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Comparing Hamlet with Fortinbras

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Hamlet Coursework 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. ...read more.


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 for it, with permission to attack some region of Poland. Both princes have their own secrets. Hamlet carries the knowledge of his murdered father and Fortinbras bears the secret of his army. Although Hamlet and Fortinbras never actually meet you can tell that they respect one another, for instance, at the end of the play Fortinbras says: "Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage; For he was likely, had he been put on, To have proved most royally." This proves that Fortinbras believes Hamlet would have made a good king, and so carries a certain admiration for him. Hamlet feels the same way or he would not have put forwards Fortinbras' name as the next king of Denmark. "Hamlet: But I do prophesy th' election lights On Fortinbras. ...read more.


- such a sight as this Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss." This shows that despite the sight of death and destruction Fortinbras is keeping his head and acting with respect. In contrast, one of the last things we see of Hamlet is when he murders his uncle, which I suppose is understandable under the circumstances, but is a bit of an inappropriate action for a man who is about to assume the role of king. At first glance you may not notice any explicit similarities between Hamlet and Fortinbras, but as we can see, with a closer look there are several conclusions we can draw. For one, I think that the death of both princes' fathers gives them common ground, but leads to the very different ways in which they each go about handling their grief. Also, a factor which is bound to affect their actions is that they have both been overlooked as future kings. I believe that Shakespeare must have intentionally made the character of Fortinbras partially reflect that of Hamlet, but their very different personalities and ways in which they develop throughout the story gives each character enough personal traits to make them appear individual. ...read more.

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