Fortinbras: An Important Character in Hamlet Oftentimes, the minor characters in a play can be vital and, among other things, function to further the action of the play or to reveal and illuminate the personalities of other characters. In Hamlet, Fortinbras, the Norwegian Prince, serves as the most important foil of Hamlet and provides us with the actions and emotions in which we can compare to those of Hamlet and better reveal Hamlet?s own character. Because Hamlet and Fortinbras both lost their fathers and have sworn to avenge their deaths, Fortinbras is a perfect parallel of Hamlet. He was also very crucial to the play?s ending and to bring a remedy to the corruption that has plagued Denmark. Fortinbras father, King of Norway, was killed during battle for control of ?a little patch of ground?(4.4, 19).
Fortinbras? uncle claims the throne of Norway just as Hamlet?s uncle takes the throne at Denmark. The deaths of Hamlet Sr. and Fortinbras Sr. directly link the common destiny of Fortinbras to that of Hamlet, to avenge the death of his father. It is because of this that the two young soldiers can be compared to each other. Fortinbras? taking action after his reasoning is contrasting to Hamlet?s continual lackadaisical steps towards revenge. Hamlet realizes this and comtrasts himself to Fortinbras in his ?How stand I then?(4.4, 59) speech and labels Fortinbras as a man of action and labels himself as a procrastinator whose words lead to no action. Hamlet calls him ?a tender prince?(4.4, 51) after speaking with a captain in his army and hearing of Fortinbras? progress. It is inspiring to Hamlet and it pushes him forward in carrying out his plan to kill Claudius. Hamlet?s last lines, ?How all occasions?my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!?(4.5, 34-69) say that Fortinbras has won him over from any further doubts and Hamlet, too, wishes to become a man of action who is ready to take his revenge at any cost. It can be said that Fortinbras is an energetic leader and soldier with clear intentions from the way he can quickly assemble his men to attack Poland. Although Fortinbras says that Hamlet was a soldier, too, ?and for his passage, the soldier?s music??(5.2, 444-445), the reader sees Hamlet only as a scholar because he seems to only think things out rather than take action. Though, Fortinbras? statement helps us understand that Hamlet was once indeed a good soldier. Scene two of the last act of Hamlet reveals the true character of Fortinbras. After arriving at Elsinore, he immediately acts upon seeing the disturbing scene, much like he acts in battle, ?Let four captains bear Hamlet like a soldier??(5.2, 441-450).
... are completed, either. The central character of Hamlet, however, is one who considers before he acts, and whose actions (and their consequences) are therefore ... the players at the end of Act II, Hamlet confronts his shame at his own deficiency of action, having witnessed an actor more ...
Fortinbras is necessary to the storyline and he is important to the resolution of the corruption in Elsinore Castle, ?Something rotten in Demark?(1.5, 100).
He is needed to correct the corruptness, as he is the only noble left to claim the throne, the task he had ironically set out for, and because he desires to fight for glory and to expand his empire, he is fitted by character to inherit the Kingdom of Sr. Hamlet. This action completes the play and brings all loose ends together.
Bibliography Mowat, Barbara A. Hamlet. Washington Square Press of Pocket Books. New York, NY: 1992.