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A foil is usually a character having qualities of another character. He points out the characteristics of another character by contrast. In fiction and drama, a foil is a character who plays against a more important character. He makes the more important character confront opposite to his point of view. 

He provides a contrasting set of motives. Thus the foil makes the important character react in a’ manner which might never have been expressed otherwise. He serves a useful function by working against the more folly both to himself and to the reader. For example, a foolish character sets a wise character’s wisdom in a stronger light. 

In Arms and the Man of G.B. Shaw, Louka is a foil to Raina. Sergius is a foil to Bluntschli. He acts as a background to Bluntschli and highlights his realism and other practical qualities. But he is too much of a fool even to serve as a contrast to the brilliant Bluntschli. In Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, Clara Dawes is a foil to Miriam Leivers. 

On the other hand, Baxter Dawes is a foil to Paul Morel who is the hero of the novel. The use of foil in poetry is almost rare. But in modern poetry, such use is seldom found. Fortinbras in Hamlet William plays as a foil to Hamlet. 


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