At its simplest, a dramatic foil is someone or something in a piece of literature that serves as a contrast to another. As with many literary techniques, while the idea behind a foil is simple, the execution can be anything but. Writers from Shakespeare to Mary Shelley have used the concept to help define their protagonists by comparing them to other characters that surround them. Harry Potter is filled with them, for crying out loud.
What about Star Trek? The entire franchise consists of 726 episodes, spread across thirty seasons and six series. That’s a lot of writing, so surely there must be the use of a dramatic foil in there somewhere. Of course there is. Given that the dramatic foil is a commonly used device by franchise writers, watching just a few episodes of any of the Star Trek series reveals several of them. There is one pair that stands out in my mind: Captain Sisko and Gul Dukat. Continue reading