Why does Claudius send Cornelius and Voltimand to Norway? (lines 27-39)

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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These two men are found in Act I, Scene 2.

The reason that Claudius is sending them to Norway is to ask the King of Norway for his help.  The King of Norway has a nephew named Fortinbras.  Fortinbras is angry at Denmark because the old king Hamlet killed Fortinbras's father, who was king of Norway.  In order to get revenge, Fortinbras is gathering troops and planning to attack Denmark.

Claudius is sending the two men to tell the King of Norway to get with it and prevent Fortinbras from attacking Denmark.  Here is the relevant passage:

To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress
His further gait herein, in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions are all made
Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,

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