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Word Count: 1,017
Foils in Shakespeares Hamlet Hamlet written in 1600 by William Shakespeare offers one of the most complex and unique storylines in literature history The cause of its excellence is primarily based on Shakespeares profound use of his characters The main character Hamlet is a reflective and thoughtful young man who is often hesitant and indecisive This personality attributes to his hamartia or tragic flaw Shakespeare further demonstrates this throughout the play with the use of foils A foil is a minor character used to help develop or understand a major character The foil must have some similarities with the major character in order to create a link with him but must also be different in order to show or distinguish something about the major character The two characters that Shakespeare uses to accomplish this are Fortinbras and Laertes William Shakespeare emphasizes Hamlet simply as a man by exposing his strengths and weaknesses through the contrast provided by Fortinbras as a foil Hamlet acknowledges the convolution of man when he declares What apiece of work is man how noble in reason how infinitein faculties in form and moving how express and admirable in action how like an angeland yetquintessence of dust II 2 298-303 At his first appearance young Fortinbras is shown to be inferior to Hamlet as seen in the line young FortinbrasOf unimproved mettle hot and full I 1 95-96 This statement is in strong contrast to Hamlet who in scene two is described by King Claudius as sweet and commendable I 2 87 As the play develops however Hamlets weaknesses are highlighted as Fortinbras works to earn his name as an audacious soldier Fortinbras uncomplicated simple-minded determination towards revenge of his fathers death contrasts with Hamlets sporadic efforts towards the same goal Fortinbras first appearance in the play which does not occur until act IV scene 4 is conveniently placed as Hamlet is in one of his slumps of depression Fortinbras triumphant
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