Character Foils In William Shakespeare's Hamlet And Fortinbras

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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a literary masterpiece — a story of revenge, psychological distress, distorted truth, sexism and corruption — bound into a framework laced with cynicism and volatility. All intricately woven into a narrative through the characters Shakespeare develops. Hamlet, the central personality of the story and protagonist throughout, is characterized in a particularly maverick manner: through the other characters. This idea in literature is called the character foil: when the contrasting qualities or attributes of two characters aims to highlight specific traits or actions (or lack thereof…) of one of the characters. In Hamlet, Shakespeare crafts each character to contrast with Hamlet in some significant way to highlight…show more content…
Fortinbras sought to avenge his father 's death by retaking the lost lands. As another son seeking revenge for his father, Fortinbras acts as a “double” of Hamlet. While both Hamlet and Fortinbras had a shared goal of seeking revenge for their father’s death, each went about it in a very different manner. Some argue that the main contrast between Hamlet and Fortinbras is the difference in action, however I would contend that, while this is true, that is purely a result of the primary contrast in their motives. Fortinbras sought revenge in the name of honor and national pride while Hamlet’s motive was purely personal, and because of this, he was bound by his moral conscience or sense of decency (unlike Laertes), resulting in his inability to act. On the contrary, because the end that Fortinbras south was not personal, but rather honor-based, he was not constrained by the same obligations. Thus, he took action and channeled his frustrations through his efforts to regain the Norwegian land won by Old King Hamlet. In fact, it was this intense desire Fortinbras had that was the catalyst that Hamlet admittedly needed to catapult himself out of

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