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A comparison of the characters hamlet and laertes in popular american literary work

English Character Foils in Hamlet In the play Hamlet, we see a man who is driven to revenge after the murder of his father.

Foils in Hamlet

However this man, the titular character of the play, Hamlet, is indecisive and goes through a variety of problems in his quest for revenge. He is supported or schemed against by a variety of characters, many of who act as a character foil to Hamlet.

  • The play basically dramatizes the vengeance that Prince Hamlet instills on Claudius who was his uncle for the reason that he murdered King Hamlet;
  • That is what Claudius did;
  • In contrast, we see Hamlet consider suicide himself in Act 3 Scene 1 but not go through with it, instead working towards his goal of revenge;
  • Hamlet's reflex action on hearing a hidden voice in his mother's room, while in a highly emotional mood, results in him killing Polonius almost accidentally;
  • It is not that he considers revenge wrong, or that he is happy about Claudius's behaviour.

A foil is used as a parallel and contrasts the main character, letting us better see his various traits, reasoning behind decisions or important differences. In Hamlet, his prominent character trait of indecisiveness and other traits are revealed and better seen when compared and contrasted to the rest of the cast. One of these foils is the character of Laertes.

Laertes and Hamlet both share a common goal, revenge for the murder of their father.

Hamlet and His Foils: Fortinbras and Laertes

However, the way they go about this is different. A4, S5 150 But, Laertes is very shallow and Hamlet is a genius in comparison. However, we do see that in anger both Laertes and Hamlet can be very rash and impulsive and bring problems upon themselves. Vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! Instead, only in revenge and death do we see her as a character foil. One of the most debated topics surrounded Hamlet is whether or not Hamlet truly goes mad by the end of the play, or if it is only an illusion concocted by him.

Compare and contrast Hamlet vs. Laertes Essay

Her death is debated as being a suicide, and only someone who was weak and mad would turn to that solution. In contrast, we see Hamlet consider suicide himself in Act 3 Scene 1 but not go through with it, instead working towards his goal of revenge.

The characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also act as foil to Hamlet.

  1. How can he kill the king, when he is always surrounded by guards, yet if he kills him when he is alone at prayer, won't that send him directly to the pleasures of Heaven? Prince Hamlet therefore selects Horatio to become simply the sole person he can depend on.
  2. He wants to avenge his father. There is no soul-searching, no worrying about an afterlife and no concerns about conscience.
  3. He appears to agree to the world just the way it is dispensed to him. His father has been killed by Hamlet, so Hamlet must die at his hands.

They are always seen together, acting together and working together. This is a stark contrast to Hamlet, and how he acts alone.

Hamlet is frequently by himself with the play and does much of what he does alone, without any help. They are also simpler than Hamlet and of a lower class and have a less educated manner of speaking. When talking to Hamlet we see the contrast and see the intelligence of Hamlet. Horatio is sensible, level-headed and reasonable more often than not. When Horatio sees the Ghost he initially doubts its existence but when does belief it is truly there he logically goes to inform Hamlet immediately.

Horatio is a stalwart friend and is consistently a reliable source of information and warnings.

  1. He thus appears to be brave through his determination to kill anyone who might have been associated with the death of his father.
  2. A foil is used as a parallel and contrasts the main character, letting us better see his various traits, reasoning behind decisions or important differences. When Horatio sees the Ghost he initially doubts its existence but when does belief it is truly there he logically goes to inform Hamlet immediately.
  3. He has no enough proof but instantaneously considers that the king murdered his father. He thus appears to be brave through his determination to kill anyone who might have been associated with the death of his father.
  4. He is a soldier prince, with little real power, since his uncle controls him and his country.

He cares for Hamlet and when Hamlet is about to die, he goes to drink from the poisoned cup but Hamlet stops him, telling he must tell the story of what transpired here. The final character foil to Hamlet is Fortinbras. However, they go about this in a different manner despite their common goals. The contrast lies in their motives; Hamlet wishes to kill Claudius for personal revenge while Fortinbras works in the name of Norway and of honour.

This difference shows their inaction and action, while Hamlet is doing this for personal reasons; he is bound by personal morals and hesitates to kill Claudius, like the instance of when Claudius is praying in the chapel, because he believes killing him then would send him to heaven.

While Hamlet has to scheme and plan against Claudius secretly and tread carefully, Fortinbras is free to march his armies and plan openly. Hamlet struggles with his anger and has difficulties killing those are guilty; he becomes jealous of Fortinbras and his ability to lead and channel his anger in retaking the land he lost and seeing no problem in killing those who are innocent.

Comparing Harry Potter to Hamlet

In conclusion, the tragic flaw of Hamlet, his indecisiveness is clearly seen when we look at character foils. It is the similarities and differences between Hamlet and the other minor characters that further our understanding of him. Although Hamlet is the main character of the play, it is through the minor characters that we can truly see who Hamlet is and the reasoning behind his decisions.

Character Foils in Hamlet