Foils in Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 2 (779 words) Published: March 20, 2005
Night and Day
Many authors use foils to better illustrate the nature of the character. Foils are characters who compliment yet contrast the main character. With the use of foils the reader can get a better understanding of the main character through the dialogue of the foils. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, we find Prince Hamlet foiled by many characters. Each foil revealing something different about Hamlet. One such foil in this play is undoubtedly Laertes, the son of Polonius. There are a few ways that Laertes mirrors Hamlets character, the revenge they both seek , the anger they both have, and they both mourn Ophelia's death. Just as a foil can mirror a character, it can contrast it. Laertes seeks instant almost thoughtless revenge whereas Hamlet is a bit more cautious and needs further evidence. Both Hamlet and Laertes have a different relationship with Claudius, one is deceived by him and the other sees right through his deception. Both return to Denmark after the passing of King Hamlet, which is the first indication that Laertes will act as a major foil to Hamlet. The tie they share with Claudius is a perfect example of the contrasting ways of Hamlet and Laertes. Claudius is in one way or another responsible for every death in this play. With the death of King Hamlet and the accidental murder of Polonius, we find both Hamlet and Laertes seeking revenge. Hamlet is told by the Ghost that Claudius is responsible for King Hamlets death. Almost as if it were his noble duty, he plots to avenge his fathers death by murdering Claudius. Once word gets to Laertes that Hamlet killed Polonius, he also wants to avenge his Fathers death. Here is where the similarity ends, both want to accomplish the same goal but the way they approach and react after their fathers death are very antithetical to each other. The actions taken by both men concerning the avenging of their fathers death are opposite to one another. Hamlet is the more cautious of the two and...
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