The Foils of Hamlet Essay

646 WordsApr 28, 20063 Pages
A foil is a minor character in a literary work that compliments the main character through similarities and differences in personality and plot. In William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", the main character, Hamlet, has three major foils. These foils are his close friend Horatio, Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, and the brother of his love, Laertes. These three characters contradict and enhance Hamlet's major characteristics. Hamlet's friend Horatio is a foil for him because he brings out the revenge and betrayal in Hamlet. He is a listener for Hamlet. Horatio seems to be the only one who is sympathetic of Hamlet concerning the death of his father and his mother's quick remarriage. He is very loyal to Hamlet. Horatio, through…show more content…
Laertes also brings revenge and betrayal out of Hamlet. Though an enemy, Laertes is a foil to Hamlet. Laertes helps in the development of Hamlet through the similarities they share. These include anger over the death of their fathers, and desire to exact revenge. Betrayal is also relevant because Laertes betrays Claudius in the end, revealing his plan to kill Hamlet. Hamlet betrays his father by verbally abusing his mother, against the wishes of his father. The differences between the two men are very strong. Hamlet would not kill Claudius in the church because he was praying. Laertes, however stated that he would kill Hamlet in a church, praying or not. Another difference is that Hamlet cannot be a man of action and a man of thought at the same time. He does not use his mind when he acts. He just acts. When he is pondering something, he is unable to act out his thoughts, and keeps quiet. Laertes, however, is able to act while thinking. He finds out that Hamlet killed his father and immediately devises a plan to kill him. This flaw makes Hamlet dangerous to himself, and is ultimately his downfall. Through the different minor characters, the true feelings and personalities of the main character in a novel or a play come out. Hamlet's weaknesses, strengths, thoughts, and desires came out because of his relationships with others. Without Horatio, Fortinbras, or Laertes, the small aspects of Hamlet's
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