Laertes And Hamlet Foils In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Many Shakespearean plays reflect views of the time in which they were written. They convey this through common themes. These themes often define a character's specific personality and characteristics. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes serves as a foil for Hamlet in which their contrast presents pivotal themes that reveal Hamlet’s character. While the play has many themes, morality, revenge, and honor specifically relate to the contrast between Laertes and Hamlet, consequently resulting in Laertes purpose as a foil for Hamlet.
Hamlet’s religion shapes his view on morality, ultimately guiding many of his actions regarding death. Hamlet is a afraid of life after death as demonstrated by his reluctance to kill Claudius during prayer.“Now
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Hamlet realizes how slow and hesitant he is to kill Claudius following the actor’s performance. He proclaims O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I:/ Is it not monstrous that this player here,/ But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,/ Could force his soul so to his own conceit/ That from her working all his visage wann’d,/ Tears in his eyes, distraction in ‘s aspect,/ A broken voice, and his whole function suiting/ With forms to his conceit?/and all for nothing!” (2.2.53-60) 3. Hamlet guilt stems from watching an actor portray more emotion than he has in his quest for vengeance. Like Hamlet, Laertes wants to avenge his father, but does it in a much more passionate way. Laertes demonstrates his passionate response through “That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,/ Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot/ Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brows/ Of my true mother.” 4.5.117-119 Laertes essentially that by not avenging his father he is not fit to be a son. He would become a bastard or a man with no birthright making his mother a harlot. He views revenge as a noble duty to his father. Laertes passionate revenge further makes Hamlet’s revenge appear weak and hesitant. Hamlet and Laertes view honor very differently and through different lenses. Laertes views family honor as a necessity, but views religious or moral honor indifferently. Hamlet believes that
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