The literary critic, Norman Holland, considers Horatio the Man of thought, Fortinbras, the man of action and Hamlet, the man of thought and action. Holland states: "At the end of the play, the man of thought and the man of action stand facing each other, separated, divided; between them lies the man who was both, a failure precisely because he was both." Holland's characterization and analysis of Horatio and of Fortinbras is hardly groundbreaking and is easily supported by the text of the play. Holland's analysis of Hamlet, however, is thought provoking and begs further investigation. Hamlet is undoubtedly a man of thought as well as a man of action. The words of Holland that are hard to swallow are: "a failure precisely because he was both". How was this combination Hamlet's tragic flaw? How did these traits directly lead to Hamlet's downfall?.
Apparent from the opening scene of the play is that Fortinbras, as a man of action, is valiantly avenging his father's death. "Now, sir, young, Fortinbras, /Of unimproved mettle hot and full, / Hath in the skirts of Norway . / Which no other than to recover of us, by strong hand/ And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands/ So by his father lost." (1.1. 107-116) Later in the play, Fortinbras" zealousness when honor is at stake becomes clear and is a source of inspiration to Hamlet. Hamlet, in response to hearing of Fortinbras" conquest of a worthless patch of land, reacts: "Witness this army of such mass and charge, / Led by a delicate and tender prince, / Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed / But greatly to find quarrel in a straw/ When honor's at stake." (Act.4.4.50-59) Hamlet, while praising Fortinbras" spirit, brings under scrutiny Fortinbras" intentions, and motives. Fortinbras" conquest was unfounded in reason and was emotionally and egotistically driven. As in Hamlet's reaction: "The imminent death of twenty thousand men/ That for fantasy and trick of fame/ Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot/ Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause," (Act.