In point form, what are 6 similarities between Hamlet’s and young Fortinbras’ circumstances in Hamlet?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While much different in nature from the melancholic Hamlet who deliberates endlessly and is reluctant to take action, Fortinbras, the prince who would sacrifice himself "for an eggshell" does share some commonalities with the Prince of Denmark:

  • Both are the sons of powerful kings who have been slain.  King Fortinbras lost in battle with King Hamlet, who is later killed by Claudius, his brother.
  • Both the young men have their uncles sitting on the throne of their country.
  • Both are sons who have vowed to avenge the deaths of their fathers.
  • Fortinbras is easily incited to fight when his family honor is at stake; likewise, Hamlet is angered and becomes confrontational when his loved ones are threatened. For instance, after his father's ghost appears to him, Hamlet vows revenge. When he perceives that Ophelia is dead, he is greatly agitated. But, Hamlet's emotion is too easily diverted.
  • Hamlet's and Fortinbras's revenges are a form of mourning for the two young men.
  • To find his cue for action, Hamlet must "find quarrel in a  "straw," some little emotion, when honor is at stake; otherwise, he will not act. In Act V, Scene 1, Hamlet leaps into Ophelia's grave, saying

'Swounds, show me what thou'lt do.
Woo't weep? Woo't fight? Woo't fast? Woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up eisel? Eat a crocodile?
I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine?
...I'll rant as well as thou.
[5.1. 274-79, 284]

Similarly, Fortinbras fights "for an eggshell," although he is not so easily distracted from his goals. Nevertheless, he and Hamlet, who declares himself "This is I, Hamlet the Dane," both fight for their honor.

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