In Hamlet, Shakespeare introduces us to Fortinbras and Hamlet. Both characters are bent on avenging the death of their fathers who were murdered. In Act I, two different revenge plots by these two men are revealed, and while Fortinbras is very open and bold about killing Claudius, Hamlet is sly and quiet about his plan. Fortinbras is also dead set on attacking Denmark no matter what but Hamlet is indecisive about killing Claudius. Fortinbras plans to lead an army to attack Denmark while Hamlet’s plan of attack is to act crazy.
Firstly, Fortinbras is very open and bold about avenging his father’s death and killing the new king of Denmark. Everyone knows about his plan to attack Denmark even Horatio, a friend of Hamlet who attends Wittenberg University and just came to Denmark to see the ghost of the dead King Hamlet. He is the first person in Act 1 to talk about Fortinbras and his revenge plans when he says, "Now, Sir, young Fortinbras / Of unimproved metal, hot and full / Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there / Shark’d up a list of lawless resolutes" (Shakespeare I. i. 95-98). Horatio words suggest that everyone knows Fortinbras plan and it is not a secret to anyone in Denmark. Hamlet on the other hand is the polar opposite of this as he is very sly and quiet about his plan to avenge his father’s death. Even when his friends ask him about what the ghost says to him, he does not tell them about what the ghost says or what his revenge plan is. He also tells his own friends to swear to secrecy about seeing the ghost:
Hic et ubique? then we’ll shift our ground.
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands again upon my sword:
Never to speak of this that you have heard,
Swear by my sword. (I.V.157-161)
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... and eventually get what he wants. Fortinbras and Hamlet revenge plans are as different as night and day. While Fortinbras is going on the offense and is leading a group of men to attack Denmark, Hamlet is going on the defence and pretending to be insane.
In conclusion, Shakespeare introduces the reader to two revenge plans by two princes and they cannot be more different. Fortinbras is very bold about his choice of attack and is determined to destroy Denmark and Claudius by using his army whereas Hamlet is sly and indecisive about his plan and acting like a madman to confuse everyone and get the job done easily. Act 1 in Hamlet shows the different revenge plans Fortinbras and Hamlet both have to avenge their fathers’ gruesome death.
Shakespeare, William, Marilyn Eisenstat, and Ken Roy. Hamlet. 2nd ed. Toronto: Harcourt Canada, 2003. Print.
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