Foil In Hamlet Essay

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Aaliyah Watabayashi

Foil characters is a character who contrasts with another character in order highlight the qualities of the other character. This second character can also be used to enhance a major character's importance. Foil characters also helps understand the development of the other characters. This technique was employed in Shakespeare's play: Hamlet. One example was: the protagonist who is Hamlet was foiled by two minor characters, Fortinbras and Laertes. Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet can be found to be similar in one aspect. In the play all three characters had lost their fathers. Hamlet lost his father to murder which was similar to Fortinbras and Laertes' father was accidentally killed by Hamlet. However, the actions of the foil characters highlights and brings out the qualities that Hamlet has. So in that respect they are not completely similar because they all responded to their fathers' death in different ways. In the play Hamlet is seen taking little action to avenge his father's death. He was set on contemplating on if the ghost is truly his father and how he should take action against Claudius. This action contrasts against the actions Laertes and Fortinbras take. Laertes and Fortinbras take immediate action at once to avenge their fathers’ deaths.
Laertes can be first seen as a foil when he attended King Hamlet’s funeral in Denmark. Both Laertes and Hamlet also share the similarity that they are very fond of Laertes' sister, Ophelia. Another similarity of Laertes and Hamlet is that the father figure that they have, Polonius to Laertes and Claudius to Hamlet, has someone to watch them to see if they are acting accordingly. An example in the play is In act two, scene one when Polonius instructs Reynaldo to go to Paris to give Laertes money and messages, and to find other Danes that will give him gossip about Laertes. And then Claudius instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out why Hamlet is acting so strangely. Laertes and Hamlet are also grieving over deaths of someone important to them. Laertes grieves the death of Ophelia and Polonius (his father), while Hamlet grieves over his father, King Hamlet's death. The final similarity of Laertes and Hamlet is that both seek revenge for the death of their fathers but both respond to that revenge differently. Laertes wishes to kill Hamlet after Hamlet murders Polonius and Hamlet wants to kill Claudius for the murder of King Hamlet.
Although they both succeeded at getting revenge, the difference between Laertes and Hamlet is that Laertes didn't procrastinate in his attempt at revenge. He acted upon it hastily with the encouragement of Claudius which caused him to get killed in the end. Since Laertes doesn't think long about