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 thepersonalities of other characters.
In Hamlet, Fortinbras, the Norwegian Prince,serves as the most important foil of Hamlet and provides us with the actions andemotions in which we can compare to those of Hamlet and better reveal Hamletsown character. Because Hamlet and Fortinbras both lost their fathers and havesworn to avenge their deaths, Fortinbras is a perfect parallel of Hamlet. He wasalso very crucial to the plays ending and to bring a remedy to the corruptionthat has plagued Denmark. Fortinbras father, King of Norway, was killed duringbattle for control of a little patch of ground(4.4, 19). Fortinbrasuncle claims the throne of Norway just as Hamlets uncle takes the throne atDenmark. The deaths of Hamlet Sr.
and Fortinbras Sr. directly link the commondestiny of Fortinbras to that of Hamlet, to avenge the death of his father. Itis because of this that the two young soldiers can be compared to each other.Fortinbras taking action after his reasoning is contrasting to Hamletscontinual lackadaisical steps towards revenge. Hamlet realizes this andcomtrasts himself to Fortinbras in his How stand I then(4.4, 59) speechand labels Fortinbras as a man of action and labels himself as a procrastinatorwhose 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 tokill Claudius. Hamlets last lines, How all occasionsmy thoughts bebloody or be nothing worth!(4.
5, 34-69) say that Fortinbras has won him overfrom any further doubts and Hamlet, too, wishes to become a man of action who isready to take his revenge at any cost. It can be said that Fortinbras is anenergetic leader and soldier with clear intentions from the way he can quicklyassemble his men to attack Poland. Although Fortinbras says that Hamlet was asoldier, too, and for his passage, the soldiers music(5.2, 444-445),the reader sees Hamlet only as a scholar because he seems to only think thingsout rather than take action.
Though, Fortinbras statement helps us understandthat Hamlet was once indeed a good soldier. Scene two of the last act of Hamletreveals the true character of Fortinbras. After arriving at Elsinore, heimmediately acts upon seeing the disturbing scene, much like he acts in battle,Let four captains bear Hamlet like a soldier(5.2, 441-450).
Fortinbrasis necessary to the storyline and he is important to the resolution of thecorruption in Elsinore Castle, Something rotten in Demark(1.5, 100). He isneeded to correct the corruptness, as he is the only noble left to claim thethrone, the task he had ironically set out for, and because he desires to fightfor glory and to expand his empire, he is fitted by character to inherit theKingdom of Sr. Hamlet.
This action completes the play and brings all loose endstogether.BibliographyBibliography Mowat, Barbara A. Hamlet.
Washington Square Press of Pocket Books.New York, NY: 1992.Shakespeare