How is Laertes a foil to Hamlet?

Updated 21 March, 2023
Laertes and Fortinbras both act as foils to Hamlet. Laertes is impulsive, and rash, and seeks revenge for his father's murder without question. In contrast, Hamlet is thoughtful, and hesitant, and spends much of the play questioning the morality of revenge. Similarly, Fortinbras, as a foil to Hamlet, is decisive and seeks revenge for his father's death without hesitation, whereas Hamlet spends most of the play deliberating on whether or not to take revenge.
Detailed answer:

In Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," both Laertes and Fortinbras serve as foils to the main character, Hamlet. Laertes is introduced as a character who is impulsive and quick to act on his emotions, which is in stark contrast to Hamlet's more thoughtful and hesitant nature. When Laertes learns of his father's death, he immediately seeks revenge, while Hamlet struggles with the morality of revenge and spends much of the play deliberating on whether or not to take action.

Fortinbras, as a foil to Hamlet in his decisive and quick actions. Like Laertes, Fortinbras seeks revenge for his father's death, but unlike Hamlet, he does not hesitate to take action. This is evident in Act IV, Scene 4 when Fortinbras says, "Witness this army of such mass and charge, led by a delicate and tender prince, whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed, makes mouths at the invisible event, exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death, and danger dare, even for an eggshell." Fortinbras' willingness to lead an army into battle for such a seemingly trivial reason is a clear contrast to Hamlet's hesitance to take revenge even after learning of his father's murder.

In summary, both Laertes and Fortinbras serve as foils to Hamlet in their contrasting actions and motivations. While Laertes is impulsive and seeks revenge without question, Fortinbras is decisive and quick to take action. These contrasts serve to highlight Hamlet's hesitance and moral ambiguity throughout the pla

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