In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Laertes and Hamlet both lose a father by unnatural and sudden death. The unnatural death of the father is brought on by someone close to the son. When Laertes discovers that his father is dead, he is outraged. When Hamlet learns from the ghost of his father's murder, he weeps, and promises action, though he delivers none. Both Laertes and Hamlet grieve deeply for their fathers, but Laertes acts upon this grief while Hamlet carefully plots his revenge and waits for the perfect moment to avenge King Hamlet. Laertes' unplanned action causes his death by his own sword, while Hamlet's apparent inaction finally gets him the revenge that Laertes has attempted. Though Laertes' grief at his father's death causes his
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Laertes' pursuit of Hamlet occupies all of his attention, and he does not consider any of the problems that could arise from this plan. He is unaware of the possibility that Gertrude would drink from the chalice intended for Hamlet, or that Hamlet would cut him with the poisoned rapier. Laertes' grief and anger causes Hamlet, Gertrude, and Laertes to die, while Hamlet's grief causes the death of Ophelia, Polonius, and Claudius. When Hamlet is cursing his mother, she calls out "What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, ho!" (3.4.22-3). Polonius, hiding behind a curtain, is alarmed and calls out as well. Hamlet, horrified that "a rat" has been spying, thrusts his rapier through the curtain and into Polonius (3.4.25). When Ophelia hears of her father's death, it drives her to insanity, and she falls
"in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
she chanted snatches of old lauds, / As one incapable of her own distress
/ Till her garments, heavy with their drink, / Pulled the poor wretch
/ To muddy death" (4.7.176, 178-9, 182-3, 184).
The last death attributed to Hamlet is Claudius's. Hamlet's original goal was to kill Claudius and get revenge for King Hamlet's murder, and Hamlet succeeds when he makes Claudius drink the poison that was intended for Hamlet. Laertes and Hamlet both succeeded in killing their fathers' murderers, but the price was the death of Ophelia, Polonius,