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Shakespeares use of foil with hamlet and laertes

To help the reader understand a character with greater depth, writers sometimes use a literary device called a foil. A foil is a character that contrasts strongly with another.

Fortinbras and, to a greater extent, Laertes act as foils to Hamlet with respect to their motives for revenge, execution of their plans, and behavior while carrying out their plans. Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils to Hamlet Play: William Shakespeare We have so large base of authors that we can prepare a unique summary of any book. How fast would you like to get it? We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Laertes, on the other hand, is compelled to seek revenge because he loses his father and eventually his sister. While Fortinbras and Laertes are driven by pride and love, Hamlet seems to act out of desperation.

His uncle, Claudius, has killed his father, taken the throne, and married his mother. Shakespeare hints about the nature of Fortinbras simply by choosing this name.

Foils in Hamlet

Fortinbras fulfills this description when he persists in trying to reclaim land by attacking Poland. This implies that Laertes will take action if necessary.

  • Fortinbras alerts the Danes of his intentions before the play because, in the first act, the Danes know he is preparing an attack;
  • Is Claudius genuinely guilty, or is the ghost really a devil, giving misleading information?
  • What if he does kill Claudius, won't that secure a place for himself in Purgatory?
  • Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils to Hamlet Play;
  • Perhaps the most blatant display of Hamlet lacking morals comes when he returns from England and informs Horatio that he switched the letters so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be put to death upon arriving in England;
  • Hamlet and the Philosophy of Criticism.

Shakespeare also compares Laertes to the image of a tidal wave when he returns from France in order to show that Laertes is unfaltering in his decisions as is a tidal wave in its course.

In contrast to Fortinbras and Laertes, Hamlet feels overpowered by his task, which makes him indecisive. This demonstrates the overwhelming futility Hamlet feels about his task.

Since Fortinbras and Laertes are committed to achieving their objectives, they allow others to influence their decisions whereas Hamlet acts alone once he commits himself to killing Claudius.

  • The Life and Times of William Shakespeare;
  • Old Royal Shakespeare Theatre Source Laertes and Revenge Laertes' response to his father's death is to return immediately to Denmark, ready to kill Claudius, whom he assumes to be the killer;
  • Give us the foils.

Laertes also allows himself to be manipulated by Claudius when he returns from France. Hamlet, on the other hand, is in control of his situation. Although he acts crazy at points, Hamlet is aware of the events occurring around him.

This illustrates that Hamlet realizes the main reason he is having reservations about killing Claudius is due to his ongoing thought on the subject. This shows that Hamlet knows he over analyzes each situation and that he cannot act in a moment, which causes him to put off killing Claudius until the very end of the play. By stating this, Hamlet hints that he has thought about his revenge so much that he just wishes the issue would go away, yet he knows he must follow through.

Another area in which Fortinbras and Laertes contrast Hamlet is in the way they treat the aggressors of their fathers. Fortinbras alerts the Danes of his intentions before the play because, in the first act, the Danes know he is preparing an attack.

Laertes claims he will put off his revenge for the time being, yet he will still seek it nonetheless. Instead of declaring his revenge to Claudius, Hamlet uses a series of puns to show his frustration and anger with the king. Shakespeare portrays Fortinbras as being concerned with material possession in the play.

The Norwegian prince seems determined to build up his kingdom no matter what the cost. In this scene, Fortinbras claims the throne in front of Horatio, who has just seen his friend and many others die, which shows that he has no respect for the recent deaths.

  • Works Cited Bradley, A;
  • He is not Claudius;
  • He knows that Claudius is a criminal and that he deserves death, but Hamlet is not a natural killer;
  • Fortinbras fulfills this description when he persists in trying to reclaim land by attacking Poland;
  • Laertes claims he will put off his revenge for the time being, yet he will still seek it nonetheless.

Laertes on the other hand, displays a few more morals than Fortinbras, but he, too, acts maliciously at times. Once Laertes realizes he is wounded and poisoned, he shakespeares use of foil with hamlet and laertes Hamlet and asks Hamlet for forgiveness: Once Laertes sees how Claudius manipulated him and recognizes he will die from the poison, Laertes shows his morals by forgiving Hamlet and asking for his forgiveness. Hamlet is the character that the audience wants to like and sympathize with in the beginning of the play; however, they find it hard because he lacks some morals and values, just as Laertes and Fortinbras do.

Hamlet, however, shows a lack of values when he slanders Ophelia in the play scene. He continues this behavior when he delays killing Claudius, who appeared to be praying, because that would send his soul to Heaven.

Perhaps the most blatant display of Hamlet lacking morals comes when he returns from England and informs Horatio that he switched the letters so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be put to death upon arriving in England. In the tragedy Hamlet, William Shakespeare uses the characters of Fortinbras and Laertes to contrast with Hamlet throughout the play. While Hamlet takes his time, carefully planning his moves, Laertes and Fortinbras act in haste.

This leads Laertes and Fortinbras to be manipulated by others, but since Hamlet is secretive about his plans and thinks everything through, he does not become a pawn. The reader understands Hamlet, the royal hero of the play, better when reminded what the prince might have done had he been less concerned about behaving honorably and reasonably in a world that according to the play is absurd.

Works Cited Bradley, A.

Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils to Hamlet Play: Hamlet Playwrite: William Shakespeare

Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. Modern Essays in Criticism.

  1. Laertes claims he will put off his revenge for the time being, yet he will still seek it nonetheless.
  2. Without his important father, Laertes may lose his status and his place at court.
  3. In this scene, Fortinbras claims the throne in front of Horatio, who has just seen his friend and many others die, which shows that he has no respect for the recent deaths.
  4. Throughout the play he is deliberating, pondering and worrying. This leads Laertes and Fortinbras to be manipulated by others, but since Hamlet is secretive about his plans and thinks everything through, he does not become a pawn.
  5. A foil is a character that contrasts strongly with another. Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils to Hamlet Play.

Need Help With Your Essay? Oxford University Press, 1986. Nick Hern Books, 2001.

Hamlet and His Foils: Fortinbras and Laertes

The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. Henry Holt and Company, 1988. A Study in Shakespeare. Washington Square Press, 1992. Hamlet and the Philosophy of Criticism.

What Happens in Hamlet.