Although they share an overwhelming desire to avenge their fatherâ€™s death, Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras are three distinct characters, each possessing motivation unique to their personality. Mysteriously intertwined with one another, these three men cross paths as they seek revenge on their fatherâ€™s assassin. In Bevingtonâ€™s introduction of Hamlet, the rationale behind each manâ€™s philosophy and tactics are discussed as well as contrasted in order to reveal an interesting perception of Hamletâ€™s passivity.
Though he is the son of the King of Norway, Fortinbras is forced to give the crown up to his uncle when the king is killed in battle. Displeased with this situation, Fortinbras decides that if cannot have his fatherâ€™s kingdom, then he will conquer one of his own. â€œFortinbras of Norway, as his name implies (â€œstrong in armsâ€), is one who believes in decisive actionâ€ (Bevington 529). He is determined to conquer through bloodshed and battle and has no concern for the lives and wealth that will be lost for such a vain victory. .
Like Hamlet, Fortinbras is overwhelmed with the desire for glory and vengeance. Although the two men share desire to avenge their fatherâ€™s death as well as the loss of their royal crown, they differ in their rationale. Hamlet admires Fortinbrasâ€™ passion to the point where he berates himself for his inaction, but he also questions Fortinbrasâ€™ reason â€œto gain a little patch of ground/ That hath in it no profit but the name.â€ With his fatherâ€™s murder to avenge, Hamlet cannot relate to such an empty motivation. â€œThe soldiers will risk their lives even for an eggshellâ€ (4.4. 19-54). The two men have both lost their crown to an uncle and their fathers to a violent death, yet the difference in oneâ€™s strategy for revenge is incredibly distinct from the other.