Fortinbras: “Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king
Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promised march
Over his kingdom.”
Hamlet Act 4 Scene 4.
Act 4 Scene 4. Macbeth had it in for the King of Scotland. Iago had it in for Othello. Shylock had it in for Antonio. Cassius had it in for Julius Caesar. Henry Bolingbroke had it in for Richard II. Richard III had it in for the Princes in the Tower. Hamlet had it in for Claudius. Claudius had it in for Hamlet. And Fortinbras had it in for the Poland.
Some years ago, before he was Norway and had the responsibilities of a future king, Fortinbras was a young rake, free and loose and on the prowl. He would have made a perfect student for Falstaff because he loved to carouse more than Hal ever did. Then he saw her, the Polish king’s daughter. She saw him. They were instant smitten with each other.
Fortinbras went to the king and pleaded for the girl’s hand. The king said no. “I’d rather she marry a bear than a Northman.”
Poland locked his daughter up in a tower, safely away from the riff-raff. He had a husband in mind for her. A man who would make a strong ally. Ivan the Terrible. Mostly Poland wasn’t looking for Ivan as an ally. He was downright scared of the dude. He’d seen the heads hanging from the walls of Ivan’s castle and heard the screams from the Russian’s dungeons. So it sounded like a real good idea to keep Ivan on his good side.
The thing was that no ruler would last more than two weeks with a name like Ivan the Pussycat. And Ivan was a real pussycat. Scared of his own shadow.
Ivan had this henchman, Rasputin. Raspy convinced Ivan that he had to do something to scare the bejesus out of everybody. To do this, Raspy ordered some fake heads off Amazon and a sound effects record of lots of screaming. Raspy’s plan worked. Everybody thought the paraphernalia was real. Unfortunately they scared the you-know-what out of Ivan too.
Poland’s daughter was not happy at all about her daddy’s scheme. She did a Juliet and sent a note secretly to Fortinbras. “Spring me from the joint. This chastity belt daddy locked me up in itches like crazy.”
Fortinbras showed up at the tower at midnight. Being as good a climber as Spider-Man, he went up the wall like nobody’s business. Threw the future Mrs. Fortinbras across his broad shoulders. Then went back down the side of the tower in no time flat. He headed off to the Justice of the Peace and had the nuptials pronounced.
Fortinbras was prepared. He had brought a big set of pliers and off came the chastity belt. Nothing was going to stop him from her treasure chest. But first she had to go pee and she had to go pee bad. She came back to their hotel room and got into bed. There was a knock on the door. It wasn’t the big bad wolf. It was Raspy. Fortie went out the window first. On the ground three stories below, he whispered, “Jump. I’ll catch you.” She jumped. He missed. She died right there in his arms. Needless to say, Fortie had to get out of town and he had to do it fast. But he would never forget his true love. And he would never forget Poland.
Now he is marching through Denmark to get to Poland. He is out to get even for the loss of his lady love. He had something like twenty thousand men behind him. Actually it was not something like twenty thousand. It was exactly twenty thousand. He could have chosen Sweden but the Swedes didn’t like Norway none too much.
“Captain, go and ask the king of Denmark if we can cross. Tell him we won’t rape and loot and plunder. We just need to get across.”
Hamlet sees the army and he is impressed. “Just look at those uniforms. Aren’t they mahvelous? Simply mahvelous.”
Rosencrantz agreed. Guildenstern agreed.
Right then and there, Hamlet decided that he had to go back, take out the king and get an army with uniforms just like Norway’s. After all, military strategists the world over know that it is the army with the best uniforms that won the wars. Just look at how well the British did in that little skirmish called the American Revolution. All ‘cause they had such great looking uniforms.
What army do you think has the best looking uniforms?