Ophelia’s brother and Polonius’s son. A student at a university in France, Laertes is gallant, worldly, hotheaded, and obsessed with his family’s honor. In hopes of avenging Polonius and Ophelia’s deaths, Laertes conspires with Claudius to murder Hamlet, challenging Hamlet to a duel armed with a poison-tipped sword. He succeeds in stabbing Hamlet with the sword, but their weapons are switched during the fight, and Hamlet fatally stabs Laertes with the poisoned sword as well. As he dies, Laertes is remorseful over the deaths of Hamlet and Ophelia (who unknowingly drank from a cup of poisoned wine, Claudius’s backup plan should the duel fail), and calls out to Hamlet that “the king’s to blame,” implicating Claudius in their murders. Hamlet, realizing the sword is poisoned, stabs Claudius and forces him to drink the poisoned wine. Just before Laertes perishes, he cries out that Claudius has gotten the fate he deserves, and that he forgives Hamlet.
Laertes Quotes in Hamlet
The Hamlet quotes below are all either spoken by Laertes or refer to Laertes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Hamlet published in 1992.).
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes
This above all—to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Laertes Character Timeline in Hamlet
The timeline below shows where the character Laertes appears in Hamlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
...new wife Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother and the queen; Hamlet himself; Claudius’s councilor Polonius; Polonius’s children Laertes and Ophelia; and several members of court. Claudius delivers a long monologue in which he... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Act 2, Scene 1
Act 4, Scene 5
...loud noise outside, and then a messenger comes into the hall. The messenger reports that Laertes has taken up arms against Claudius—and that he has the support of the Danish people,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
...Hamlet—one for Claudius, and one for the queen. Claudius offers to read them aloud for Laertes. Hamlet’s letter to Claudius reveals that he has been “set naked on [Claudius’s] kingdom”—in other... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
...that Ophelia is the one who has died, cries out in pain. He watches as Laertes, distraught, jumps into his sister’s grave and continues loudly weeping for her. Hamlet comes forward,... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
...doors—there has been “treachery” in the hall, and they must find out who is responsible. Laertes, however, speaks up and confesses that he is the traitor. He tells Hamlet that Hamlet... (full context)