What is the meaning of Hamlet's soliloquy, "How all occasions do inform..." in act 4, scene 4? 

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Hamlet and Fortinbras are character foils, and part of the purpose of this soliloquy is to highlight the ways they contrast each other. Hamlet learns that Fortinbras is battling over a piece of land that is worth almost nothing—yet he possesses the valor to acquire the land simply because of its name. While Fortinbras leads men to their deaths as if they are headed to bed merely "for a fantasy and trick of fame" (4.4.63), Hamlet sits idly by, a man of inaction and deliberation.

Hamlet considers Fortinbras's charge for new (meager) territory and reflects that God has not given man the ability for great reason so that he can grow stale in his inaction. He knows that he has both the will and the motive to move in action against Claudius. Claudius has given him "examples gross as earth" that call for avenging his father's death.

As he reflects upon his own inaction, he sees Fortinbras as a "tender prince" who has a "divine ambition" and is willing to take risks and mock death itself. He considers Fortinbras a great leader because he is willing to take considerable risk for almost no tangible gain.

Hamlet considers himself greatly dishonored with comparatively rich gains to be acquired by confronting Claudius. He therefore decides to take Fortinbras's lead and hold only "bloody" thoughts as he advances his plans against his uncle.

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Hamlet is reminded by the King of Norway's resolve that he has been cowardly in pursuing his dead father's wishes for revenge regicide against Claudius. The King of Norway has shown, through his determination and desire for honor, that he is indeed kingly. By contrast with Hamlet's lack of resolve, he has made Hamlet realize how difficult all decisions are and yet how important it is that he follow through with his dead father's ghost's request to murder King Claudius. Hamlet berates himself for not using his God-given powers of reason; by not doing so, he wonders if he has sunk into a "bestial oblivion" or if he is plagued by "craven," or cowardly, "scruples." In other words, why can't he just simply kill Claudius the way his father wants him to? Hamlet wonders if he a coward?

In fact, he has killed Polonius and has been acting in such a semi-deranged manner that it is suggested to the audience that his knowledge about his father's murder is causing him to become more than a little insane, though his insanity is a point of strong debate amongst critics. Now, seeing how the King of Norway has the fortitude (a play on the name "Fortinbras," which means "strong arms") to take on a battle for the sake of honor and revenge, Hamlet is shamed into realizing that he must strengthen his resolve, he must focus his thoughts that must become "bloody" and murderous or "be nothing worth," or be worthless.

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Hamlet watches the army of the Norweigan, Fortinbras, and asks a Captain where they are going. The Captain tells him that the Norweigans march to "gain a little patch of ground" which is barely worth five ducats. The army of men are about to pointlessly sacrifice their lives for a seemingly worthless gain. 

Starting from this point, Hamlet's soliloquy considers the way that everything he experiences ("all occasions") seem to point toward the revenge regicide--dulled by inaction, "dull revenge"--that he has thus far been unable to commit against Claudius.

Hamlet ruminates on the nature of humankind's God-given reason and concludes bitterly that he does not know why he remains alive saying that "this thing's to do" but still not doing it, a remark that makes explicit the dichotomy between thought and action that many critics have found in the play as a whole.

As he did in his earlier soliloquy ("Oh what a rogue and peasant slave..."), Hamlet considers that, unlike these soldiers, he has a "great argument" (compelling reason) to carry out his deed of vengeance, but, unlike these men, he seems unable to do it. 

Hamlet's conclusion is that, from this moment forth, "my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth" though we might detect a wry irony of Shakespeare's in the line: Hamlet, who is supposed to be doing has just resolved to think bloodily, rather than act bloodily.

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In Act IV, Scene 4, Hamlet rages against his own ability to seek revenge as the Ghost has urged. He sees the army of Young Fortinbras, who are willing to go to their death "even for an eggshell," and it reminds him of his "dull revenge" and that he has lost his sense purpose.

Hamlet also contemplates the difference between man and beast (animal): If all he is to do is "sleep and feed," then Hamlet feels he is no better than an animal. He must use his ability to think and plan.

The soldiers give him reason to think about his own honor, with "a father kill'd, a mother stained," and this thought rallies him to action: "From this time forth, my thoughts be bloody." This soliloquy, then, refreshes Hamlet's purpose in seeking revenge.

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