Foils in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Foils in Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a well known play. Shakespeare uses foils in Hamlet to further create and explain Hamlet’s character. Foils are created in a play to help the audience better understand a major character by giving the character someone to talk to and compare the major character to. [Using the definition as the thesis was not a good idea in this paper. The assignment said not in the first paragraph, i.e., the paper was to be about how foils affect the meaning of this play.]

Foils are minor characters created in a play to help the audience understand a major character better by giving the major character someone to talk to and compare them to. Ophelia can be considered a foil to Hamlet because she helps us see the different attitudes Hamlet has toward certain things. Hamlet, after finding out that his father was murdered, starts acting crazy and giving Ophelia mixed signals about his love for her. Ophelia believes Hamlet loves her but, because of her father’s wishes, constantly turns him down and denies that she feels the same way. Ophelia finally denounces denies that she loves him but Hamlet states that "I did love you once." He also stated that "You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not." "Get thee to a nunnery." These lines from the play states [SV -1] that Hamlet was pretending to be delirious and pretending to love Ophelia because of what Claudius has done to his father.

Not only does the scene, "Get thee to a nunnery," show how Hamlet feels about Ophelia, but it also shows how Hamlet feels about marriage and women. Hamlet tells Ophelia to go to the convent because she should not want to be a "breeder of sinners" and because there should be no more marriage. Hamlet does not want anymore marriage because that would mean more children and according to Hamlet the only children born to marriage are sinners.

Ophelia is also considered a foil for Hamlet because of the difference in the way each grieved for their father’s deaths. The difference between the way Hamlet and Ophelia grieved is that Ophelia’s grief was actually for her father, whereas Hamlet’s grief was for his mother.
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