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For this paper, I have chosen to analyze Act 4, scene 4.
Here is a synopsis of the scene: Fortinbras’s army crosses the stage, and Fortinbras drops a captain off to visit the Danish court. The captain meets Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. Hamlet asks about the army, and the captain says that Norway and Poland are fighting a stupid war over a worthless piece of land. Twenty thousand people are going to get killed over this nonsense. Hamlet says this is the result of rich people not having enough to do, a hidden evil like a deep abscess rupturing into the blood. Alone on stage, Hamlet contrasts himself to Fortinbras. Hamlet has something worth doing that he hasn’t yet done. Fortinbras is busy doing something that isn’t worthwhile. Hamlet reaffirms his bloody intentions.
Upon first reading this scene, I immediately understood that there was a war going on, and people were going to fight for land that wasn’t worth anything to anyone, land that the captain said he himself, even if he’d paid as little as five ducats for it, he wouldn’t farm it.
The captain leaves, and Hamlet is left to think to himself about what is going on around him. He becomes quite introspective, and speaks of man being no good if all he does is eat and sleep, for it makes him just like a beast, “and nothing more.”
In this scene, when Hamlet speaks of his revenge, it makes me question how set on revenge he was before he spoke to Fortinbras. The fact of the matter is, he was on his way to England at the time, and didn’t seem completely sold on the idea until he realized how much death was being caused for no reason, when he felt he had more than ample reason to kill his uncle.
Personally, I understand how coming to such a realization could cause one to say, ‘that’s not right, and if you think so, then what I’m about to do is even more right,” because it happens all the time in society today. Unfortunately for Hamlet, the whole story is a “tragedy.”
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