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Foil In Hamlet

Matt Foster and John Kassatkine
by

John Kassatkine

on 6 November 2012

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Transcript of Foil In Hamlet

Foil In Hamlet In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, he presents dramatic foils with Fortinbras, Horatio, and Laertes. Young Fortinbras and His Foils The old king Hamlet kills Fortinbras' father, the current king of Norway, and Fortinbras is gathering an army to attack Denmark. "Now sir, young Fortinbras
Of unimproved metal, hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there
Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes" (1.1.95-98) Horatio is telling the guards that Fortinbras is gathering his army and secretly attacking Denmark in order to avenge his fathers death. "We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name."
(4,4,17-18) Hamlet is achieving a sense of honor by killing Claudius and Fortinbras gets his feeling of honor and greatness by getting the land his dead father lost. Fortinbras also has a sense of honor and pride like Hamlet as two are working to achieve a common goal which is revenge but just on different levels. Hamlet later in the play realizes how him and Fortinbras are similar, but Fortinbras acts upon his words and doesn't think as much as Hamlet does. "Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake."
(IV,IV,52-55) Hamlet concludes that greatness lies in the persons ability to stand and fight to preserve honor, regardless if its a big or small amount. Laertes also acts as a foil to Hamlet because he acts on revengeful thoughts similar to Fortinbras. He also acts more direct than Hamlet. In this quote he storm the castle demanding answers from Claudius. "That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,
Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot
Even here, between the chaste unsmirch’d brows
Of my true mother."
(4.5.115-118)
Laertes states that if he does not avenge his father, he will shame his family name and prepares to kill Claudius under the assumption that he committed the murder. Later in the act, after Laertes has calmed down, Claudius pulls him aside and talks about Hamlet and his shameful and unforgiving act. Laertes comments about what he wants to do to Hamlet saying: “To cut his throat i’ the church”(4.7.127). Laertes declares that he wants to kill Hamlet by cutting his throat in a sacred and holy place, the church. He wants revenge for what has happened to him and his family Nearing the end of the play, during the final battle, Laertes states that if he does not kill Hamlet his honour amongst his family will be lost and he will have failed them. He is finally about to get his revenge for his father’s sake. Laertes states: "I am satisfied in nature,
Whose motive, in this case, should stir me most
To my revenge: but in my terms of honour
I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement."
(5.2.235-238)
Laertes prepares to finally exact revenge on Hamlet for killing his father, but Hamlet realizes this could be his last chance to kill Claudius and exact his revenge. So Hamlet tries to stay alive long enough to kill his mortal foe. Foils with Laertes Finally, we have the foils with Horatio and Hamlet. Horatio acts as a foil to Hamlet because of his opposite personality and his alternate views on life in general. Horatio is a scholarly man which means he is very smart and does not get frustrated easily. Horatio acts as Hamlet’s stabilizer throughout the play and he is the calming friend to the angry prince. Hamlet is always jealous of Horatio’s lack of anger and frustration Early in the play, when the guards and Horatio first see the ghost, Horatio is calm even though he is still skeptical of what he is seeing and asks the ghost to speak if it is real: Speak to me:
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
O, speak!
Or, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death.
(1.1.132-138)
Horatio demands that the ghost speak to him. Because of his educational background, Horatio is skeptical about many topics, especially superstitions about ghosts and such. Horatio is also foil in Hamlet because both of them were very humble to King Hamlet and Horatio passed that loyalty towards Hamlet as he says at the end of the play: “Never believe it
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane
Here's yet some liquor left.”
(V,II,336-338) Horatio claims that he should kill himself with the remaining poison since Hamletis dying. Horatio shows this great sign of loyalty to Hamlet but he refuses to accept it and orders him to spread his story instead if he truly cherishes him. Before the play within the play occurs, Hamlet talks with Horatio about the plan to catch the king’s guilty conscience in action. Hamlet comments on Horatio stability and calmness about everything that is going on in his life: For what advancement may I hope from thee / That no revenue hast but thy good spirits”(3.2.56-57) Hamlet flatters Horatio because of his steady personality that does not waiver even in times of doubt or conflict. His emotions remain true to form and Hamlet admires Horatio for that. Bibliography

- William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Thank You For Your Time!
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