Who are Hamlet's foils, and in what ways do their characters shed light on his?  

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A foil is a character that highlights qualities present in a character by having or showing contrasting qualities and characteristics. A foil is a useful way to show what a character is by showing what that character most definitely is not. In Hamlet, a standard foil discussion usually involves discussing Fortinbras and Laertes. The main gist of that discussion is that both of those men need to avenge their fathers, and both take big, definitive, action-oriented steps to make that happen. This is contrasted to Hamlet, who also is also pressured to avenge his father but vacillates excessively throughout the play in his resolve.

Another possible angle to go with this question is to say that Hamlet and Claudius are foils. For example, Claudius is wonderful at manipulating people. It's what makes him such an effective politician: he knows how to manage people. (Granted, his methods leave much to be desired.) He's quite good at deception and fakery. Claudius is also good at handling pressure and making...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 760 words.)

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