Foils As Reflections Of Hamlet Essay

1072 words - 4 pages

 
   Foils are minor characters, that through similarities and differences, set off or accent the main characters of a play. There is a strong connection between the foils in a play and one's final perception of the main characters. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, there is a continuous shifting of the main character's emotions. These emotions range anywhere from madness and rage to grief and sorrow. In Hamlet there is a foil that represents each emotion and behavior that is displayed by the main character- Hamlet.

      Laertes holds the most important role as a foil to Hamlet. He represents the rage that boils within Hamlet and the revenge  which he seeks. In many ways Laertes mirrors Hamlet's character. Their anger is precipitated through the same source, the untimely death of their fathers. Other similarities between the two men include the love that they both felt for Ophelia, and the heartfelt sorrow which they displayed upon her tragic death. The differences between Hamlet and Laertes become obvious as the two characters are played off of each other. Both men are the dutiful sons of their father's. However Leartes is portrayed as the well-breed son, while Hamlet's character is played down to that of a more peculiar type commoner who possesses few royal qualities. Although both men are students, Leartes prefers to indulges in a Parisian type lifestyle, whereas Hamlet chooses to study in the more subdued atmosphere of Whittenburg. There is also a difference in the way that both men react to the death of their fathers. Upon learning of his father's death, Laertes immediately allows his grievances to be known and chooses to go strait to the arena for his revenge. Hamlet chooses a more peculiar approach in seeking his revenge, as he runs around the shadows of the castle attempting to be deemed crazy.

 

     Polonius represents the more guarded and paranoid side of Hamlet. Both Polonius and Hamlet are constantly suspicious of other people's motives and are ready to believe the worst in their loved ones. For example, Polonius sends Reynaldo to Paris to spy on Laertes and obtain any information which may prove detrimental to his own character (pp. Act II scene 1).  This type of conduct resembles the world in which Hamlet keeps himself a prisoner of his own paranoia. In addition, it appears that both men would stop at nothing to stay on top of things. This first becomes obvious in the first scene of act two when both Polonius and Hamlet use Ophelia to hurt one another. Polonius uses her as a decoy to find out if Hamlet is truly mad, and in turn Hamlet uses her as a decoy to make her father think he was mad. The differences in these two characters are apparent from the very beginning of the play. Polonius is portrayed as a imbecile, throughout the entire play he continually makes a ragging fool of himself.  Hamlet on the other hand, only acts as a fool at times in order to maintain his attitude of madness for the...

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