Here is the answer and explanation to the question In act 4, how is Laertes’s caution different from Hamlet’s?
In act 4, how is Laertes’s caution different from Hamlet’s?
Both Claudius and Laertes want to kill Hamlet but they both go about it in different ways. Claudius wants to kill Hamlet by hiring another person, while Laertes wants to take matters into his own hands.
Both characters wish to get revenge for the deaths of their fathers but have dramatically different attitudes towards seeking revenge. Hamlet is portrayed as hesitant and struggles to morally justify his actions out of fear that his soul will be damned. When Claudius asks Laertes how far he is willing to go to avenge his father’s death, Laertes says he is unconcerned with what will happen to him in this life or the next. Unlike Hamlet, who is concerned about his soul and the afterlife, Laertes says he is willing “To cut his [Hamlet] throat i’ th’ church” (Shakespeare, 4.7.123). In act 4, scene 7, Claudius comes up with a plan for Laertes to kill Hamlet during a fencing match. After Claudius suggests that Laertes use a sharpened foil during the duel, Laertes mentions that he will poison the tip of his sword to make sure he will kill Prince Hamlet. Overall, Laertes takes precautions to avenge his father’s death by poisoning his sword and colluding with Claudius while Hamlet remains cautious about his soul and the afterlife. As Hamlet’s foil, Laertes is strictly concerned with getting revenge and does not have second thoughts about possibly going to hell. He is only cautious about making sure Hamlet suffers and dies.
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