Compare and contrast Hamlet and Fortinbras in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. How are the two figures alike? How are they different?
The tense atmosphere at the beginning of the play is explained by Horatio as being due principally to the Danish fear of young Fortinbras "Of unimproved mettle hot and full" attacking to recover the lands his father lost. He is therefore quickly established as a contrast and a foil to Hamlet, in a similar position but of a very different temperament: hot-headed yet determined.
Hamlet himself contrasts the two of them when he sees Fortinbras making ready "to go gain a little patch of ground." He describes Fortinbras satirically:
Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger dare,
Even for an egg-shell.
But there is some admiration in his satire , and the contrast is ultimately to Fortinbras's advantage. If it is faintly ridiculous that the Norwegian prince will do all this "for an egg-shell," it is worse than ridiculous that...
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