Hamlet Foils In Hamlet

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The foils of Hamlet

In Hamlet, the main character tries to get revenge on his father’s death by plotting the murder of Claudius, but it is his indecisiveness that leads to many problems. He is supported or opposed by characters who are considered foils to him. A foil is when a main character is compared to another character to better reveal the characteristics of the main character, as well as his intentions and motivations. There are many characters who can be considered foils to Hamlet. However, the characters that truly stand as foils to the protagonist are Laertes, Fortinbras, and Claudius. Hamlet and his foils are all put in a similar situation, but it is how they react and deal with their issues that makes them distinct from Hamlet. To begin with, Laertes is the most similar foil to Hamlet when it comes to circumstance and rage. They both want revenge for their father’s death, though their method of revenge are different. Laertes is a man of action and wants to get revenge right away after learning that his father Polonius has been killed. In contrast to Laertes, Hamlet does not even make public knowledge of his father’s murder. Laertes doesn’t procrastinate his attempt at revenge like Hamlet. However, he is very shallow and Hamlet is a genius in comparison. Hamlet thinks of ways to plan his revenge against Claudius, though it is his tendency to overthink that leads him to his tragic flaw. He himself realizes that Laertes is put in a similar position to himself. “I’ll be your foil, Laertes: in mine ignorance your skill shall, like a star i’ the darkest night, Stick fiery off indeed” (V.ii.5-7). Rage is another emotion the characters have in common. When Laertes learns of his father’s death, he gets enraged and wants to get revenge instantly. "To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation: to this point I stand, that both worlds I give to negligence, let come what comes; only I'll be revenged most thoroughly for my father." (Act 4 Scene 5 lines 128-134). Laertes says to Claudius that he will honor his father when he says that he was “in deed his father’s son more than in words” and that he will kill Hamlet. “To cut his throat i’
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