Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does greed play a role in Hamlet?  

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Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In addition to the comments from the other educators, it is worth recognizing that the feud between Hamlet and Fortinbras originated in the greed of their fathers. In act 1, scene 1, we learn that the former King Hamlet and the old King Fortinbras wagered equal portions of their lands at a duel; they agreed that the winner would walk away with the lands of his adversary. This shows a greedy hunger for expanding the territories on each side of this wager, and when King Fortinbras lost, the former King Hamlet claimed portions of Norway as his own.

Young Fortinbras couldn't let his father's lands simply pass to Denmark without contesting the issue, so he sets out to reclaim this land for Norway. Thus, through greed (and pride), he pits himself against Hamlet, Claudius, and all of Denmark.

Like any loyal son, Hamlet recalls the greatness of his father, yet his father's greed could easily have cost Denmark significant losses through the results of one duel. As Horatio recalls,

Against the which a moiety...

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