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Next we see Fortinbras’ Norwegian army. They are at the borders of Denmark. Fortinbras sends one of his captains to the court of Claudius to ask permission to cross Denmark in the course of their march to Poland. The captain travels on and Fortinbras and the rest of the army exit. The captain meets with Hamlet, who is being conveyed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the ship to England. Hamlet asks the captain about his army and his purpose in going to Poland. The captain says that in Poland there is “a little patch of ground” which Norway claims as her own. He describes this land as perfectly worthless and small. Hamlet suggests that the Poles will not likely defend such a piece of land, but the captain sets him straight, saying that Poland is already garrisoned and ready for their dispute. Hamlet wraps up his conversation with the captain. He hangs back from the others marching to the ship and delivers a long soliloquy on the irony of this occasion – these men are off to risk their lives for a worthless piece of land, while he, who has every reason to risk his life in the cause of revenge, delays and fails to act. Hamlet resolves to recast his mind to bloody thoughts. Ironically, however, just after making this resolution he continues on toward England, leaving Denmark behind him.
medal if this helped
How did this connect with the elizabethan audience?