Revenge is the central theme in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, where the central character's loyalties and response to grief play a major role in the outcome of this tragedy. Fortinbras and Laertes are very important characters in the play and they are often discussed when Hamlet is analyzed or critiqued. Fortinbras and Laertes are parallel characters to Hamlet and they provide pivotal points on which to contrast and compare the actions and emotions of Hamlet at key points in the play. These characters are crucial plot of the play and to the final resolution that takes place in Hamlet. Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes are three young men who face similar circumstances. They are all three on a quest to avenge their father's deaths. The different ways that each deals with their grief and how they enact their vengeance is one of the main contrasts between the three characters. Both Fortinbras and Laertes serve as foils to the main character of Hamlet.
The character of Laretes is a mirror to Hamlet. Perhaps Shakespeare made them similar to provide a greater base for comparison when they avenge their respective father's deaths. Hamlet and Laertes both love Ophelia. Hamlet wants Ophelia to be his wife and Laertes loves Ophelia as a sister. Hamlet is a student at Wittenberg, and Laertes is a student at France. Both are admired as excellent swordsman. Hamlet and Laretes both loved and respected their fathers, and they both display deceit while plotting to avenge their father's deaths.
Hamlet responds to grief in a much different way than Laertes. In this trait their characters are starkly contrasted. When Laertes learns of his fathers death his response is immediate. He displays his anger quite publicly, leading a public riot that occurs outside the Castle Elsinore in response to Polonius" death and quick burial which served as a catalyst. He is suspicious, which is evident from his speech to Claudius.