone who might have been a part of his father’s death. Laertes is not overtly emotional about the death of his father but is eager to seek revenge. When he returns from school in France, he returns with a group of followers.King Claudius convinces Laertes that Hamlet is responsible for his father’s death. Claudius manipulates Laertes and convinces him to have a duel with Hamlet.

Claudius decides to use Laertes’ help in killing Hamlet because Laertes is violent and seeks revenge for the death of his father. Laertes is fighting for his family’s name and pride by avenging his father’s death.Shortly after the burial of his sister, Laertes duels with Hamlet.

After Laertes is wounded by Hamlet, he informs Hamlet of Claudius’ plot to kill him and asks Hamlet for his forgiveness. He also forgives Hamlet for his role in Polonius’ death. In the end, Laertes dies trying to avenge his father’s death and protect his family’s name.

Lesson Summary

Laertes is a minor character who plays a major role in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Laertes is a young man who wants to protect his family, including his sister and father. After the death of his father, he immediately returns home to seek revenge for his father’s death. He does not hesitate to ask questions to find the person responsible for his father’s death. He quickly develops a plan, planted in his ear by Claudius, to kill Hamlet – the person he was led to believe was responsible for the death of his father. In battle with Hamlet, Laertes is mortally wounded.

Before his death, he apologizes to Hamlet and warns him of his uncle’s plan to kill him.

Learning Outcomes

After you have finished with this lesson, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe Laertes’ personality traits in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • Summarize the actions taken by Laertes in the play

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