Hamlet: the Nature of Men
In the Shakespearean play Hamlet, Hamlet, the tragic hero is a very well developed character. Shakespeare elucidates his strengths and weaknesses by contrasting them with those of Fortinbras, Laertes and Horatio. Whereas Fortinbras is determined, Hamlet is indecisive; whereas Laertes is excused for gambling, drinking and whoring, Hamlet condemns any vice; whereas Horatio exhibits balanced behavior, Hamlet is torn between passion and reason. Through these contrasts Hamlet is able to grow and make wiser decisions, using these other men as examples of how, and how not, to act.
Fortinbras is the prince of Norway. His father was killed in a battle with Hamlet Sr., which resulted in a loss of lands. Fortinbras is determined to regain his fathers lands.
Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with the dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother (1.2.17-25).
Fortinbras, sensing that with the death of the king Denmark would be disorganized, has demanded the surrender of the lands lost by his father. He is determined to regain his lands. In contrast Hamlet, who's father was also killed, and who also wants to avenge his father, sits idly by and watches the killer usurp his father's throne, unable to decide when or how to act against the killer.
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous,