Shakespeare creates a contrast between the sons.
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Young Fortinbras is considered to be a character foil to Hamlet. 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.Laertes has some of the fire that Hamlet covets but is less in control as Fortinbras. Unlike Hamlet, Laertes is rash. Unlike Fortinbras, Laertes lacks an understanding of direction and power.