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The Foils of Hamlet

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the foils of hamlet In his plays, Shakespeare often puts the antagonists in circumstances similar to or resembling the problems of the main character or hero. He does this in order to give us a clear perception of what the characters are like, through contrast or similarity between them. These literary experiments are called foils. In Hamlet, Shakespeare gives us many foils for Hamlet, the main character. One major foil is Ophelia. Hamlet and Ophelia have both lost their fathers. In the beginning of the play it seems that Hamlet is mourning too much and over reacting, but when Ophelia loses her father it makes Hamlet’s mourning seem subtle. Ophelia is very affected by her father’s death and it eventually leads to a factor in her insanity and death. This changes the way we look at Hamlet and Ophelia. Another foil for Hamlet is Polonius, Laertes’ and Ophelia’s father. Hamlet and Polonius are both very quick to speak or and lash out in excitement. Both of them have made major mistakes because of this unwanted trait. Hamlet has, on many occasions, spoken too quickly or acted out of rage or ignorance and hurt himself and others. When Polonius spies on Hamlet and the Queen, Hamlet thinks that it is the king who is spying behind the curtain, and without knowing who it really is he stabs Polonius and kills him. Polonius also has the same problem, but with much tamer results. Polonius usually ends up just making himself sound like a babbling fool by not thinking things out first. He never really hurt anyone and his slaying by Hamlet’s sword makes Hamlet seem more the fool. This foil gives Hamlet the image of a violent person that doesn’t know how to control his emotions, and in this instance he almost becomes the antagonist. Hamlet also has foils that aren’t as close to him. Like the young Fortinbras, the nephew to the king of Norway. Fortinbras’ father, the king was killed, and his uncle, the king’s brother took over the crown. The exact same thing happened to Hamlet. Both countries also have a prince who feels that they were robbed from the crown. Fortinbras, in contrast to Hamlet, takes an active role in Norway’s leadership. In act IV scene 4, he leads an army on to Poland. He also does this because he want’s to avenge his father’s death by taking what he believes to be rightfully his. Hamlet spends most of his time sulking or complaining, and it makes him seem a little spoiled and cowardly, as if he doesn’t want to face the world. He keeps his plot for revenge a secret. In somewhat the same manner Laertes

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