The Foils of Hamlet

Literary techniques evoke images, emotion and in the case of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" teach a lesson. The dominant literary technique ongoing throughout "Hamlet" is the presence of foils. A foil is a character who, through strong contrast and striking similarities, underscores the protagonist's distinctive characteristics. Hamlet shares many distinct characteristics and situations with both Laertes, son of the slain Polonius, and Fortinbras, son of the slain King of Norway. However, the three sons of murdered fathers all see their own situation differently and attempt to even the score' in different manners. Shakespeare uses the similarities and differences between the foils to accentuate the alternate routes Prince Hamlet could have taken in his quest for revenge.

After the death of King Hamlet, the Queen Gertrude and the king's younger brother Claudius marry hastily(1.2.1-13). Because Prince Hamlet has yet to return from school to take the throne, Claudius declares himself King. Grief-stricken, Hamlet does not protest but rather sulks in the very thought that his mother would be involved in such an incestuous relationship. When Hamlet learns that his father did not die of natural causes, but...

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