Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:

I like this framing of forgiveness as an exchange. Usually, of course, we like to beat the drum of forgiveness being a thing one does for one’s self. The common wisdom is that it doesn’t matter if I get anything in return from the person who wronged me – the benefit will be for myself in forgiving them.

But of course it will feel better if it is an equal exchange. I can forgive you this if you forgive me that.

And here, we have an interesting exchange where Laertes is offering forgiveness for two bodies to Hamlet’s one.

Does Laertes get what he’s asking for here? He doesn’t get it in words. Hamlet doesn’t apologize, ask for Laertes’ forgiveness or respond to Laertes at all until it is too late and Laertes is dead. It’s possible the exchange is understood by a physical gesture or contact – but there are no words for it.

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