Hamlet: Horatio – A Man of Thought, Fortinbras – A
Man of ActionIn the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare proposed two kinds of men. Horatio is
the character who represents a man of thought. The other kind of man is
represented by Fortinbras, a man of action. Hamlet is the character that
manages to be both, thought and action. Hamlet failed to avenge his father’s
death because he was both. According to Shakespeare in the play Hamlet, a man
could not succeed if ge was both action and thought. The most evident man of
thought in the play was Horatio. Horatio sees the world with the eyes of a
scholar and views things in a logical manner. Horatio sees the ghost and
Hamlet says ” There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are
dreamt of in your philosophy” (1.5.166-168). This reveals Horatio’s attitude to
the audience. It shows that Horatio only believes in what scholars say. Study
is his only purpose I life. He is admired and used by others for his knowledge,
The audience becomes aware of this admiration when the soldiers use Horatio
the speak with the ghost. Marcellus says “Thou art a scholar; speak to it,
Horatio” ( 1.1.42). The soldiers need Horatio because he is an educated
man. As a man of thought Horatio has a significant role in helping society.
Fortinbras is a man of action. He takes action before he thinks about the
consequences of his actions. The king is making use of these characteristics
when he says “we have to writ to Norway, uncle of young FortinbrasWho impotent
and bed-rid, scarcely hears of his nephew’s purpose to suppress his further
gait” (1.2.29-32). In this quote the king has stopped Fortinbras’ invasion of
Denmark. The king was able to do this because Fortinbras didn’t consider what
would happen if His uncle found out. Another quotation showing Fortinbras’
action without thought is made by Hamlet. Hamlet has just learned of the
invasion of Poland led by Fortinbras. When Hamlet says “The imminent death of
twenty thousand men, that for a fantasy and trick of fame” (44.60-61) he is
stating the consequences of Fortinbras’ actions.
Hamlet is saying that many men will die just so Fortinbras can be famous.
Fortinbras is the character who best represents a man of action in this play.
The hero of the play, Hamlet, Is a man of both action and thought. The cause
of Hamlet’s failure is being a man of both. Hamlet is aware that his thinking
is getting in the way of his revenge. He tells the audience this when he says
“thus conscious does make cowards of us all” (3.1.83). Hamlet also has a
dilemma because when he acts without thought , the consequences are severe One
example of this is the death of Polonius. In the scene where Polonius, Hamlet
acts without thinking and accidentally kills Polonius. The queen sums up the
Situation when she says “O’ what a rash and bloody deed this is!” (3.4.27).
Just thought alone doesn’t work for Hamlet because he is also a man of action.
When he uses too much thought he becomes frustrated. A quote showing this is “
Promoted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart
with words” (2.2.620-621). Thought serves to delay action with Hamlet and
defeat his purpose. In act three Hamlet has thought so much, he needs the
ghost of his father to spur him into action again. The ghost says “This
visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose” (3.4.110-111) to get
Hamlet to revenge him. Hamlet is always looking for more proof before he acts.
He reveals this need to the audience when he says “I’ll have grounds More
relative than this” (2.2.639-640). The action serve to cancel one another and
only confuse young Hamlet. As a man of thought and action, Hamlet is a failure
in his quest to revenge his father’s murder.
Through out the whole play Hamlet, there are two kinds of men. Horatio
is a man of thought who rarely acts, but is effective and has a has a place in
society as a man of thought. The man of action is Fortinbras who, unlike
Horatio, acts without thinking as to the consequences of his actions. The main
character of the play, Hamlet, was a man of both thought and action. Hamlet
was a failure because he was both. In the play Hamlet, it is shown that it is
okay to be a man of thought or a man of action, but to be both is