Fortinbras And Foils In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Hamlet, by William Shakespeare’s most notorious play, depicts the story of a young man who lives in Denmark and sets out to avenge his father, killing his uncle who is now king, which was told to him by his father’s ghost: “The serpent that did sting thy father 's life/ Now wears his crown” (1.5). The play is set up to make a cast of characters, through foils, give the character of Hamlet more life and thus enhance the play. Fortinbras and Laertes are the predominant foils to Hamlet; they will be analyzed and compared in the following essay, weighing out the importance of this foil effect to the plot & the effect of the play. Prince Fortinbras of Norway and Laertes depict the exact opposite of Hamlet’s character. All of these characters seek revenge for the death of their fathers by taking the matter into their own hands: Fortinbras seeks war against Denmark (former King Hamlet killed Fortinbras’ father), while Laertes returns from Paris to Eslionor to fight for his dead father 's honor. However, the way these two characters carry themselves is much different than the way Hamlet does. He, himself speaks of Laertes and Fortinbras as people who are basic contrasts to him. The reader understands this in Act IV, Scene iv where Hamlet describes Fortinbras and his valiant character and promises to become somewhat more like him. Hamlet says, "Witness this army of such mass and charge/ Led by a delicate and tender prince,/ Whose spirit with divine ambition puff 'd/ Makes mouths at

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