Wondering Why?

Why is Laertes a foil to Hamlet?

Laertes is one of many characters in the popular play called Hamlet.  In this play written by William Shakespeare, Laertes’ character is portrayed as a foil to the main character of Prince Hamlet.  The basic reason for this is that Laertes wanted to seek revenge for his father’s death which was caused by Hamlet himself.

Polonius is Laertes’ father, and he was killed by Prince Hamlet while Laertes was away in France.  By the time Laertes heard the news of his father’s death, he immediately went back to Denmark and literally stormed the castle to confront the supposed killer.  At the time, Laertes thought it was King Claudius who killed his father, but the King himself explained to him that it was Hamlet that was responsible for the tragedy.  And so King Claudius made a deal with both Laertes and Hamlet to have a fencing match to settle their anger for each other.  In the end, both Hamlet and Laertes died from their fencing match with both having asked for forgiveness from each other before their last breaths.

But aside from the obvious anger of Laertes towards Hamlet with regards to the death of his father, he also did not like Hamlet’s relationship with his sister Ophelia.  In this part of the play, Laertes’ character was being portrayed as very protective of his little sister, and he would despise anyone pursuing her, including Hamlet.  In this part of the story, Laertes also proved himself as a foil to Hamlet’s desire to have a relationship with Ophelia.  Aside from Hamlet, Laertes also had other fights with the other men that had relationships with his sister Ophelia.  In fact, many people can also see some kind of incestuous relationship with the way Laertes loves his little sister.  For some fans of the play, Laertes’ love for Ophelia is quite excessive, and this explains why he is very protective of her against Hamlet’s character.

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