When Hamlet hears that Claudius was the one who killed his father, his immediate reaction was grief. This is no surprise, due to the fact that he was still mourning the death of his father, although everyone else had already gotten over it. In fact, most people thought that he was overdoing it ,and Claudius went so far as to tell him that he should get over it, and “Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves” (act one, scene two).
The way that Hamlet plans his revenge, is more intelligent than the way Laertes plans his. While Hamlet is a more intellectual person, as we can see from his quick wit and sarcasm, Laertes is more impulsive and “acts, then thinks” as we can see when he says “I am justly killed with mine own treachery” (act five, scene two). In such a situation, had the play not ended the way it did, Hamlet may have been more successful in avenging his father’s murder because of his responsibility and intellect.
Despite the fact that Hamlet procrastinates, Hamlet was smarter in the way he planned his revenge because his procrastination was due to his grief and foresight. Although Laertes trait of acting quickly can be admired and gets the job done, in a situation that involves death and vengeance, strategy and discretion are a must. From the beginning of the play, we can see that Hamlet is an intellectual thinker. Although he believes the ghost and pronounces that “it is an honest ghost” (act one, scene five) , he still takes precautions after he promises the ghost that he will take revenge.
However, Hamlet is still a little wary of the ghost and therefor decides to feign madness so that he would be able to find out if Claudius was the true killer of his father. Even while feigning madness Hamlet thinks about the whole process of the madness. Unlike Laertes, Hamlet is careful not to disclose what the ghost has told him and only imparts to Horatio and Marcellus what happened when they swear on his sword that they would never speak of what they saw from that point on.
One of the reasons why Hamlet is such a procrastinator is because he becomes caught up in the details and potential consequences. In the soliloquy of “to be or not to be” (act three, scene two) Hamlet loses the will to live and ponders whether it is worth it to exist. Due to the fact that Hamlet suffered the death of his father at a young age as well as well as many other hardships, Hamlet contemplates whether “Tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against the sea of troubles and by opposing, end them?
To die: to sleep; no more;” (act three, scene two). However, after that, Hamlet mentions the potential consequences of the unknown after death. Due to the death of his father and his mother’s hasty remarriage which Hamlet does not approve of, Hamlet is well aware of the consequences of his actions and therefore is hesitant to act rashly. When planning his revenge, Hamlet does not jump to conclusions. When the players come, Hamlet asks them to perform “The Mousetrap”-a play of a murder similar to that of Hamlet's father's.
Hamlet hopes that “The plays the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king” (act two, scene two). Indeed, the plan worked and when Claudius stormed out of the theatre, all of Hamlets suspicions were confirmed. As Hamlet so eloquently noted, “What, frightened with false fire? ”, (act three, scene two) Hamlet was now positive that Claudius was at fault for murdering his father. Another thing that slows Hamlet down in his plan of revenge is that he is a religious catholic, and he is very concerned about mortality.
Hamlet is scared that if he kills Claudius, his father’s murderer, his soul will be damned. Hamlet is also scared that if he kills Claudius while he is praying, Claudius will go to heaven and that would not please Hamlet because he said that “A villain kills my father, and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (act three, scene three). Contrary to Hamlet, Laertes followed the passion in his heart. As soon as he returned from France and heard the news, he invaded the palace, and then asked the questions- the complete opposite of Hamlet.
When Laertes hears that Hamlet killed his father, he expresses intense anger and openly announces his plan to take revenge. In his rage, Laertes yells that “Let what comes come, only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father” (act four, scene five) and makes up his mind to take revenge no matter how or where. When Hamlet heard that his father had been murdered by Claudius, he had already been grieving his father’s death for a while and although the pain was still fresh, his father’s death was old news to him.
Therefore, Hamlet was still able to think rationally and plan his revenge in a more intelligent manner. However, when Laertes heard about his father’s murder, he was so grief stricken that he could not think rationally and just followed what his heart told him- to kill Hamlet. Unlike Hamlet, Laertes has no problem “to cut his throat i' th' church! ”(Act four, scene seven). To Laertes, mortality doesn't mean alot, as he so bluntly puts it- “Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. ” (Act four, scene five) Due to his impulsive nature, Laertes tends to be unstable at times.
However, Claudius, who suspects Hamlets unusual behavior, joins forces with Laertes to devise a plan to kill Hamlet. This proves a weakness of Laertes'- being unable to carry out his plans singlehandedly. Together, they scheme to kill Hamlet and even come up with a backup plan in case the first one does not go as planned. In the end, his plan of using a poisoned sword backfires when Hamlet ends up using the poisoned sword on him. When weighing in the pros and cons of each of their personalities and flaws, Hamlet took the smarter route in avenging his father’s murder.
Although both Hamlet and Laertes die at the end of the play, the reason Hamlet kills himself is because he had nothing to live for. Ophelia, the love of his life was dead, his father was dead and Claudius had died. Since he had nothing to live for, he chose the option of death. On the other hand, Laertes had no choice in the matter because his plan backfired on him and killed him, as we see at the end. Hamlets patience paid off because he, Hamlet achieved his goal, and Laertes, the son of a fishmonger, did not.