Fortinbras had levied an army to attack and conquer Denmark. Though son of the late King of Norway, the crown of Norway had gone to his uncle, just as the crown of Denmark had gone to Hamlet's uncle. This shows that in the world of the play it was not unusual for brothers to late kings to be elected to the throne over the pretensions of their younger nephews. But Fortinbras was not prepared to accept his constitutional dispossession so easily. If he had been deprived of the throne of his father, he would try to conquer a kingdom of his own in which, as he later tells Horatio, he has "some rights of memory."
Fortinbras is not willing to put an end to his military adventures. Desiring to win honor through the sword, he cares not that the prize of his glory is worthless or that he will sacrifice thousands of lives and much wealth for this hollow victory. Like Hamlet, Sr., Fortinbras is an empire builder who desires only to fight for glory and so, in an ironic way, he is fitted by character to inherit the kingdom of Hamlet, Sr.
Laertes is a young man whose good instincts have been somewhat obscured by the concern with superficial appearances which he has imbibed from his father, Polonius. Like his father, Laertes apparently preaches a morality he does not practice and fully believes in a double standard of behavior for the sexes. But if his father allows him these liberties, it is that he may better approximate the manner of a so - called gentleman. More concerned with the outward signs of gentility than with any inner refinement of spirit, Laertes has...