William Shakespeare found his inspiration for his work in a lost play by Thomas Kyd. The plot is set in the castle Elsinore in Denmark, and it has 5 acts.
The real meaning of “Hamlet” isn’t in the tragic destiny of the main character but meaningless of everything because Hamlet keeps on getting the readers to complex dilemmas and any meaning is just an illusion that comes at the beginning of the play. Some don’t believe in it, and some see it, and some even talk about it.
Hamlet has no rhyme in it, and it was written in a verse that originated from Italy and under the influence of John Milton, and Shakespeare became the standard English playwriting verse.
The story of this tragedy lies in Elsinore, the Danish town, and port on the northeastern coast. The drama began at midnight while two guards, Francis and Bernard were changing. Francisco informs Bernard that his shift passed in peace, and he leaves, but then Horace and Marcel appear, who should stand in guard with Bernard.
They talk about a ghost they saw twice already and then the spirit appears. Its is dressed in combat gear from head to toe, and it’s holding a marshal’s baton. He has the face of the late Danish king. Horace, who was an educated man, speaks to the spirit in Latin, but the spirit vanished without a word. The officers decide that they do not imagine it and that they saw a ghost, and that is not a good omen.
Men retell the story of the Danish king. The king was in the fight, and he defeated Fortinbras, Norwegian, and took all of his wealth. Now his nephew is preparing revenge against Denmark. This is believed due to comets, eclipses of the sun and other natural phenomena that were a sign of the accident.
Spirit appeared again, and men ordered him to speak, but then the cock crows and spirit disappeared again. It was believed that the rooster announces the awakening of Apollo, god of the sun. The officers decided that they must inform young Hamlet, son of the late king, about this spirit.
The next morning, the Danish King Claudius, brother of the deceased Hamlet, tells the hall that he married Gertrude, Hamlet’s widow. He also mentions a young Fortinbras, who sent him a letter demanding that he return all the properties that Hamlet won by his uncle, who is lying in bed seriously wounded.
Claudius sends Cornelius and Voltimanda Fortinbras to carry his message. Laertes, son of Secretary of State Polonia, asks the king to allow him to return to France, where he came from for the king’s coronation. He decides to let him return.
Now the king addresses to Prince Hamlet, who still wears mourning and he’s grieving for his father. He asks him to take off his mourning. He said that he believes in him and loves him as his son. The king warns him that death is the natural course and that it’s okay to mourn, but too much time mourning means character’s stubbornness and defiance.
The mother and the king beg him to remain in Denmark and not to return to Wittenberg, the famous German university, where Hamlet studied before the death of his father. Hamlet grants their wishes and the king decides this is a good reason for celebration. Hamlet remains himself and says that he is tedious and obnoxious life and to work wanted to die, just when suicide would not be a sin. Deplores the death of his father and the hatred of the fact that his mother married a brother of his father just a month after his death, and this community at that time was considered incestuous.
Hamlet remains alone and says that this is a tedious and obnoxious life and that he wants to die, if only suicide would not be a sin. He deplores the death of his father, and he hates the fact that his mother married his father’s brother just one month after his death, especially because in this community that was considered incestuous.
Francisco, Bernard, and Horace came for visits from Wittenberg. They tell Hamlet about the spirit of his father, which can be seen more and more often while they’re on guard in the middle of the night. Hamlet decides to keep the guard with them so he can talk with the spirit of his father.
This was the time of Laertes’s departure to France. At the farewell, he warns his sister Ophelia not to fall in love with Hamlet because he was high above her towards their gender lines. As the heir of the kingdom, he could not love her honorably and marry her. Their father Polonius came, and he says farewell to his son, along with a few tips; he tells him not to borrow money, to stay out of fights, not to be vulgar, to keep his friends safe and to keep his opinions to himself.
After Laertes leaves, Polonius asks Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet. She tells him that Hamlet said that he loves her, and then Polonius repeats the advice that her brother gave her. Polonius advise not to believe in his statements because he falsly expressed his love to her. She promised she’ll listen to her father.
That night when Hamlet was on guard with Horace and Marcel, little after midnight the ghost of his father appeared. He gave Hamlet the nod that asks his son to follow him, because he wanted to talk privately with him. Hamlet decides to go with it, despite the pleas of friends. They beged Hamlet not to listen to the spirit because he may harm him. Hamlet tells them that if his soul is immortal, spirit can’t do anything to him. Horace and Marcel decided to follow Hamlet.
When they came into the dark place, the spirit speaks to Hamlet, telling him that he’s the ghost of his father, forced to wander at night until he atones for his sins. He came to look for his son to tell him the truth about his death and ask him to revenge his father.
Although it’s declared that Hamlet’s father had died of snakebite while he slept in the garden, the truth is that he was killed by his brother. One day, while he was asleep in the garden, Claudius came and poured a poisonous hendbane juice in his ear. He died in sin, without his extreme unction and he begs his son to take revenge on Claudius, who made Denmark and Gertrude wrong. He seduced Gertrude and took her pure love from her. But Hamlet’s father warns him not to harm his mother but to leave her punishment to Heaven.
Before the dawn the spirit fades away, and Hamlet promises he will listen to him. He didn’t want to say anything to Horace and Marcel about what his father’s spirit said, and he made them swear not to tell anyone about the events that happened that night. He told them he will have to act like a madman for some time some time. They all hear the voice of a ghost from underground that force them to take an oath, so they all do so at Hamlet’s sword.
A few weeks later, Polonius sends Reynaldo, the servant, in France with money and a message for Laertes. He orders the servent to ask around about Laertes’s personal life and to stalk him when he can. Then Ophelia came and told her father about Hamlet’s strange behavior. Hamlet came to her room while she was sewing, he took her by her hand and stared into her eyes with a look full of pain. His clothes was all torn and dirty. Polonius concluded that Hamlet is madly in love with her, so he acts this way because Ophelia no longer wants to meet Hamlet or receive his letters.
The king and the queen of the palace called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s friends from the university, to assist them in discovering the reason for Hamlet’s madness, on which they agree.
The messenger has returned from Norway and brought news about Fortinbras. He forbid an attack on Denmark and intended to attack Poland instead. He asked for safe passage through the military state of Denmark.
Polonius says to the King and Queen he is certain that Hamlet was mad in love with Ophelia. He shows them the letters he sent and made a plan that will prove that. Hamlet often wanders alone through the halls of the castle, and that will give Ophelia a chance to face him, while they all watch from behind a curtain.
Rosencantz and Guildenstern visit Hamlet. He forces them to admit that they did’t came willingly, but the king and the queen sent for them because Hamlet was fallen into the state of melancholy and sadness. Hamlet explains to them that he’s not crasy all the time; most of the time he’s healthy, but sometimes he’s just crazy.
Actors and entertainers are coming out on the court. Hamlet asks one of them to tell them the story about the fall of the Troy and the murder of the king and queen. When he was left alone, Hamlet decides he’ll force the king to watch the show. Action in the show is similar to murder of his father. If the King is guilty, he will show it somehow and Hamlet will have evidence he killed his father.
Polonius and the King executed their plan and they hid to stalk Hamlet. Hamlet comes around and starts his monologue in which you once again raises the question of suicide to cut his pain. Then comes Ophelia and under her father’s commandment she tells Hamlet that she wants to return to him all of his signs of love he had given to her. Hamlet angrily tells her he loved her, but then aslo that he never loved her. He tells her to go to a monastery and then curse her fake beauty. Before he exits he stay he will renounce women and people in general; he wish to cut all of the marriages. He would let people who are in marriage to stay that way, but he would order to all unmarried to stay that way too.
Claudius concludes that Hamlet’s strange behavior is not caused by a great love for Ophelia. He did’t seem to be that crazy anyway. He is afraid that something bad is going to happen because of Hamlet’s behavior so he decides to send him to England, hoping he’ll recover there. Polonius agrees with the king, but still thinks that Hamlet’ s crazy because of love. He propose to king to sent Hamlet to have a talk with his mother, he believes Hamlet will tell her what really bothers him.
Time for the show came. Hamlet makes Horace watch the reaction of the king during the scene that is similar to the act of his father’s murder. Hamlet warns him he’ll start act like a madman from now on. During the show, called “Mousetrap”, actors who play king and queen express their mutual love. Queen leaves the king to take a nap in garden and then a man comes in and kills the king by pouring poison in his ear. The killer then begins to seduce the queen and succeeds with time. King Claudius suddenly becomes sick. He gets up and asks for the lights to be turned on. The show was canceled.
Hamlet was thrilled because he believes this is a sufficient proof of king’s guilt. He went to his mother who called him for a conversation. He decides he’ll be sharp on her, but he would not do any harm because of the wish of his father.
The king is now even more determent in his intention to send Hamlet away to England as soon as possible. Polonius reminds him of his plan to ear-drop Hamlet’s conversation with his mother. When the king is finally left alone, he expresses the guilt and regrets his sins. He is aware that the killing in the name of war is a great sin, but he asks for forgiveness, although he’s not ready to give up his position he earned.
The king begins his pray and at that moment Hamlet comes along. Hamlet talks himself out of killing the king because he believes that would be an award for him, not the punishment for the murder of his brother, considering that the king prays for forgiveness. Decides to wait for a better opportunity.
Queen Gertrude and Polonius are awaiting for Hamlet’s arrival in her chamber. Polonius believes he’ll find out the real reason of Hamlet’s strange behavior if he stays hidden behind the curtains. The queen verbaly attacks Hamlet saying he had offended his father Claudius but Hamlet tells her she insulted his late father. Fearing Hamlet might attack her, the queen asks for help, and so did the Polonius behind the curtain. Hamlet thought King Claudius is behind the curtains, so he kills Polonius.
Queen condemns him that he had killed a man but Hamlet replies that his work is the same sin as the murder of her husband’s brother and taking his throne.
Hamlet then reveals that he did not kill the king, but Polonius. He attacks mother for marrying Claudius and betray his father. The ghost of his father appears in front of him again and Hamlet speaks to the spirit. The Queen could not see the spirit so she believes that Hamlet is mad. Spirit warns Hamlet that he still hasn’t completed his revenge and killed Claudius. Hamlet is trying to convince his mother he’s not crazy, it was just an act. He advises her not to say that to Claudius and she agrees to keep his secret.
Just after the meeting with Hamlet, Queen went to tell Claudius what happened. Claudius realized that he’d be on Polonius place now if he hid behind the curtain. He decide he must immediately send Hamlet to England. He sends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to find it and take Polonius body to the chapel, but Hamlet doesn’t want to say what he did with the body. Hamlet admits Claudius that the body is under the stairs in the lobby. The king sents his servants to look for the body there, and tells Hamlet to get ready to leave because the ship is already ready. The king sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to him to make sure that Hamlet will not return alive from his trip.
On the plain near the port in Denmark, Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet Fortinbras and his army on their way to attack Poland. They need royal permission to go through Denmark. Hamlet wants to know why are they in war with Poland, and the captain replies it’s because of the small and worthless part of the land. Hamlet couldn’t believe people are willing to fight for such a small and worthless things, and he, who would achieved a lot with his revenge, consistently delays his act. In that momen Hamlet decided to execute his plan.
Polonium’s son Laertes secretly returned from France to avenge his father’s death. He sees Ophelia who’s acting strange after his father’s death, and that makes him even angrier. Claudius admits Polonius was killed, but asks Claudius to focus his anger on the real offender.
Horace received a letter from Hamlet in which he explains that the ship he is on was attacked by pirates, who returned the ship to Denmark. Hamlet asks him to send sailors who brought him this letter to the king and queen because they have a message for them. He also tells Horace to look for him because he wants to tell him something about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
At the same time, Claudius explains to Laertes that he had to bury Polonius in secret. He didn’t punish Hamlet because he is so much loved by the queen and the people, so he did’t want to create dissension among them. The messenger brings Hamlet’s letter in which he announces his tomorrow’s return to the palace. Laertes is pleased because it means he will be able to take his revenge soon.
Claudius agrees with his plan to revenge because he considers Hamlet as a threat to his throne. He proposes Laertes a duel with Hamlet where he can kill him. To be sure he’ll kill Hamlet, Laertes will use a sword with blade smeared poison. If Hamlet by any chance wins the duel, the king will offer him a poisoned wine. Then Gertrude comes in, bringing news of Ofelia’s death. She drowned herself in the river because of the grief.
At the cemetery, two gravediggers were digging the grave and arguing whether Ophelia, who committed suicide, should be buried in the cemetery. Hamlet and Horatio are talking with gravediggers who dig Hamlet’s grave digging, but he doesn’t know that. People are coming to Ofelia’s funeral. Everyone are here, including King, Queen and Laertes. In that moment Hamlet realizes for real this is Ofelia’s funeral. He declares his love for her in front of everyone. He gets into the fight with Laertes, saying there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Ophelia. Claudius asks Laertes for patience and reminds him of the plan they have.
Hamlet admits to Horatio he replaced the letter in which is order for his execution with the new letter, in which the execution is meant for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet doesn’t have compassion for them because they betrayed him. He only regrets his treatment toward Laertes. Hamlet recognizes himself in Laertes, and his desire for revenge so he decides to ask him for forgiveness. Hamlet actually do so just before the match, but Laertes does not accept his apology.
Right at the beginning of the duel Hamlet wounds Laertes, but refuses to drink wine before he gives him a second shot. After his second shot, Gertrude drinks up poisoned wine, despite the Claudius’s warning. Finally, Laertes coincidentally kicks Hamlet, so they two replaced swords and Hamlet strikes Laertes with his own blade,
Queen screams that she’s poisoned and dying. The same thing happens to Laertes. At the last moment he confesses what he did to Hamlet, so Hamlet pierces king with poisoned blade, forcing him to drink the wine until the end. Hamlet and Laertes forgave everything to eachother and Laertes dies. Hamlet expresses to Horatio his last wish. He wants Fortinbras to inherit their throne. Fortinbras declares that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are executed. Horace is telling all of the facts that led to this tragedy.
Hamlet – Danish prince and the hare of the throne. He came back from Germany when he found out his father was murdered and that his mother married his uncle. He was a mental wreck and lived under a lot of pressure. We also have some descriptions of his previous behavior. He used to be sensitive, loved to spend time thinking, felt grossed by the women’s behavior because of his mother and Ophelia. He was funny and witty, self-critical and had a big moral conscious. We often get the impression that he is indecisive but when he had he was strong and determined.
Ophelia – Hamlet’s great love and the daughter of Claudius’s counselor Polonius. She was convinced that Hamlet loved her even though he expressed no feelings for her. Her family thought she was ideal and they wanted and perfected husband for her. Hamlet saw her as a sexual object and nothing more. She had no strength to confront her father, and she did not have a mother to guide her in life. She dreamt of romantic love.
William Shakespeare Biography
William Shakespeare (1564. – 1616.) was a great English and also world playwright.
He was born in Stratford-on-Avon in 1564. He was the oldest of eight children, and he lived in a wealthy family.
A little is known about his life. 1582. He married Ann Hathway that was eight years older than he was. Soon after that, they got a daughter Susann and twins Judith and Hamlet.
Until 1592. He gets off the radar, and after that, he gets involved with writing and acting in London. Soon after that his poems ‘’Venus and Adonis’’ and ‘’The Rape of Lucrece’’ were published.
He wrote a lot, and his plays were happily performed by many. He became a co-owner of The Globe Theater. In the last years of his life, he decides to go back to Stanford where he died in 1616.
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, and they are divided to history plays, comedies, tragedies and romance.
His most famous works are “Henry IV”, “Richard III”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Taming of the Shrew”, “The comedy of errors”, “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Measure for Measure”, “Winter’s Tale”…