Who Can Save Denmark? Essay, Research Paper
Often in literature, minor characters in a play can be essential in bringing the main characters to where we can understand them. They also push or pull major characters into actions or decisions that affect the rest of the play. Plus they reveal the emotions and personalities of other characters because they give us someone to compare and contrast the characters with. 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 with Hamlet to illuminate better 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 is very crucial to the play?s ending and to bring a remedy to the corruption that has plagued Denmark. Fortinbras father, King of Normandy, 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 of Denmark. The deaths of Hamlet Sr. and Fortinbras Sr. directly link the common destiny of Fortinbras to that of young 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 sidestepping towards revenge. Hamlet realizes this and contrasts 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 man whose words lead to a man of thinking. Hamlet calls him ?a tender prince?(4.4, 51) after speaking with a captain in his army and hearing of Fortinbras? progress with his army. It inspires Hamlet and pushes him forward in carrying out his plan to avenge his father by murdering Claudius. Hamlet?s lines about his thoughts being blood or nothing say that he has been won over by Fortinbras? idea and is ready to become a man of action who at any cost is ready to extract revenge.
It can be said that Fortinbras is an energetic leader and soldier with clear intentions and determination from the way he clearly thinks things through and acts just as quickly to assemble men to attack Poland. Although Fortinbras says that Hamlet was a soldier by ordering captains to carry him out and to fire the cannons in his honor. Scene two of the final act of Hamlet reveals Fortinbras? true character.
After arriving in Denmark and coming upon the murder scene, he acts quickly after thinking clearly, much as he would act in battle. Fortinbras is necessary to the storyline, and he is important to the resolution to end the corruptness in Denmark, since he is the only noble left to claim the throne, the task he set out from Norway to accomplish, ironically. He is entitled by character to inherit the Kingdom of Hamlet Sr.
Fortinbras is the exact opposite of Hamlet in the same situation and by reading this the audience learns more about Hamlet and the way he thinks. By Fortinbras not being a major character and allowing the reader to contrast him with Hamlet, we realize that Fortinbras? actions invoke a response in Hamlet which would not have come about with Fortinbras in the story. So without Fortinbras, Hamlet would not have returned to the castle to murder Claudius.