Foils as Reflections of Hamlet Essay

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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.

Laertes holds the most important role as a foil to Hamlet. He represents the rage that boils within Hamlet and the revenge which he seeks. In many ways Laertes mirrors Hamlet's character. Their
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Both Polonius and Hamlet are constantly suspicious of other people's motives and are ready to believe the worst in their loved ones. For example, Polonius sends Reynaldo to Paris to spy on Laertes and obtain any information which may prove detrimental to his own character (pp. Act II scene 1). This type of conduct resembles the world in which Hamlet keeps himself a prisoner of his own paranoia. In addition, it appears that both men would stop at nothing to stay on top of things. This first becomes obvious in the first scene of act two when both Polonius and Hamlet use Ophelia to hurt one another. Polonius uses her as a decoy to find out if Hamlet is truly mad, and in turn Hamlet uses her as a decoy to make her father think he was mad. The differences in these two characters are apparent from the very beginning of the play. Polonius is portrayed as a imbecile, throughout the entire play he continually makes a ragging fool of himself. Hamlet on the other hand, only acts as a fool at times in order to maintain his attitude of madness for the purpose of achieving his desired plan to kill the king. The most significant difference between the two men is in their level of respect for King Claudius. It is obvious that Polonius would do almost anything to demonstrate and prove his loyalty to the king. Whereas Hamlet feels only contempt for Claudius, even before the ghost reveals that he is
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