Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils for Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1647 Words 7 Pages
Laertes and Fortinbras as Foils for Hamlet

Hamlet, the major character in the Shakespeare play of the same name, was faced with a decision upon learning that Claudius murdered his father. Should he believe the ghost, and avenge his father's murder? Or is the ghost evil, trying to coerce him into killing Claudius? Throughout the play, we see Hamlet's struggle with this issue. Many opportunities arise for him to kill Claudius, but he is unable to act because he cannot convince himself to believe the Ghost. Shakespeare uses Laertes and Fortinbras as foils to Hamlet, in order to help us understand why Hamlet acts the way he does.

Foils are used in plays so that the readers are better able to understand the major character
…show more content…
Laertes is smart enough to listen to the king. However, he could not have known that the king was being deceitful. We can see that both Hamlet and Laertes try to use their wits to solve problems.

There is also another similarity between the two; [Semicolons vs. colons] they both are very concerned about the significant female in their lives. Hamlet is very concerned about his mother's relationship with Claudius, and he obsesses over it. For example in the closet scene in Act 3, Hamlet tells his mother not to sleep with Claudius anymore. He wants his mother to be virtuous, and he forcefully urges her to do so. Laertes is also concerned about a female character, his sister Ophelia. He expresses his concern over her relationship with Hamlet. He makes a point of telling this to her before he leaves for France. He warns her that Hamlet will just hurt her in the long run, because he most likely will not marry a woman of her rank. He also makes a point that she too should remain virtuous and not loose [sic; a dangerous error here -- some readers will wander off track thinking about the connotations of "loose" in this context.] her virginity to Hamlet.

A less obvious similarity between the Hamlet and Laertes is the scrutiny that they are under from their parents. Hamlet is being watched carefully by Claudius and his mother, through his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The king and queen have

Related Documents