Hamlet: Foil Characters Essay

874 words - 4 pages

Do opposites attract? Or just want to destroy one another? Foils highlight the characteristics of the protagonist by contrasting their behavior to other characters. Hamlet is a foil to Fortinbras, Laertes, Horatio, and Claudius. Hamlet’s father kills Fortinbras’s father, Claudius kills Hamlet’s father, and Hamlet kills Laertes’s father. Each character reacts differently to the situations they are put in. Though similar in some ways, the character differences are magnified when they are challenged.
Fortinbras is opposite Hamlet when it comes to their behavior in regards to their circumstance. Hamlet’s father has been murdered and Hamlet was passed over as heir to the throne. Likewise, ...view middle of the document...

Even then, he fails to take immediate action. Furthermore, Laertes is easily manipulated; the king redirects Laertes anger and rage towards Hamlet, which is to Claudius’s advantage. Divergently, when Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern try to take advantage of Hamlet, they fail as he sees through their thinly-veiled hidden agendas. Laertes is a foil for Hamlet - both care about Ophelia, both lose their fathers, both are similarly educated. However, Hamlet is indecisive and introspective, Laertes is rash and impulsive.
Though both Hamlet and Horatio are intelligent and thoughtful, Horatio is calm and level-headed compared to Hamlet. The prince allows his emotions and passion to rule his actions. Horatio is skeptical of the ghost and remains calm throughout the encounter with it. Differing, Hamlet follows and is easily seduced by the ghost and its request. The trading of questions and answers regarding the ghost exposes Hamlet's intelligence and analytical mind. However, as Hamlet descends into his feigned madness and falls victim to his powerful emotions, Horatio serves primarily to emphasize Hamlet's weaknesses. As Hamlet's mad disposition becomes increasingly real, Horatio is his only anchor to reality. Hamlet relies increasingly on Horatio, depending on him to confirm Hamlet's observations of the king during the play scene, clouded by thoughts of revenge and conflicting feelings of anger, hatred and uncertainty. Horatio serves as Hamlet's sober second thought when Hamlet can no longer care for himself: he urges Hamlet to be cautious with the ghost at their first meeting, and tries to persuade him to withdraw from the deadly duel...

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