A foil is another character in a story who contrasts with the main character, usually to highlight one of their attributes.

In the popular book series, Harry Potter, the character of Hogwarts principal Albus Dumbledore, who portrays ‘good’, is constantly shown to believe in the power of true love (of all forms and types) and is portrayed as a strong, benevolent and positive character while the antagonist Lord Voldemort, who depicts the evil and ‘bad’ in the series is constantly shown to mock and disbelieve the sentiment of love and think of it as a foolish indulgence, a trait that is finally his undoing.

5 thoughts on “Foil”

  1. Braveheart and foils
    Foil, in my opinion, is an analytic/text-generative device. All the main characters in Braveheart can be seen as foils for William Wallace.

    King longshanks is evil, Wallace good.
    Prince Edward is feeble, Wallace heroic.
    Robert the Bruce is doubtful, Wallace believes.
    Bruce’s father is cynical, Wallace loving.
    Hamish is short-tempered, Wallace calm.
    Isabella is feminine, Wallace masculine.
    The nobles are petty, avaricious, and impotent, Wallace grand, charitable, and resolute.
    The English soldiers are lustful, Wallace chaste.

    In short: Wallace represents perfect virtue, and all the other characters contrast with each their own version of sin (we might say that Wallace represents the seven virtues and all the other characters one of the seven sins).
    A very nice composition, in my opinion: My only objection would be that maybe it’s a little bit too nice, I mean, it makes Wallace come across as almost divine.
    – but then again, I’m quite sure that that is (also) very deliberate, as I think the story is (really) about…
    … Jesus. 😉


    The long and the short of it is:

    I love that film. 😀

  2. The Great Gatsby?
    At first I thought that Gatsby is Tom’s foil, but now I’m thinking something like Nick’s foil is everyone because most of the characters are terrible people. I’m probably overthinking this but if someone could clarify that would be extremely helpful.

  3. Anakin “Darth Vader” Skywalker’s son Luke is a foil of him and visa versa. Also a Foil may be an antithesis character, a supporting character or an intimate counterpart.

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