Laertes' slip in anger??greenspun.com : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread
In Act 4 scene 5, Laertes attack on Claudius after returning from France with the news of his father's death, does Laertes slip up about his mother? Gertrude says to Laertes "Calmly, good Laertes," and Laertes' quick reply is "That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard, Cries cuckhold to my father, brands the harlot even here between the chaste unsmirched brows of my true mother' (IV.V.115-120). Further on in Hamlet's apology to Laertes and plead for pardon he states "I have shot my arrow o'er the house and hurt my brother' (V.II.231-232).
Are these two statements slip ups on both the speakers part about Laertes being Gertrude and Polonius' son? I know that Shakespeare often puts in one line statements that give a large amount of insight into his plays, like Iago statements about Othello sleeping with his own wife. Perhaps this is another place in which he has used such slip ups. Or perhaps, I am seeing what is not there, like my english teacher continually tells me so *grin*.
-- Rachel Hatton (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 04, 2003
All Laertes is saying is that he can't possibly be calm about the death of Polonius - that to be so would mean that he could not be Polonius' son. That would mean that his mother had had him with someone not her husband, so that Polonius would be a cuckold and his mother would be a harlot. But since he IS Polonius' son, he must be, as he is, not calm, outraged, very upset by Polonius' death.
Hamlet's use of 'brother' is his way of emphasizing the fraternal bond he feels with Laertes (perhaps in part because of his link with Ophelia?, which makes him not wish to hurt Laertes in any way; but he isn't meaning it literally.
-- catherine england (email@example.com), November 14, 2003.