For what reason does Shakespeare bring Fortinbras in during Act IV, Scene 4?
Remember that Hamletactually starts out as a highly political play. Barnardo and Marcellus and Horatio are all on watch in the opening act. The reason for which Horatio explains that "...young Fortinbras, / Of unimproved mettle hot and full, / Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there / Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes, / For food and diet to some enterprise..." (I.1.95-99). This is the same "enterprise" Hamlet references, himself, in his soliloquy at the end of Act 4, Scene 4. So from a marxist perspective, we have to keep in mind class systems, war, and politics. So that is part of the...
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Fortinbras' achievements serve as a foil to Hamlet's inactivity. Hamlet has failed to complete the revenge that he promised the Ghost in Act 1, despite a lot of time passing and the fact that he has had many chances to commit the deed already. In contrast, Fortinbras has managed to raise an army and is marching into a pointless battle, risking the lives of not only himself but the many men that he has brought with him. To Hamlet, Fortinbras' actions are based upon the defence of honour, and this is something that Hamlet haas failed to accomplish. Fortinbras' care free decision to march to battle contrasts with Hamlet's deep and lengthy thought process regarding the revenge of his father. By introducing Fortinbras at this point, Shakespeare emphasizes the effect that Hamlet's contemplative nature has had on the plot to date, and it also provides contrast for the character of Hamlet