Comparing Hamlet with Fortinbras
Comparing Hamlet with Fortinbras

Comparing Hamlet with Fortinbras

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  • Pages: 5 (2211 words)
  • Published: October 9, 2017
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Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. It tells the story of a young prince, Hamlet, who in a meeting with his father’s ghost uncovers that his uncle murdered his father to become King. The play follows Hamlet as he decides what to do with this knowledge, until he finally avenges his father, but sadly is killed in the process. Interesting comparisons can be made between the main character, Hamlet and, one of the more minor characters, Fortinbras.

In this essay I am going to consider what such comparisons reveal about both characters and the play as a whole.There can be many similarities made between Hamlet and Fortinbras and also some important differences, the most obvious being the length of the role of Hamlet compared to the length of the role of Fortinbras. Whilst the role of Hamlet is Shakespeare’s second longest role out of all his plays, following that of Iago in “Othello,” Fortinbras speaks for a mere twenty-seven lines in two scenes and is mentioned in 3 others. Hamlet and Fortinbras are both princes, Hamlet of Denmark and Fortinbras of Norway.

Both have fathers who have recently died, Fortinbras’, father was killed in a fair duel with Hamlet’s father, over their countries. A poisonous snake supposedly killed Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, but this is just a deception, created by Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius who, in reality, murdered King Hamlet. Claudius then married King Hamlet’s widow, Queen Gertrude and became the new king of Denmark. Meanwhile, in Norway, Fortinbras’ uncle also became kin

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g. This shows significant correlation between Hamlet and Fortinbras; both princes were overlooked as the positions of kings by-passed them.A difference between the families of Hamlet and Fortinbras is the importance of the role of Hamlet’s mother.

We don’t know or hear anything of Fortinbras’ mother, but Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude is without doubt one of the major characters and so plays a part in influencing Hamlet. Maybe this extra female influence is one of the reasons why Hamlet thinks more about his actions, whereas Fortinbras, who for all we know may have little or no female influence, just does things without thinking about them, and also behaves quite violently – both stereotypical male traits.You get the sense that Gertrude and Hamlet were much closer before King Hamlet died, because after the death the swift marriage between Gertrude and Claudius drove a wedge between mother and son. At the beginning of the play Hamlet does not know that his father was murdered, but he disapproves of the marriage between his mother and uncle, so soon after the death of his father, so already he does not particularly like or respect his uncle, Claudius. When Hamlet hears a ghost of his father has been spotted he wants to see it for himself.The ghost tells him that it was murdered, poisoned by Claudius.

However, although Hamlet is angry he decides not to act upon the words of a ghost and so determines to check out the ghost’s reliability. He devises a plan in which he pretends to be mad in attempt to find out all he can about his uncle’s

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deceitfulness. This plan is fairly unsuccessful so when a group of actors arrives at Elsinore Hamlet formulates a new plan. He writes the script to a play, which mirrors the true story of his father’s murder and then requests that the actors perform it.Hamlet intends to discover the truth by watching his uncle’s face as the play unfolds before him. The ghost was proved to be trustworthy.

Now that Hamlet knows for sure that his uncle murdered his father he can act upon his knowledge and seek revenge. Both Hamlet and Fortinbras are at some point seeking revenge, and interestingly both for the deaths of their fathers. Hamlet has a better case for revenge, because his father was murdered by his uncle, whereas Fortinbras’ father was killed fairly, in a duel, against the late King Hamlet, therefore Fortinbras wants revenge on Denmark.Hamlet pursues his revenge sensibly, at first, by testing the words of the ghost with a play. Fortinbras, however, pursues his revenge by raising an army in secrecy to attack Denmark; this is quite an extreme reaction to the situation. Whilst at first Hamlet attempts to resolve his issues peacefully, showing himself as a thoughtful character, who prefers not to resort to violent methods.

Fortinbras tries to avenge the death of his father using violent methods, portraying himself as a character that prefers to take action immediately rather than think things through logically.The main difference between Hamlet and Fortinbras is that Hamlet likes to think and plan his actions, and when he does take action it is to gather information rather than to take revenge, he could be described as a little too hesitant. However, Fortinbras likes to take immediate action, perhaps rushing into situations without thinking through the consequences, he could be described as a little too rash. This is how Horatio describes him: “No, sir, young Fortinbras, Of inapproved mettle hot an full,”This portrays Fortinbras as an impulsive, outgoing type who hasn’t yet been approved of as future king. An interesting similarity between Hamlet and Fortinbras is that both finally achieved the revenge they craved, Hamlet avenged his father; by killing his uncle and Fortinbras becomes king of Denmark, the country that his father died trying to win. Another important difference is that of their occupations.

Whilst Hamlet reads books, learning and thinking about things in a scholarly fashion, Fortinbras is out there in the centre of the action fighting wars.When Hamlet does fight – at the end with Laertes it is for sport rather than because he believes in any particular cause. Fortinbras on the other hand fights seriously, leading an army to gain land for Norway. This matter leads to another contrast in their lifestyles.

Both princes have various conflicts with their uncles. Hamlet clashes with his uncle, Claudius, because he was responsible for the murder of Hamlet’s father. Fortinbras however, quarrels with his uncle about the army, which Fortinbras raised secretly, without the king’s permission, to attack Denmark.Whilst Hamlet kills his uncle, Fortinbras, who up to this point has seemed a fairly violent character resolves issues with his uncle, and comes out the better

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