It is natural human instinct for a son to feel offended over the death of his father. So is the instance of the two young princes, both spurned by the sudden death of King Hamlet toward destinies of avenging fallen fathers, which emerge to permit comparisons in Shakespeare's great tragedy Hamlet. In the first act of the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, both are fatherless heirs whose uncles occupy the throne of their respected countries. Both princes seek revenge for the events relating to the death of their fathers while their uncles and kings oppose their nephews, plotting to accomplish their own objectives. However, by what is learned in the brief sidelined accounts of Fortinbras and the center stage antics of Hamlet, it is evident that they have quite different characteristics as well. Although these two princes have similar positions and supreme intentions, the force that drives them, the means of accomplishing their objectives, and outcomes are dissimilar, and display that the prince who follows the advice 'action speaks louder than words' prevails in the end.
Although it is the succession of King in Denmark that ultimately prompt the two princes to avenge their fathers, the unique reasons for taking up such vows are different. By instigating the duel between kings over the titles of conquered lands, King Fortinbras lost his life and thus Norway's holding to the strong arm of King Hamlet, fairly. Consequently, it is upon the Danish King's death that the young Fortinbras takes action toward recovering the honor and lands lost in his father's fated fight. The ambitious Norwegian prince respected the terms of his father's death until the Danish throne change...
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...en. By a direct irrefutable action, Fortinbras lost his father and by use of the same method, he seeks to get even. In like manner, King Hamlet's death by treasonous disguised affliction serves as means of accomplishing Prince Hamlet's objective. In the reasoning of 'an eye for an eye', the avenging princes honor their fathers by pursuing their adversaries using a personification of the weaponry used to kill their fathers.
Bradley, A.C.. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
Danson, Lawrence. "Tragic Alphabet." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Rpt. from Tragic Alphabet: Shakespeare's Drama of Language. N. p.: Yale University Press, 1974.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. T. J. B. Spencer. New York: Penguin, 1996.
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