In act 4, scene 4 of Hamlet, as the protagonist, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern are crossing a plain on the way to their ship, they meet the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras, who is leading a detachment to attack Poland.
When they depart, Hamlet, in soliloquy, again verbally flays himself for his cowardice in the long-delayed revenge of his father's murder.
Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event,
A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward, I do not know
Why yet I live to say "This thing's to do ..." (Lines 41–47)
The reckless courage of the young Fortinbras, about to launch an attack to gain a nearly worthless piece of ground, puts him to shame.
Examples gross as earth exhort me:
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. (49–56)
Yet, Hamlet says, with an infinitely greater motive, I have done nothing.
How stand I then,
That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep? (59–62)
In the final words of the soliloquy, he makes an enraged vow of revenge.
O, from this time forth,
My thought be bloody, or be nothing worth! (68–69)
While he apparently seemed to be complying with the wishes of Claudius on what promised to be a long, final voyage to England, the audience now knows that Hamlet is more than ever bent on retaliation. And, well aware that Hamlet is wise to his nefarious "friends" but that they are no match for him, the audience now feels that his return is likely to be swifter and more deadly than Claudius expects.