Hamlet And Laertes Foils In Hamlet

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It is interesting that a story may contain two foiled characters existing in such a bleak contrast to each other and yet sharing similar events. In William Shakespeare’s tragic masterpiece of Hamlet, the foils are played by Hamlet and Laertes. Hamlet is the contemplative one, and would often think rather than act; Laertes is quite the contrary, having his inhibitions guide him to acting rather than thinking, the impulse buyer of Shakespearean literature. While these characters may differ significantly, their actions and reactions to the death of their fathers, their ultimate downfall, and their alternative methods of action and contemplation prove that while different, much of their character is parallel. The simplest comparison to make is…show more content…
Hamlet is astronomically more thoughtful than Laertes, he thinks far too much before he acts, and it often leaves him with thought, but no action. Laertes is quite the opposite, he decides to act without thinking enough, he is rambunctious though well educated and sophisticated; he acts on internal instinct, and often forgets societal instinct as a means of reasoning. Evident of Hamlet’s ability to think and manipulate the emotions is during scene two of act two when he…show more content…
Through their reactions to death, their own deaths, and their general philosophies on action, it is evident that while foil as they may be, they are ultimately similar. The greatest explanation one could consider is borrowed from the one who bore it first. Aristotle, the great philosopher determined a method of achieving happiness by living in balance. Too much of one thing and not enough of another would only lead to failure and a miserable life. If both Hamlet and Laertes could balance the importance of thought and action, and live in the mean, then they could begin to determine what may have been a more logical step in the pursuit of their goals, however disastrous their end result wished to be. Hamlet is reminiscent of an early Plato, one who claimed that happiness can exist only in one’s thought, while Laertes could be coupled with Alexander the Great, hell-bent on revenge and domination meanwhile maintaining a civilized approach. Accordingly Aristotle is the only one who found balance, and was taught by Plato, and taught Alexander. While Aristotle lived thousands of years before Hamlet and Laertes, much could have been taught to these young men on the value of temperance, and its impact on the plot could have been
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