The Necessity of Foils in Hamlet

The Necessity of Foils in Hamlet

Length: 694 words (2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Necessity of Foils in Hamlet        

 Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare, can be very difficult to comprehend at first. These complexities of language are what make Hamlet one of the classic dramas. The many characters in the play support the development of Hamlet. Certain traits seen in these lesser characters are sometimes seen in Hamlet, further adding to his identity. Without these characters, more soliloquies and characterization would have to be added in order for Hamlet's character to be developed. By adding these characters, called foils, Shakespeare subtly attributes to Hamlet without deliberately stating them. In the play, the main concepts exhibited by the other characters are revenge and betrayal. This idea is developed through the use of foils and is eventually [?] seen in Hamlet himself.  [No definition of foils?]


     The foil that shows revenge and betrayal in Hamlet seems to be Horatio. He is a foil because he is a listener for Hamlet. Horatio is also the only one who seems sympathetic of Hamlet concerning the death of his father and his mother's quick remarriage. Horatio, like Hamlet[,] is a student at Wittenberg. He is loyal to Hamlet, like Hamlet is to his father at first. Horatio, however, never has his social status and rank stated in the play. Horatio, through conversations[,] develops Hamlet's image. The main example of this is the plot to Claudius that Hamlet devises after seeing his father's ghost. Horatio, however, differs from Hamlet because he is less devious. Hamlet, who acts insane to fool the others, is only known to be sane by Horatio.


     Revenge and betrayal is also seen in Laertes. Though an enemy, Laertes is a foil to Hamlet. Laertes helps in the development of Hamlet through the similarities they share. These include anger over the death of their fathers, and a desire to exact revenge. Betrayal is also relevant here, because Laertes betrays Claudius in the end, revealing his plan to kill Hamlet. [Nice point] Hamlet betrays his father by verbally abusing his mother, against the wishes of his father. The differences between the two men are very strong. Hamlet would not kill Claudius in the church because he was praying. Laertes, however, stated he would kill Hamlet in a church, praying or not. [Another nice point, but I would like the scene reference.]


     Hamlet and Laertes differ in one major aspect.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Necessity of Foils in Hamlet." 17 Oct 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Foils of Hamlet Essay

- 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] )....   [tags: Hamlet]

Free Essays
881 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about Purpose of the Different Foils in Shakespeare's Hamlet

- In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses foils to enhance the characters namely to enhance Hamlet. A foil is a minor character who with their similarities and differences reveals character traits, that of another character opposite to them. The character may also be put in place by the author to give the main character a person to talk to, through this conversation useful information can be received about either the main character or the plot in general. This can be shown through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, also the Ghost of King Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes....   [tags: Hamlet, Shakespeare]

Research Papers
719 words (2.1 pages)

The Foils in Hamlet Essay examples

- Foils in Hamlet A foil is a minor character that helps the audience better understand a major character. A foil may exist as a comparison character, with similarities between the two, as well as differences that bring to light an important contrast between the foil and the main character. A foil may also just be someone for the main character to talk to, so we can know and understand their thoughts and feelings. Foils help us understand the obvious as well as the arcane. In the classic tragedy Hamlet, we see William Shakespeare employ foils to illustrate both examples....   [tags: Free Hamlet Essays]

Research Papers
869 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about Foils as Reflections of Hamlet

-      Foils are minor characters, that through similarities and differences, set off or accent the main characters of a play. There is a strong connection between the foils in a play and one's final perception of the main characters. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, there is a continuous shifting of the main character's emotions. These emotions range anywhere from madness and rage to grief and sorrow. In Hamlet there is a foil that represents each emotion and behavior that is displayed by the main character- Hamlet....   [tags: Hamlet Essays]

Research Papers
1055 words (3 pages)

Laertes and Polonius as Foils to Hamlet Essay

- Laertes and Polonius as Foils to Hamlet              Foils are the minor characters in a play that aid in developing the more important characters. By using the similarities and differences between two characters, the audience can get a better understanding of that major character. In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses many foils to develop the major characters of his play. Two foils that Shakespeare used to develop Hamlet's character were Laertes and Polonius.         One of the foils important to the play is Laertes.  Although Laertes does not appear  often in the play, he brings much to the plot and to Hamlet's character....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]

Research Papers
901 words (2.6 pages)

The Foils of Laertes and Fortinbras in Hamlet Essay

- The Foils of Laertes and Fortinbras in Hamlet         William Shakespeare wrote the classic play, Hamlet in the sixteenth century.  Hamlet would be a very difficult play to understand without the masterful use of foils.  A foil is a minor character in a literary work that compliments the main character through similarities and differences in personality.  The audience can identify similarities and differences between any of the characters and Hamlet, however, there are two characters that share so much in common with Hamlet that they have to be considered the most important foils in the play.  These two characters are Laertes and Fortinbras.  It is the great similarities between Laertes,...   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]

Research Papers
1035 words (3 pages)

Free Essays on The Foils of Hamlet

- The Foils of Hamlet      William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet the play, in the sixteenth century. This play displays a lot of foils in it. You might ask yourself, what is a foil. A foil is a minor character in a literary work that uses [?] similarities and differences to help characterize the main character. There are two important foils in this play.      One of the foils in the play is Laertes. He [Who?] compares Laertes to h[H]amlet by using similarities. Laertes (Polonius’ son) is similar to h[H]amlet in that they both want to revenge their fathers....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]

Free Essays
605 words (1.7 pages)

Horatio and Laertes as Foils in Hamlet Essay

- Horatio and Laertes as Foils in Hamlet Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare is a play about a man's revenge for his father's murder and all the tragedy that comes along with it. The play takes us through the emotions and doubts Prince Hamlet finds within himself after speaking with the presumed ghost of his father, the former King of Denmark. Through Hamlet we meet Horatio, a friend of Hamlet's and a fellow student. When reading [ref] the conversations between Hamlet and Horatio, it becomes clear how Hamlet feels about his father's murder and his plans to avenge this murder....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]

Research Papers
1116 words (3.2 pages)

Foils in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- 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...   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet]

Free Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

Free Hamlet Essays: Foils of Hamlet

- Foils of Hamlet In the classic play Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a work that has and will test time. [SS - 1] In this piece of work there are many characters that contribute as foils. A foil is a minor character in a literary work who by the similarities and differences in what the character does (compared to a more important character) or by simple [sic] being there for another character to talk to which helps the audience understand a more important character. [SS - 1] There are many foils of the main character, Hamlet....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]

Free Essays
674 words (1.9 pages)

Related Searches

Hamlet has the flaw such that he cannot be a man of action and a man of thought at the same time. He does not use his mind when he acts. He just does. When he is pondering something, he is unable to act out his thoughts and keeps quiet. Laertes, however[,] is able to act while thinking. He finds out Hamlet killed his father and immediately devises a plan to kill him. This flaw makes Hamlet dangerous to himself and is his downfall.


     The play Hamlet is very complex yet very primitive. It is written for a variety of audiences. The poor class would have tuned in on the sexual banter between Hamlet and Ophelia, as well as the gravedigger scene. The upper class would have picked up on the ideas of foils in the play. They would see how Hamlet is developed through the incorporation of may [sic] sub characters. Without these characters, the play would suffer a great loss and would not be nearly as understandable as it is. Also as said before, Many [sic] more soliloquies would have to be needed to express the thoughts of Hamlet. The play would [have] been more cut up and choppy without the foils. [Cut up and choppy?] Revenge and betrayal, the theme of the play, are seen both in the main characters and Laertes. Also seen is a comparison of how vengeful and disloyal Hamlet is compared to Horatiio. [sic]  Revenge and betrayal is also seen in Polonius, Gertrude, [?] and Claudius. This is why that theme was chosen. Finally, the foils of the play develop Hamlet's character subtly, instead of a description in the Dramatis personae. These elements of drama are what make Hamlet one of the classic works of its time.

Return to