The Foils of Hamlet


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The Foils of Hamlet

Hamlet is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear.... We should have to understand things which Shakespeare did not understand himself."

T.S. Eliot
(Hamlet and His Problems)

In the play Hamlet [Titles] by William Shakespeare the cast of main characters use the support given to them by the foils to enhance the play. A foil is a minor character who by simulations [?] and differences reveals character, and who, as an element of plot, is there for the more important character to talk to (vevra [sic] ). Such an example is Laertes is a foil to Hamlet. [SS -1] [Is the last sentence in this paragraph the thesis?]

Before the events of the play Ophelia[,] the daughter of Polonius and sister of Laertes, tells us that Hamlet was a model courtier, soldier, and scholar, ["?]The glass of fashion and the mould of form, Th’ observed of all observers."( pg 676) [Citation] With the death of his farther [sic] and the hasty remarriage of his mother to mother [sic & sloppy] to his uncle, throws Hamlet into a frustrated state were [where-H50] he lashes out at evil he sees and then relapse into a suicidal misery. [SS] It is in the [this?] state of mind that he meets the ghosts [more than one?] of his father. When he meets the ghost he isn’t afraid of the ghost but instead wants to confront the ghost face to face. It is at this point in the play were [that] Hamlet finds out that his uncle murdered his father[.] [How does this paragraph relate to foils?]

A foil to Hamlet is Laertes. Laertes who likes Hamlet [a sloppy error which sends the reader into wondering about homosexuality in the play] has returned to Elsinor because of King Hamlet’s death. Laertes is a young man whose good instincts have been somewhat unclear by the concern of his superficial [??????], which he has learned from his father, Polonius. Such is the case when Hamlet taunts him for his poor performance, at the fencing match. The taunting hurts Laetes['] pride and this shows how insecure he actually is. Like his father[,] Laertes apparently preaches a morality he does not practice and fully believes in a double standard of behavior for the sexes.

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[Examples?]

More foils in the play are Rosecrantz and Guildstern. Rosencrantz and Guildenstein are not conscious criminals, since they unaware of the criminal designs of the King they obey without any scrutiny into the King’s purpose. If[,] as model courtiers[,] they feel like they have nothing on their consciences, their lack of individual integrity and total dependence upon the King doom them to the fate of the King to whom they are thus "mortised and adjoined." (pg 689) [Citation]

As model courtiers, they obey the King’s orders without presuming to examine their nature. When this involves them in carrying Claudius’ orders for the execution of Hamlet, they become criminal accomplices of a criminal King and are to be punishment, which Hamlet deals out of [to?] them. [First, why is this presented as a separate paragraph rather than being combined with the preceding one? Second, doesn't it raise, rather than answer, questions about their guilt? And third, what does it have to do with the thesis -- Laertes as a foil?]

The gravediggers['] comments about death provides some much-needed comic relief just before the final scene of multiple deaths. [SV Agr] The clowns talk about the funeral rites of the lady for whom they are preparing a grave. The clowns ask one another if the burial is for a Christian lady. You get the feeling that the clowns resent the treatment the body is getting [RO] they express this by saying " And the more pity that great folk should have count’ nance in this world to drown or hang themselves more than their even-Christen. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentle but gard’ners, ditchers, and grave makers. They hold up Adam’s profession." (pg 716) A little bit later in the scene Hamlet and Horatio enter the graveyard. To find the one gravedigger singer [sic] a song while digging the grave, which makes Hamlet very upset. [Frag] Hereto [sic] calms Hamlet down by basically telling him that the gravediggers are uneducated individuals and aren’t worth the grief they are giving to Hamlet. What is important to get from this scene is that this contrasts Hamlet with Laertes, who always stands upon "ceremony." (pg 721) [Is this paragraph supposed to be about the gravediggers as foils, Horatio as a foil, or Laertes as a foil?]

The epic battle between the foil and the main charter [sic] develops in act 5: scene 2. This is the final scene of the play at his point of time Hamlet had not earlier been convinced of the rightness of killing a king. [RO - 1] By waiting until this time, however[,] and forcing Claudius to show his hand. [Frag - 1] By this time in the play you realize that the play has to come to an end soon. [Act V usually does mean that.] Shakespeare ends the play by killing off the entire cast. [This is simply not true.] In doing so he leaves no questions not answered about what could have happened.


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