Hamlet And Laertes : Foil In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Laertes: Foil of Hamlet In the play Hamlet, Hamlet and Laertes are characterized as foils, or opposites, of one another. Hamlet is the protagonist of the play, and the play centers around his every move. Meanwhile, Laertes is absent for much of the play and spends the majority of his time in France. In fact, he actually does not return until late in the play due to the death of his father, Polonius. Additionally, they are different in their ways of revenge. Hamlet constantly prolongs his revenge due to various arising circumstances. On the other hand, Laertes is quick to seek revenge, and this is exhibited through his response to the death of his father. The last difference is the mental sanity of the two characters. Throughout the play, Hamlet is driven into madness over the death of his father, while Laertes is always at least somewhat rational in his thoughts and actions. In thesis, Hamlet and Laertes differ in the following ways: stage presence, methods of revenge, and mental sanity. First off, one distinct difference between Hamlet and Laertes is the amount of time each is present throughout the play. Hamlet is there to witness everything that occurs in Denmark first-hand. He even discovers the hidden truth behind the death of his father when the ghost states, “Revenge [King Hamlet’s] foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare Page 35 Line 29). On the contrary, Laertes only learns of most information about Denmark by letters or informants. For example, Laertes states, “How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with” (Shakespeare Page 98 Line 141). This is after Laertes has returned to Denmark, and he still does not know who or what caused the death of his father. Another contrast between the two characters is where they travel when not in Denmark. For the short time that Hamlet is not in Denmark, he travels to England. Laertes, however, spends his time in France when he is not in Denmark. This further intensifies the notion that these characters are foils because these nations are seen as the two powerhouses in the United Kingdom. Hamlet travels to one nation, while Laertes travels to the opposite one. So, while Hamlet is present for almost the entire play, Laertes is rarely seen because of his extended
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