The Foils Of William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet ' Essay

The Foils Of William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet ' Essay

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A foil is a person who possesses qualities that are in contrast to the protagonist’s. Foils help the reader reach a deeper understanding of the character by comparing the two. Hamlet and his foils possess common characteristics which contribute to illuminating their differences further. Hamlet behaves differently than others who are in similar situations and distinct aspects of his own personality become evident as the play goes on. There are many foils for Hamlet who have much in common with him, but the two characters who have the most in common with the prince are Fortinbras and Laertes. However, these two characters respond to their circumstances in entirely different ways compared to Hamlet.
Like Hamlet, Fortinbras is also a noble prince who has lost his father. Fortinbras wants to regain his father’s lost territory. His father had lost some of his lands to King Hamlet in a previous battle. After King Hamlet had died Fortinbras thought the timing right to retake the land as the kingdom was in a time of mourning. The kingdom was also transitioning to the new king Claudius. Unlike Hamlet, Fortinbras is a driven, unrestricted character, but can be unrestrained because he does not possess any moral dilemmas. Fortinbras is free to go about openly while Hamlet must go about in secrecy much of the time. Hamlet’s quest is one of personal revenge, rendering him restricted in a sense (Hamlet 2016) He could have killed Claudius while he prayed in the chapel and did consider it, but decided against it, rationalizing that it would be better to kill him at some other location that wouldn’t automatically give the king a free pass to Heaven. It is clear that Hamlet struggles with the thought of shedding blood, especially...


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...lity and remorse, even when it comes to murder, but Hamlet regrets killing Polonius, even if he committed the murder accidently. Claudius will not let anything stand in the way of him getting what he wants but, by contrast, poor Hamlet seems to get mired down in every decision he must make. As shrewd as he is though, Claudius is afraid of Hamlet’s madness, leading him to ever greater self-doubt and anxiety. In Act III Claudius suggests that Hamlet could prove to be dangerous with his “turbulent and dangerous lunacy” and suggests that “madness in great ones must not unwatched go” (“Hamlet” C: 696).
Hamlet is a play whereby most all of its characters are foils for him, and without them, there would be no story. His foils not only reveal Hamlet’s strengths and weaknesses but also reveal to us what might have been if he had taken different paths along the way.

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The Foils Of William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet ' Essay

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