We then discussed the role of specific characters, including Fortinbras (the king of Norway), Claudius (the murderer of Hamlet's father), Laertes (who seeks revenge on Hamlet), and Horatio (Hamlet's friend and confidant). We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities.
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Often, however, foils can unearth negative traits in principal characters, showing that the hero is not necessarily heroic, or at least that he has faults.
At the very least, foils function as roadblocks on the protagonist's journey.
A foil is present in literature to contrast the protagonist, or the hero of the story.
Foils do not necessarily have to be antagonists, or villains; rather, they are often secondary characters who bring out something hidden in the protagonist.
The protagonist, Prince Hamlet of Denmark, must find out who killed his father and bring the culprit to justice.
In the background of the play, there has been a long feud between Denmark and Norway, so the latter could be the murderers.
Claudius had hastily married Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, following the death, and had thereby ascended the throne. Yet his path for vengeance is waylaid, time after time, by foils.
These characters not only create conflict in Hamlet's journey but also serve to highlight Hamlet's weaknesses, the negative personality traits that lead to his demise.