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Laertes As A Foil To Hamlet Character Analysis

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In “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark”, William Shakespeare uses the sayings and behaviors of many of his minor characters to show his audiences the true characteristics of the protagonist, Prince Hamlet. This literary device is called a foil. A foil is a character whose traits help to clarify the character of the protagonist. In this famous play, Prince Hamlet has many foils. Laertes is the most effective foil to Hamlet because of how his life and reactions compare to that of Hamlet. One similarity that makes Laertes such a good foil to Hamlet is that they both return to Denmark when they have lost a father. However, the sharp contrast in their reaction to these deaths reveals more about Hamlet’s character. Upon returning to…show more content…
The type of love felt by Hamlet and Laertes is quite different. Ophelia is the sister of Laertes and therefore he has brotherly love for her. Before leaving Denmark, Laertes advises against relations with Hamlet. He remarks on the love Hamlet has for Ophelia as being “The perfume and suppliance of a minute,/ No more.” (I, iii, 9-10) This is evidence of tension between Laertes and Hamlet and foreshadows the later confrontation between them. On the contrary, Hamlet feels romantic love for Ophelia. His love is supposedly so passionate that “Forty thousand brothers/ Could not with all their quantity of love” (V, i, 275-276) care for her as much as he does. Both Laertes and Hamlet carry their love to Ophelia’s grave. While at the grave, Laertes shows his brotherly love for Ophelia once more when he stands inside her grave and exclaims “Hold off the earth awhile,/ Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.” (V, i, 253-254) Laertes and Hamlet confront one another in a grapple. In this instance, Hamlet does not think about the consequences, instead he defends himself and fights Laertes. It is evident that Laertes and Hamlet are connected by their love for Ophelia, however the obvious opposition reveals Hamlet’s ability to take real action when
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