Free Essays on Good and Evil in Hamlet

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 Good versus evil is a common theme in literature.    Often, the reader learns about the characteristics of the good and the evil through less important characters. These characters are sometimes referred to as "Foils”. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet foils are used primarily to reveal Hamlet and Claudius as good vs. evil. These two foils help us to piece the puzzle together. [Which two are "these two"?]

 

     Foil's [No ' H-50] are minor character's [No '] in a story who by their similarities and differences with more important characters, helps [SV - 1] the audience to better understand the main character in that story. Also another purpose of a foil is to provide the more meaningful character with simply someone to talk to. In "Hamlet" [Titles] there are many foils used but I am going to only speak of those who lend to the fact that Hamlet and Claudius represent good and evil. [3 sic] One of Hamlet's foil's is [No '] The Ghost of his father, the former King of Denmark. One of their similarities is their relation and knowledge of one another by being father and son. When Hamlet and The Ghost meet (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 10) the reader learns that the ghost is in fact Hamlet[']s father when he says "I am thy father's spirit." Another similarity is their intelligence. The play gives many examples of Hamlet's quick witted yet smart way of speaking. And when we meet the ghost he speaks with the same intellect, only without the sarcasm used frequently by Hamlet. The main similarity is their longing for revenge. The ghost beg's [No '] Hamlet to revenge his death[,] and at the time Hamlet seems to honorably agree. By this honor the audience instantly stereotypes Hamlet as being heroic and good.

 

     Hamlet and his ghostly father also have some extreme differences. An obvious one is that of the living and the dead. This difference, I feel, was done with great purpose. The ghost makes the absolute best foil because of the fact that he, who was murdered, came back from the dead to reveal his killer.  This seems to be more believable and more prideful than if say, Horatio tells Hamlet "I know who killed your father, [CS] I think you should go after him and kill for your father's honor." [Nice idea] Another big difference between them is trust.

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The ghost oh [sic] his father naturally assumes that his son shall do him the honor of seeking out Claudius and giving him a "taste of his own medicine." Towards the beginning this assumption seems logical. This is what makes the audience perceive that Hamlet is a good man, an honorable man and he seems ready to kill for justice. When in reality, whenever Hamlet is given the chance to do his father justice, he resists. [SC Frag -1]  In fact Hamlet holds off on killing Claudius until the very end when Claudius accidentally poisons Gertrude, Hamlet[']s mother, killing her.

 

     The ghost's main function in the play was to introduce us to who the bad guy is and makes Hamlet out to be the good. [SS - 1] Also it seems as though Shakespeare was looking for a character to place in the play for only a short period of time. And[,] in that time[,] his soul [sole] purpose would be to give Hamlet someone to talk to. By the ghost's presence in the play, Hamlet talks to him to reveal to the audience his, not so genuine, heroic and good morals and also to unveil the truth to how he really performs when asked to do such an honorable thing. [Examples?] This could also suggest the conflict of appearance vs. reality.

 

     In contrast to the goodnes of Hamlet revealed to the audience by his foil The Ghost, Polonius sheds light on the evil side of King Claudius and reveals to us his true feelings for Hamlet. One of Polonius's similarities to Claudius is that they are on the same side. This being because Polonius is the King[']s councillor and therefore we assume that they share a common bond and it is likely that they know a lot about one another. [SS - 1] Though their main similarity is that they both despise Hamlet and wish to have him banished. [Frag -1] They also both think that Hamlet has gone mad. Polonius says to himself (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 201) "Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't[.]" The fact that they believe him to be crazy gives them another similarity, that they are both fools to Hamlet's extremely smart scheme.

 

     The immense difference between the two characters is their reasons for hating Hamlet. Polonius hates Hamlet for an almost understandable reason. He knows that Hamlet is in love with Ophelia. Therefore Polonius is only out to protect the well-being of his only daughter. ["Inderstandable?" Hmmmm -- Fathers hate every man who is in love with their daughters?] Claudius on the other hand hates Hamlet for only unjustified and selfish reasons. He fears that Hamlet's intelligence may uncover the truth behind Denmark's new king. [, not .] the truth being that he is a murderer. To Claudius, this threat to his own life and his solid reputation, [no ,] gives him the right to take Hamlet's life. This shows the audience a true side of the king thanks to Polonius.

 

     Through conversation with Claudius, Polonius's use as a foil reveals to the audience King Claudius's unjustified and hateful feelings toward Hamlet and his reasons for these feelings, which in return points out how evil Claudius truly is. [Specific examples? Very short paragraph.]

 

     In William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" foils are used in many different ways to reveal to the audience important facts about the main characters. In this case, The Ghost and Polonius help to unveil the conflict of good vs. evil between Hamlet and Claudius. Although some may argue against the fact that Hamlet is good because of his sneaky brilliance. [SC Frag -1] For instance T.S. Elliott who is quoted for saying "Hamlet having made a mess, dies fairly well pleased with himself." [Frag -1] This of course suggesting that he too has evil within him. [Frag -1] But, no matter how you see Hamlet or Claudius, it is still very clear that The Ghost and Polonius make two very well placed foils in this classic Shakespearian play.

 

[ I like the thesis, but there is some confusion about the foils. The organization is solid, but the paper could use a lot more examples.]
 

 


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