act 4 scene 4
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Hamlet meets the Captain of the Norwegian forces on his way to his England bound ship. Here he learns that young Fortinbras is heading over to sack Poland. The Captain informs the only reason they are going to attack Poland is because it is there and the "Polack" will fight to defend it. The country, according to the Captain, is a worthless piece of land. Hamlet is impressed that Fortinbras is such a "he man" ready to risk lives simply for a fight. He wishes he wasn't such a coward over something that has really insulted him. Hamlet resolves to be a "tough man" just like his hero Fortinbras. Hamlet launches into a self deprecating rant about how much of a coward he is. He is impressed by Fortinbra's aggression over a "straw" and laments his own inaction over feeling personally used and insulted.
"How stand I then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men"
Thus both characters become foils for each other. Fortinbras is a hyper-masculine war hero and Hamlet is an over thinking coward.