Foils In Hamlet Thesis Essays
Literary techniques evoke images, emotion and in the case of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" teach a lesson. The dominant literary technique ongoing throughout "Hamlet" is the presence of foils. A foil is a character who, through strong contrast and striking similarities, underscores the protagonist's distinctive characteristics. Hamlet shares many distinct characteristics and situations with both Laertes, son of the slain Polonius, and Fortinbras, son of the slain King of Norway. However, the three sons of murdered fathers all see their own situation differently and attempt to even the score' in different manners. Shakespeare uses the similarities and differences between the foils to accentuate the alternate routes Prince Hamlet could have taken in his quest for revenge.
After the death of King Hamlet, the Queen Gertrude and the king's younger brother Claudius marry hastily(1.2.1-13). Because Prince Hamlet has yet to return from school to take the throne, Claudius declares himself King. Grief-stricken, Hamlet does not protest but rather sulks in the very thought that his mother would be involved in such an incestuous relationship. When Hamlet learns that his father did not die of natural causes, but...
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Many authors use foils to better illustrate the nature of the character. Foils are characters who compliment yet contrast the main character. With the use of foils the reader can get a better understanding of the main character through the dialogue of the foils. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we find Prince Hamlet foiled by many characters. Each foil revealing something different about Hamlet. One such foil in this play is undoubtedly Laertes, the son of Polonius. There are a few ways that Laertes mirrors Hamlets character, the revenge they both seek , the anger they both have, and they both mourn Ophelia’s death. Just as a foil can mirror a character, it can contrast it. Laertes seeks instant almost thoughtless revenge whereas…show more content…
Here is where the similarity ends, both want to accomplish the same goal but the way they approach and react after their fathers death are very antithetical to each other. The actions taken by both men concerning the avenging of their fathers death are opposite to one another. Hamlet is the more cautious of the two and sits back and waits for further evidence before springing to action. Hamlet strategically plots his revenge, waiting for the opportune moment and until he is convinced his uncle is to blame for his fathers death. In contrast, Laertes seeks immediate revenge of his fathers death and he is used like a pawn by the conniving Claudius to kill Hamlet. Laertes acts on impulse and is driven by anger, which ultimately leads to both his and Hamlets demise.
Expanding more on the role of Claudius, we can take a look at the way each of them perceive Claudius and his deceitful nature. From the start, Hamlet is on to his trickery by warning of the ghost. Hamlets own mother married his fathers murderer, this course of action brings further skepticism to Hamlet and helps Hamlet see right through Claudius mischievous ways. Whereas Laertes is conned by Claudius. Claudius capitalizes on Laertes wrath and primal instinct for revenge and uses it to plot Hamlets death. Leaving Claudius in the clear meanwhile giving Laertes no way out, unbeknownst to Laertes, he will not live to see past the death of Hamlet.
Both men love Ophelia