Free Hamlet Essays: The Foils

Free Hamlet Essays: The Foils

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Foils of Hamlet  


Hamlet is a play about a young man who is seeking revenge for his father's death. In the process of doing so, different things happen and it becomes more and more of a complex plot. Throughout the play, we are introduced to many different foils. One of which is Laertes. Shakespeare chooses to portray Hamlet and Laertes differently although they are both so similar.

Hamlet and Laertes are all in basically the same position. Both of their fathers have been killed and they are both looking to avenge those fathers' deaths. However, we see when we are reading that some characters are set up so that they gain more sympathy and such than others from the reader. For example, Shakespeare makes Laertes look like a "bad guy" because he wants to kill Hamlet but in essence, Hamlet is doing the same exact thing to Claudius. It is as if Shakespeare is saying that it is okay for Hamlet to kill but it isn't ok for Laertes to feel the need for revenge.

Hamlet begins a soliloquy with the line, "How all occasions do inform against me and spur my dull revenge!" (Act IV, sc. IV, li. 32-33) It is like Shakespeare is trying to make it look like it is such a shame the Hamlet's plans aren't working out so well and that he isn't as stable as he wants to be. It is almost like Shakespeare wants to reader to take pity on Hamlet who is not such a genuine person. He has killed Polonius and some say he has killed Ophelia. Should people really pity him because his plans to kill his uncle aren't falling correctly into place? Shakespeare is almost trying to get the reader to do so.

On the other hand, there is Laertes who is Hamlet's position. His father was killed, actually by Hamlet, and he is out to avenge that death. He is furious and passionate about it just like Hamlet is but it almost seems that when one is reading the play, they should think of Laertes as a "bad guy" and as the antagonist. Laertes says "It warms the very sickness in my heart that I shall live and tell him to his teeth, "thus did'st thou." (Act. IV sc.VII. li. 55-57) He is basically saying that he would make him so happy to kill Hamlet and to show his what he really did.

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If you look at the difference in vocabulary, it even shows how Shakespeare wanted to portray each character. When Hamlet speaks, he says, "How all occasions do inform against me!" And when Laertes speaks he says, "It warms the very sickness in my heart!" The two bits of speech seem so different coming from two people with such similar motives.

We are almost oblivious to how differently we can view certain characters just based on the difference in vocabulary that they use. Shakespeare used his cleverness and made it so we were led to believe that it was wrong of Laertes but Hamlet was doing the same things he was. We must brake it down further when the apparent foils seem to crumble.
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