Character Foils In Hamlet

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Character foils are individuals who parallel each other, but have some dissimilar traits. As these individuals are comparable, their differing characteristics have heightened contrast, allowing for certain qualities to manifest themselves more fully. Within Hamet by William Shakespeare, foil characters serve the purpose of characterizing the protagonist. This characterization is witnessed three times when foils are employed to highlight Hamlets’ indecisiveness, sanity and remorsefulness. While many aspects of Hamlet’s character develop through foils, one feature that is revealed most prominently through foils is Hamlet’s indecisiveness.

While individuals must contemplate their choices so poor decisions are not made, obsessively analyzing
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The differing trait between these two men is their urgency to get revenge. Hamlet is a rational character that wants to consider all options before making a decision. While this is normally a positive trait, Hamlet’s over-analysis causes indecisiveness, which results in inaction. This phenomenon is seen when Hamlet does not follow through with the murder of Claudius because Claudius is praying and Hamlet wants him to have unconfessed sins, so Claudius is not sent to heaven. In this instance Hamlet is looking for the optimal solution, when arguably any solution would suffice. Hamlet’s indecisiveness is contrasted with the decisiveness of Laertes who proclaims he will do anything to avenge his father, even kill the murderer in a church. As a church is a religious building, this statement implies that Laertes wants his father’s murderer dead, and their fate after death is unimportant.

In addition to Laertes being used as a foil to highlight Hamlet’s indecisiveness, Fortinbras is also employed as a foil character to display the same characteristic. Hamlet’s regret of taking so long to get revenge is shown when contrasts his inaction to Fortinbras campaign in Poland by
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While murder is never acceptable, the remorse one has for committing such a crime can be a good indication of whether they deserve forgiveness. In Hamlet by Shakespeare, the remorselessness of foil characters is used to highlight Hamlet’s remorse. Hamlet’s regret for killing Polonius when Gertrude says, “To draw apart the body he hath kill’d: / O 'er whom his very madness, like some ore / Among a mineral of metals base, / Shows itself pure; He weeps for what is done” (4.1.24-27).

Upon learning that it was actually Polonius who Hamlet has stabbed, Hamlet feels threatened. He immediately gets defensive, proclaiming to Gertrude that Polonius was a fool for spying on their conversation and that he got what he deserved. While it can be argued that Hamlet is guiltless over the murder of Polonius, it is more probable that Hamlet only turns to victim blaming because he needs to validate his actions to Gertrude. Gertrude supports this idea in the excerpt because she says that his remorse, along with his madness allow his good aspects to make themselves

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