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Hamlet Foils Essay

933 words - 4 pages

Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, incorporates two key foils of Laertes and Fortinbras to Hamlet. These three characters share the same goal of avenging their father’s murders but act in different ways. The use of foils within Hamlet is used to develop the major differences within the characters and their actions.
Fortinbras’ father was murdered at the hands of King Hamlet after losing a bet and land of Norway was claimed for Denmark. Hamlet and Fortinbras are the most similar characters in the play because their uncles took the throne after the murder of their fathers. However, the ways that both men go about avenging their father’s deaths is different. The time since King Fortinbras’ death ...view middle of the document...

He would have been a great king if he had had the chance to prove himself. Military music and military rites will speak for his heroic qualities. Pick up the corpses. A sight like this suits a battlefield, but here at court it shows that much went wrong. Go outside and tell the soldiers to fire their guns in honor of Hamlet,” (5.2.441-449).
This speech demonstrates the admirations shown by Fortinbras towards Hamlet. Based off of the final speech given by Fortinbras, poet Zbigniew Herbert gives a deeper understanding for the seldom present character. Herbert depicts Fortinbras as an envious character that believes he’s more worthy of fame than Hamlet due to his accomplishments as a soldier. Also, succeeding the bloodbath in act V, Fortinbras is the one who is forced with the task of cleaning up the dead bodies. Herbert believes that Fortinbras is a major character that deserved attention throughout Hamlet, since he avenged his father’s death in a worthier way (Shifrer).
Laertes is another character that acts in comparison to Hamlet since Polonius was murdered by young Hamlet. The only similarities shared by Hamlet and Laertes is the fact that they both feel the need to avenge their deceased father. However, like Fortinbras, Laertes seems to be more impulsive in his actions and doesn’t think things through like Hamlet. This is an honorable character trait in the context of the play since it’s to uphold the integrity of the family. Following the news of his father’s death, Laertes says, “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...

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