Hamlet

Fortinbras Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
The Prince of Norway. A young leader motivated to conquer foreign lands, make a name for himself, and avenge his father’s death at the hands of Hamlet’s own father, Fortinbras is Hamlet’s opposite in every way. Fortinbras’s actions—heard of consistently throughout the play, even though Fortinbras himself is not seen on stage until the final act—serve as barbed reminders to Hamlet of his own stultifying inaction.
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Fortinbras Character Timeline in Hamlet

The timeline below shows where the character Fortinbras appears in Hamlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...the castle. He talks of how the deceased King Hamlet killed the King of Norway, Fortinbras, in a duel—which meant that, according to an agreement between the kings, Denmark absorbed certain... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...Gertrude and become the new king. He tells the court that he is aware of Fortinbras’s designs on Denmark but is not planning on kowtowing to the Norwegians’ demands—Claudius is determined... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...a letter from Claudius. Claudius announces that he has written to the new King of Norway—Fortinbras’s uncle, an “impotent and bedrid” man who has no idea of what his nephew is... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...the latest news from Norway. Voltemand reports that the king has put a stop to Fortinbras’s schemes. Fortinbras has sworn to keep the peace with Denmark, and as a reward for... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Fortinbras and his army arrive at Elsinore. Fortinbras orders the captain of his army to go... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...captain tells Hamlet that the army is marching on to Poland under the command of Fortinbras, though he admits the piece of land they seek to claim is small and worthless.... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...revenge.” Men who don’t think and act are no better than beasts, he believes. Seeing Fortinbras exercise “divine ambition” in commanding and leading a massive army in pursuit of something so... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
...trumpets come through the door. Hamlet asks what’s happening. Osric enters and informs Hamlet that Fortinbras has returned successfully from Poland. Hamlet says, with his dying breath, that Fortinbras should be... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Fortinbras enters the hall with an English ambassador. He is shocked and confused by the bloody,... (full context)
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Fortinbras orders four of his captains to carry Hamlet’s body to a viewing platform. He laments... (full context)