Hamlet And His Foils

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a play about a man's revenge for his father's murder and all the tragedy that comes along with it. The play revolves mainly around Hamlet and his feelings towards the marriage of his mother, Gertrude, to Claudius, the new king, and the fact that Claudius killed Hamlet's father, King Hamlet, and Hamlet wants revenge. We see emotions and doubts Prince Hamlet has within himself after speaking with the assumed ghost of his father, King Hamlet. Shakespeare shows us these doubts and emotions through foils to Hamlet. A foil is a minor or major character that helps bring out or make stronger the feelings and thought of the major character through not only dialogue but similarities and differences. A very important foil to Hamlet is Horatio because of all that Hamlet confides in him.

We meet Horatio through Hamlet. He is Hamlet's best friend and a fellow student of his whom studied with him at Wittenberg.

The similarities and the differences between Hamlet and Horatio help to show us more of Hamlet's personality and feelings about the revenge of his father's death, one of the main goals of the play. Through Horatio as a foil, we see not only Hamlet's plan for revenge, but also some of his feelings of doubt and confusion with himself of actually being able to follow through with the plans he thought up. We also get to see a lot more of his personality.

As a foil, and because he is a best friend to Hamlet, Horatio can be seen as a way into what Hamlet feels and does being Hamlet confesses to him and trusts him. Horatio is one of the firsts to see the ghost of King Hamlet, and he also informs Hamlet of this...