Hamlet Playwrite: William Shakespeare Sample Essay

Frequently. the minor characters in a drama can be critical and. among other things. map to foster the action of the drama or to uncover and light the personalities of other characters. To assist the reader understand a character with greater deepness. authors sometimes use a literary device called a foil. A foil is a character that contrasts strongly with another. In Shakespeare’s great calamity Hamlet. Laertes. Fortinbras. and Hamlet find themselves in similar state of affairss. While Hamlet delaies for the right clip to revenge his father’s decease. Laertes learns of his father’s decease and instantly wants retribution. and Fortinbras awaits his opportunity to recapture land that used to belong to his male parent. Although Laertes and Fortinbras are minor characters. “Shakespeare molds them in order to contrast with Hamlet” ( “Foils in Hamlet” ) . Fortinbras and. to a greater extent. Laertes act as foils to Hamlet with regard to their motivations for retaliation. executing of their programs. and behaviour while transporting out their programs.

Fortinbras. who schemes to reconstruct his father’s land. leads 1000s of work forces into conflict. trying to capture a little and worthless piece of Poland. after his uncle warned him against assailing Denmark. The added land will make little to profit Norway’s prosperity. but this run may be “two thousand psyches and 20 thousand ducats” ( IV. four. 26 ) . This shows that “pride is a impulsive factor behind Fortinbras’ plan” ( Wilson 34 ) because he is willing to set the lives of his compatriots at hazard for a minimum addition. Laertes. on the other manus. is compelled to seek retaliation because he loses his male parent and finally his sister. “The root of Laertes’ retaliation appears to be the love for his family” ( Prosser 52 ) because he proclaims that he will “be revenged / Most throughly for [ his ] father” ( IV. v. 153-154 ) . This shows that Laertes will either revenge his father’s decease or decease seeking. While Fortinbras and Laertes are driven by pride and love. Hamlet seems to move out of despair. His uncle. Claudius. has killed his male parent. taken the throne. and married his female parent. This leaves Hamlet “feeling as if his universe has been crushed” ( Eliot 97 ) . By killing Claudius. Hamlet would non merely revenge his father’s decease. but besides dethrone a liquidator and reconstruct some order to his universe.

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In add-on to each character’s motivation. Shakespeare uses imagination and allusion to light differences in character traits. Shakespeare hints about the nature of Fortinbras merely by taking this name. The name “Fortinbras is really similar to fortitude” ( Clemen 231 ) . which is soundness of the head. Fortinbras fulfills this description when he persists in seeking to repossess land by assailing Poland. Alternatively of giving up on repossessing his father’s land. when his uncle tells him non to assail Denmark. he sticks to his program by taking a piece of Poland. The name Laertes is besides important because in Greek mythology. “Laertes was the male parent of Odysseus and helped his boy reclaim the throne” ( Eagleson 68 ) . This implies that Laertes will take action if necessary. Shakespeare besides compares Laertes to the image of a tidal moving ridge when he returns from France in order to demo that Laertes is unfaltering in his determinations as is a tidal moving ridge in its class. In contrast to Fortinbras and Laertes. Hamlet feels overpowered by his undertaking. which makes him indecisive. Shakespeare extends the symbol of H2O ; nevertheless. in Hamlet’s instance. “it accentuates his feeling of helplessness” ( Lavender 87 ) . When Hamlet is sing taking action against Claudius. he mentions that this would be “ [ taking ] weaponries against a sea of troubles” ( III. I. 67 ) . This demonstrates the overpowering futility Hamlet feels about his undertaking.

Since Fortinbras and Laertes are committed to accomplishing their aims. they allow others to act upon their determinations whereas Hamlet acts entirely one time he commits himself to killing Claudius. Initially. Fortinbras wants to assail Denmark in order to recover his father’s land. The prince of Norway. nevertheless. “makes vow before his uncle ne’er more / To give th’ check of weaponries against [ Denmark ] ” ( II. two. 74-75 ) . In his effort to recover his father’s land. Fortinbras allows himself to be manipulated by his uncle. Laertes besides allows himself to be manipulated by Claudius when he returns from France. Claudius stirs Laertes’ choler by inquiring him “what [ he would ] undertake / To demo [ himself ] so [ his ] father’s boy / More than in words? ” ( IV. seven. 141-143 ) . Laertes becomes so determined to seek retaliation on Hamlet that he listens to Claudius and. accordingly. “becomes his pawn” ( “The Male Leads” ) . Hamlet. on the other manus. is in control of his state of affairs. Although he acts brainsick at points. Hamlet is cognizant of the events happening around him. This “awareness causes him to analyse every facet of killing Claudius” ( “The Hamlet Site” ) . which keeps him from taking action Oklahoman.

When Hamlet is speaking with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. he admits that “there is / nil either good or bad but believing makes it / so” ( II. two. 268-270 ) . This illustrates that Hamlet realizes the chief ground he is holding reserves about killing Claudius is due to his ongoing idea on the topic. In one of his monologues. Hamlet realizes this once more and comments. “conscience does do cowards ( of us all ) ” ( III. I. 91 ) . This shows that Hamlet knows he over analyzes each state of affairs and that he can non move in a minute. which causes him to set off killing Claudius until the really terminal of the drama. “Hamlet hopes that by seting off his undertaking it will travel away” ( Weitz 39 ) . and he reveals this after he talks with the captain in Fortinbras’ ground forces: “How all occasions inform against me / And spur my dull retaliation! ” ( IV. four. 34-35 ) . By saying this. Hamlet intimations that he has thought about his retaliation so much that he merely wishes the issue would travel off. yet he knows he must follow through.

Another country in which Fortinbras and Laertes contrast Hamlet is in the manner they treat the attackers of their male parents. Fortinbras alerts the Danes of his purposes before the drama because. in the first act. the Danes cognize he is fixing an onslaught. “Fortinbras is besides really unfastened about his programs when he and Hamlet converse” ( Wilson 73 ) as Hamlet leaves for England. Laertes. who is really straightforward with Hamlet. informs Hamlet that he wants retaliation merely before they duel. saying that he is “satisfied in nature. / Whose motivation in this instance should stir [ him ] most / To [ his ] revenge” ( V. ii. 259-261 ) . Laertes claims he will set off his retaliation for the clip being. yet he will still seek it however. Fortinbras and Laertes are in contrast to Hamlet in these cases because they both “declare their retaliation. whereas Hamlet is much more close about his plans” ( Prosser 164 ) . Alternatively of declaring his retaliation to Claudius. Hamlet uses a series of wordplaies to demo his defeat and choler with the male monarch. When Hamlet feels that Claudius is acquiring excessively near to him. Hamlet uses his humor as ego defence to maintain Claudius in cheque and tells him that he is “more than kin. and less than kind” ( I. two. 67 ) . Hamlet uses many other wordplaies to convey his “antic disposition” ( I. v. 192 ) every bit good as to maintain his programs of killing Claudius secret.

Merely as Fortinbras and Hamlet contrast in many other respects. “they are opposites with regard to their values and morals” ( “Foils in Hamlet” ) . In this instance. nevertheless. Laertes exhibits some ethical motives that are similar to Hamlet’s. Shakespeare portrays Fortinbras as being concerned with material ownership in the drama. The Norse prince seems determined to construct up his land no affair what the cost. Fortinbras besides displays that “he has no respect for the tragedy” ( Lavender 91 ) that merely unfolded before his reaching in the last scene of the drama. He instantly asserts his power. claiming he “ [ has ] some rights of memory in [ the ] land. / Which now to claim [ his ] vantage doth invite [ him ] ” ( V. ii. 432-433 ) . In this scene. Fortinbras claims the throne in forepart of Horatio. who has merely seen his friend and many others die. which shows that he has no regard for the recent deceases.

Laertes on the other manus. displays a few more ethical motives than Fortinbras. but he. excessively. acts maliciously at times. Once Laertes realizes he is wounded and poisoned. he forgives Hamlet and asks Hamlet for forgiveness: “Exchange forgiveness with me. baronial Hamlet / Mine and my father’s decease semen non upon thee. / Nor thine on me” ( V. ii. 361-333 ) . Once Laertes sees how Claudius manipulated him and recognizes he will decease from the toxicant. Laertes shows his ethical motives by forgiving Hamlet and inquiring for his forgiveness. Laertes besides harbors a dark side. which he displays when he wishes to “cut [ Hamlet’s ] pharynx i’ th’ church” ( IV. seven. 144 ) . This brings into inquiry Laertes’ ethical motives because “a slaying in a church would be one of the most blasphemous Acts of the Apostless possible” ( Levi 49 ) .

Hamlet is the character that the audience wants to wish and sympathise with in the beginning of the drama ; nevertheless. they find it difficult because he lacks some ethical motives and values. merely as Laertes and Fortinbras do. Shakespeare opens the drama with events “swirling like a maelstrom” ( “Much Ado about Hamlet: A Study in Shakespeare” ) around Hamlet in order to make understanding for the Danish prince. Hamlet. nevertheless. shows a deficiency of values when he slanders Ophelia in the drama scene. He continues this behaviour when he delays killing Claudius. who appeared to be praying. because that would direct his psyche to Heaven. Although this sounds undistinguished. Hamlet is “playing God” ( Eliot 98 ) because he is finding the finish of Claudius’ psyche. Possibly the most blazing show of Hamlet missing ethical motives comes when he returns from England and informs Horatio that he switched the letters so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be put to decease upon geting in England. These work forces used to be Hamlet’s friends. yet he seals their destiny within a missive without a 2nd idea.

In the calamity Hamlet. William Shakespeare uses the characters of Fortinbras and Laertes to contrast with Hamlet throughout the drama. “Laertes and Fortinbras are by no agencies indistinguishable to Hamlet. but their state of affairss are adequate analogue to Hamlet’s that the reader is caught by the contrast in their responses to their problems” ( “Foils in Hamlet” ) . While Hamlet takes his clip. carefully be aftering his moves. Laertes and Fortinbras act in hastiness. This leads Laertes and Fortinbras to be manipulated by others. but since Hamlet is close about his programs and thinks everything through. he does non go a pawn. By holding Laertes and Fortinbras contrast with Hamlet so much. Shakespeare is able to foreground Hamlet’s failings and strengths. The reader understands Hamlet. the royal hero of the drama. better when reminded what the prince might hold done had he been less concerned about acting uprightly and moderately in a universe that harmonizing to the drama is absurd.

Plants Cited

Bradley. A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Hamlet. Othello. King Lear. Macbeth. New York:

Meridian Books. 1955.

Clemen. W. H. “The Imagery of Hamlet. ” Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. New York:

Oxford University Press. 1957: 222-236.

Eagleson. Robert D. . erectile dysfunction. A Shakespeare Glossary. New York: Oxford University


Eliot. Thomas Stearns. “Hamlet and His Problems. ” The Sacred Wood. London: Methuen. 1920:


“Foils in Hamlet. ” 12 May 2000.

hypertext transfer protocol: //www. geocities. com/vince_escanlar/hamlet. hypertext markup language & gt ; ( 28 Oct. 2001 ) .

“The Hamlet Site. ” 25 April 1999.

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Lavender. Andy. Hamlet in Pieces. London: Nick Hern Books. 2001.

Levi. Peter. The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. New York: Henry Holt and

Company. 1988.

“The Male Leads. ” 7 Nov. 1999.

hypertext transfer protocol: //www. mtsn. org. uk/staff/staffpages/cer/hamlet/Horatio_etc. hypertext markup language & gt ; ( 8 Oct. 2001 ) .

“Much Ado about Hamlet: A Study in Shakespeare. ” 2 Feb. 1999.

hypertext transfer protocol: //copper. ucs. Indiana. edu/~ammckee/shake-0. hypertext markup language & gt ; ( 27 Dec. 2000 ) .

Prosser. Eleanor. Hamlet and Revenge. London and Stanford: Oxford UP. 1967.

Shakespeare. William. Hamlet. New York: Washington Square Press.


Weitz. Morris. Hamlet and the Philosophy of Criticism. London: Faber & A ; Faber. 1972.

Wilson. John Dover. What Happens in Hamlet. New York: Macmillan. 1936.


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