English Hamlet...Writeacher

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Kristy Cheung
Grade 11 U English
January 10, 2013

The Tainted Mirror

A person who sets off another person by being a contrast to that person is known as a foil to the character. In Shakespeare’s great tragedy Hamlet, two character Laertes and Fortinbras, develop as “foils,” or complementary characters to Hamlet. In order for them to be a foil to Hamlet they must have things in common with Hamlet which will make differences more clear. Laertes and Fortinbras have a number of things that are common to Hamlet but they respond to it in various different ways. I will show how Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras compare and contrast in terms of avengers and personalities throughout this essay.

First of all, all of them had a father to avenge. But all of them had different reasons and different ways. The reason why Hamlet had to avenge his father is quite complicated because he has not gotten over the grief of his father (Old Hamlet)’s death. His father was a king of Denmark. Since he was in so much power Old Hamlet’s brother, Claudius was jealous and wanted to be the king. Therefore he decided to kill his one and only brother. Hamlet not knowing anything about this was in grief of his father’s death and his mother’s wedding to Claudius. After meeting with his father’s ghost, he figured out that Claudius killed his father. This made him angry and he sought to avenge his father. …“So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word. /It is ‘adieu, adieu, remember me.’/I have sworn ‘t.” (Act I, scene v, lines 115-117). It’s obvious that Hamlet is ready to seek his revenge on his uncle Claudius. Similarly, Laertes also shows his anger at first, but unlike Hamlet he mobs the castle upon hearing the news of the death of his father Polonius. Laertes believes in prompt revenge while Hamlet’s soul is really dear to him. Laertes goes to an extent of killing whoever is responsible for his fathers’ death. He is ready to do anything to get revenge for his father. He is willing, “to cut [Hamlet’s] throat i' th’ church” (Act IV, scene vii, lines 140). Hamlet is also willing to do anything but because of his patience he does not get too far. For this reason he declines to kill Claudius while he is near god because he does not want Claudius to go to heaven but instead, he wants Claudius to rot in hell. Obviously, the only similarity between them is that they are avenging for their dearest father’s death. Fortinbras is the prince of Norway, Hamlet’s father has killed his father, and his uncle has unreasonably stolen the throne from him. Hamlet is spending time simply planning revenge, while Fortinbras is raising an army in attempt to reclaim the land that is his. Hamlet sees Fortinbras as a man of action and himself as a procrastinator at this stage of the play. Hamlet's perceptions of himself and Fortinbras are accurate and proven for the reader by the character foil. Hamlet is urged by comparing himself to Fortinbras. Hamlet is able to better realize his flaw and attempt to act on it; he states resiliently, "O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!" (Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 64-65). Hamlet compares himself to Fortinbras, and decides that Fortinbras is far more superior to himself. Hamlet and Fortinbras are totally opposites of each other because Hamlet takes his time to think things over while Fortinbras quickly thinks and prepares to attack on his plans.

Finally, Hamlet’s, Laertes’s and Fortinbras’s differences are most evident in their personalities. Hamlet spends his time thinking of what he will do, how he will do it and when he will do what while Laertes and Fortinbras quickly think through what they will do and then get prepared to act on it as soon as they can. Hamlet is overwhelmed by procrastination. Although he is tremendously motivated by the story of his late father’s ghost. He thinks way too much about when he should kill Claudius, how he should kill him, in what manner. He even decides what to do, but never acts on it. His thinking generally renders him inactive. There is a reason why Hamlet thinks over too much. It is because he is not a born soldier like Fortinbras, unlike Laertes; Hamlet is not hot-headed. Laertes is hot-headed and Fortinbras is a natural soldier so killing someone for them is no problem but Hamlet is a decent man who is simply a philosopher and a scholar. He is trained to think things through intelligently before action. Therefore all three of their personalities are totally different.

As illustrated, the characters of Hamlet, Fortinbras and Laertes are developed as foils through Hamlet. The three characters compare and contrast largely in the areas of avengers and personalities. At the end, all three young men succeed in avenging their fathers' deaths. Hamlet kills Claudius; Laertes Kills Hamlet and Fortinbras regains the crown of Denmark for himself.

Ok...so I started from scratch...I know you told me not too but I felt really bad...and our teacher said not to include references or bibliography so I didn't...but I am not going to lie...I used some sentences and 2 quotes..but the rest I gathered/made... Can you check if I made any grammatical errors and I also did it in MLA format but please check my quotes etc...

Thankyou sooo much I greatly appreciated your comments and all the help you gave me!:)

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