Hamlet Foils

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Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, incorporates two key foils of Laertes and Fortinbras to Hamlet. These three characters share the same goal of avenging their father’s murders but act in different ways. The use of foils within Hamlet is used to develop the major differences within the characters and their actions. Fortinbras’ father was murdered at the hands of King Hamlet after losing a bet and land of Norway was claimed for Denmark. Hamlet and Fortinbras are the most similar characters in the play because their uncles took the throne after the murder of their fathers. However, the ways that both men go about avenging their father’s deaths is different. The time since King Fortinbras’ death is so great that Fortinbras now seems to handle everything as a soldier of war. When Hamlet compares himself to young Fortinbras, he describes him “To all that fortune, death and danger dare, even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, but greatly to find quarrel in a straw when honor’s at the stake,” (Shakespeare 4.4.55-59). The way Hamlet views Fortinbras is in admiration of what a true prince should act like. An insignificant occurrence such the “eggshell” should trigger off a desire for revenge in some way if it’s to preserve the honor of the family. The encounter with Fortinbras shows Hamlet to be contemplative and hesitant when it comes to immoral actions. Instead of acting in the name of his family, Hamlet instead thinks about all possible effects of his actions. Fortinbras on the other hand is a natural born soldier, with little regard for right and wrong if it means conquering more land which makes up for the land his father lost succeeding his murder. The character of Fortinbras isn’t physi... ... middle of paper ... ...hey approach revenge exemplifies which one of them was most successful, even though they all got the ending result they wanted. Hamlet and Laertes were very different as a thinker and doer, but both died at the hand of each other through a poisoned sword. However, the only survivor of the three was Fortinbras, which shows his way, which opposed Hamlet’s, was the more successful way to take revenge. Acting as a foil to Hamlet in the way he got revenge for his father’s death shows the flaws in both Laertes and Hamlet’s plans. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. Shifrer, Anne. "Elegy of Fortinbras." Literary Reference Center. EBSCO, Jan. 2002. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. .

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