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|GR: I may as well admit it
Written by Mary Anne
(5/19/2003 9:27 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Laertes: Manly Man, penned by Cheryl
I think we get the measure of him early on, when he's getting ready to go back to France and warns Ophelia away from Hamlet. As soon as she promises to consider his advice and teases him about being sure to follow it himself, he brushes her off with "Oh, fear me not." He strikes me as being like his father: in love with the sound of his own voice.
] When he returns from France, he has incited a mob who is willing to stage a coup and make him king, showing him to be a leader of men, and charismatic one at that.
Yes, but in no time at all, smooth-talking Claudius settles him down. Laertes' hot-headedness may appeal to a mob looking for any excuse for violence, but when it comes to Machiavellian manoeuverings, he's putty in Claudius' very capable hands.
]And he just happens to know how to procure an unction of poison from a montebank!
Yes, and he's an expert swordsman, so if he's seeking revenge on Hamlet for the death of Polonius, why need he depend on more than that? Ahhh, yes, because he's being manipulated by Claudius, who has already chosen poison as his favourite weapon.
] So, is Laertes your basic Renaissance Man? ;-)
Oddly enough, Hamlet's estimate of him is "That is Laertes, a very noble youth." I agree with A.C. Bradley that Laertes is very far from being this at all. For me, he shows best at the end: "Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet . . ." A scene that brings tears to my eyes every time. As was noted of another character in Shakespeare, "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it."
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