In Act 2 of Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays Denmark preparing for a potential war with Fortinbras of Norway. Horatio explains that Old Fortinbras was challenged to battle by Old Hamlet, which resulted in the death of the former and the loss of land to Denmark. Young Fortinbras is now coming to Denmark to avenge his father’s death and reclaim the land. In the third scene, Claudius announces his marriage to Gertrude (Old Hamlet’s wife and Hamlet’s mother) and turns mourning into celebration. He also mentions that Fortinbras has written to him, demanding the land King Hamlet won from his father, and sends Cornelius and Voltimand with a message to the King of Norway, Fortinbras’ uncle, to prevent an attack on Denmark. Additionally, Claudius tells Hamlet to stop acting so strangely about his father’s death, calling his grief “unmanly” and making him appear weak and unreasonable. Claudius is portrayed as ambitious, manipulative, and cunning.
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