Hamlet - Foils

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In William Shakespeare's Hamlet various foils are used to make the play more intricate and complex. These foils involve numerous characters that help develop different relationships and conflicts. They can also be used to help develop or understand a major character. The foil must have some similarities with the main character in order to form a connection with him. A foil must also be different in order to show or distinguish something about the main character. Laertes and Fortinbras are examples of foils in this play because they both mirror Hamlet's character but differ with such significance that it makes them seem like complete opposites.

Throughout the play it becomes quite evident that Laertes is Hamlet's foil. He mirrors Hamlet but behaves in the exact opposite manner. Where Hamlet is more verbal and conscience about his actions, Laertes is physical and very blunt in his decision making. "How came he dead?...Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged/Most thoroughly for my father's death." [Act IV, Sc V, Lines 141-147] reveals that unlike Hamlet, Laertes is very determined to quickly seek out his father's killer and to have his revenge without regards to the consequences. As soon as Laertes learns of his father's death he is furious with anger and immediately demands to know who it was that committed this crime. He doesn't waste time with soliloquies or take into account his conscience but is driven solely on his emotions and the task of avenging his father. "To cut his throat i'th' church" [Act IV, Scene VII, Line 139] proves Laertes' physical characteristic that Hamlet lacks. When Laertes is questioned by Claudius about the extent he will go to in achieving his revenge it's ironic that his remark is exactly what Hamlet could not follow through with. His brutality again shows his determination to accomplish his task by whatever means. It is clear that Laertes' love for Ophelia and responsibility to Polonius drive him to passionate action, while...
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