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|Fortinbras is "great"?
Written by Sneha
(6/4/2003 8:10 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Fortinbras, penned by Laraine
In contrast, Fortinbras is like a sinister presence, continually mentioned but never seen until he walks on stage at the end. His claiming of the Danish throne is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable; it represents a return to the warlike state that existed during old King Hamlet's reign. Actually, I consider Fortinbras more villanous than Claudius; Claudius seems to be a good king in that he uses diplomacy rather than warfare (it's Claudius's personal morals that are in question).
Shakespeare is not condoning Fortinbras's actions; he is showing that the "exploring and colonizing" so frequent in the 1600s is not as good as Hamlet's "meditation and thoughts of love" (Act II). However, since _Hamlet_ was Shakespeare's first great tragedy, he was still searching for the answers to the existentialist questions Hamlet poses in the graveyard scene. That's why Hamlet, who should be King of Denmark, succumbs to his passionate side and dies, while Fortinbras comes from nowhere and takes over.
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