Hamlet by William Shakespeare

BACKGROUND

This is another of William Shakespeare's plays. It is one of the more well known ones and has a bunch of the famous lines of Shakespeare you might have heard, like "To be or not to be, that is the question". Hamlet takes place in Denmark at Elsinore Castle. Hamlet is the main character of the play and is the Prince of Denmark. Hamlet is also the name of Hamlet's father, the old King of Denmark. He only appears in the play as a ghost. Basically, young Hamlet's Uncle kills his father (the King), marries his mother (the Queen), and becomes the new King. Hamlet's daddy comes back as a ghost and tells Hamlet that he was killed. Hamlet gets mad and plots his revenge. This play is a Tragedy and like most tragedies, everyone important ends up dead. The hard part about reading this play is that Hamlet acts like he is crazy for most of it so he talks in riddles. Shakespeare's regular language is hard enough to read alone, but with Hamlet's crazy talk, it's gets hard to follow. Of course, that's why we are here.

MAIN CHARACTERS

Hamlet: The Prince of Denmark and main character of this play.

Claudius: King of Denmark, uncle to Hamlet, and murderer of his brother the old King.

Gertrude: Queen of Denmark and mother of Hamlet. She is now married to Claudius.

The Ghost: Hamlet's father (also named Hamlet) who was the old king and is now dead, murdered by his brother.

Polonius: Councilor to the King.

Laertes: Polonius' son.

Ophelia: Polonius' daughter and love interest of Hamlet.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Friends of Hamlet.

Fortinbras: The King of Norway.

Horatio: Hamlet's friend from school.

Fransisco, Bernardo, and Marcellus: Guards at Elsinore Castle

PLOT

This is what has happened before the play starts. Hamlet is at school in Germany and his father dies. He comes home and finds out his Uncle has married his mother and is now King. So, the play starts two months after these events. Some guards see the ghost of Hamlet's father and tell Hamlet's friend Horatio. Horatio himself sees the ghost one night and tells Hamlet. While this is going on, the new King, Hamlet's uncle is trying to negotiate peace with Norway. He negotiates a peace with them and Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway asks permission to march through Denmark to attack Poland. Polonius is concerned about his son Laertes who is leaving for school and his daughter who Hamlet appears to be in love with. Polonius tells his son to behave and sends a servant to spy on him at school. He tells his daughter that Hamlet will never marry her because she is not royalty so dump him. Then Hamlet goes and sees the ghost of his dead dad and the ghost tells him that he was murdered by his brother, Hamlet's uncle. The ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death. He also tells Hamlet that Gertrude was sleeping with Claudius before he died, BUT not to do anything to her. He wants her to be judged by God. Hamlet tells his friends that he is going to start act like he is crazy until he can avenge his father and they must keep it a secret.

Two months pass and the King and Queen are worried about Hamlet's behavior. They ask two of Hamlet's friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to figure out why Hamlet is crazy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can't get any information out of Hamlet but they cheer him up by telling him a traveling group of actors is coming to the castle. Hamlet comes up with a plan to have the actors put on a play where they act out the murder of his father while he watches his uncle's face to see if he is guilty.

Polonius claims to know why Hamlet is acting crazy. He says it's because Ophelia rejected his love. To prove this he sets up a meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet for him and the King to spy on. The two meet and Ophelia tries to give back some gifts that Hamlet gave her. Hamlet denies every giving her anything and also denies ever loving her (he is pretending). The King now is more worried about Hamlet. He decides to send him to England.

Then the play is put on for the court. It's called "the mousetrap". The King can barely watch it before he has to leave the room. Hamlet now knows for sure his uncle is guilty as sin. Hamlet's mommy is really mad at him for upsetting the King and calls for a private talk in her chambers. On the way, Hamlet sees Claudius praying. Hamlet thinks this is a perfect opportunity to kill Claudius but he doesn't want to do it because if Claudius is praying, he might not die with his sins. Hamlet wants Claudius to burn in hell (or he is just making excuses!). In reality, Claudius is trying to pray but he can't find any words, so Hamlet blew his big chance.

Then Hamlet goes to talk to his mother. He is so mad at her for marrying his uncle and is yelling at her that she screams in fear. Polonius, who is hiding behind a hanging tapestry (kind of like a fancy decorated curtain), cries out to. Hamlet stabs the tapestry thinking it is his Uncle Claudius but instead kills Polonius. His mother can't believe what he has done, but Hamlet just tries to convince her to not sleep with his Uncle anymore to try and save her soul. The ghost comes in again and reminds Hamlet to leave his mother alone. Gertrude can't see the ghost, so when she sees Hamlet talking to it, she really believes he has gone absolutely crazy.

The King finds out what happened and tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to go get Hamlet and take him to England. He also plans to send a letter with Hamlet to the King of England to have Hamlet executed upon arrival. So, Hamlet is taken away by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. On the way to their ship, they run into Fortinbras' army coming back from fighting in Poland. Hamlet is all depressed because Fortinbras is off fighting and is a man of action and he hasn't even been able to kill his father's murderer yet.

Now, Ophelia really goes insane after her father's death. Laertes comes home from school and goes after the King because he thinks he had something to do with the murder of his father Polonius. The king convinces Laertes that he had nothing to do with it and blames it all on Hamlet. He gets Laertes all mad at Hamlet.

Them Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet saying he was captured by Pirates and now is on his way home. The King finds out and cooks up a plan with Laertes. Basically, Laertes will have a duel (with swords) with Hamlet. The King will poison the tip of Laertes's blade so if he cuts Hamlet, Hamlet will die. Also, the King will poison the cup of Hamlet, so if Hamlet cuts Laertes first, the King will offer Hamlet a toast so he will die no matter what happens. Then the Queen comes in and tells the Ophelia has drowned in the river. (possibly suicide)

Then Hamlet and Horatio are coming back to the castle and they see Ophelia's funeral procession. Laertes Laertes is upset and Hamlet claims he was the only person who really loved Ophelia (he really did) and then Hamlet and Laertes get in a wrestling match in Ophelia's grave. They have to be separated and the King reminds Laertes of their plan. Then Hamlet tells Horatio how on the first night of his voyage to England, he found the letter to the King of England that said to execute him. Hamlet rewrote the letter so that the bearers of the letter would be the ones who get executed (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).

The final scene is the duel between Laertes and Hamlet. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes for killing his dad but they still fight for "honor" (really because Laertes wants Hamlet dead as does the King). The way the duel works is the first one to get three "hits" on their opponent wins. It's like fencing. Hamlet gets the first. The King offers a toast. Hamlet declines to drink. Hamlet gets the second hit and then his mother picks up his cup and drinks a toast to him (oops….not too smart….she is gonna die). Claudius tries to stop her but it is too late. The match continues. Now Laertes cuts Hamlet (he is gonna die) and then they scuffle and end up trading swords by mistake and Hamlet cuts Laertes (oops…another dead one). Then the Queen starts to swoon from the poison and falls down. She yells she has been poisoned and dies. Then Laertes tells Hamlet about the plan and what the King has done. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poison blade and then pours the poison wine down his throat. He dies. Laertes then asks for Hamlet's forgiveness and gives his forgiveness for killing his father. He dies. Then Hamlet dies. Right before he dies, Fortinbras can be heard arriving at the Castle along with some ambassadors from England (to tell everyone that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead). Hamlet, with his dying words tells Horatio that he leaves Denmark to Fortinbras. Fortinbras comes in and sees all the bodies. Horatio tells him that it was all Claudius' fault and Hamlet is taken away in honor. Yay!

ACT BY ACT/SCENE BY SCENE

ACT 1

Scene 1

  • The play opens up on the ramparts of Elsinore Castle late at midnight
  • Francisco is waiting for Bernardo to show up and take over guard duty.
  • Then Horatio (Hamlet's buddy) and Marcellus (another guard) arrive and Bernardo takes off.
  • The reason Horatio is there is because the guards have been seeing a ghost walking around at night that looks like the murdered King.
  • Horatio doesn't believe the guards about the ghost.
  • Bernardo starts to talk about how the ghost showed up the night before and then the ghost actually shows up. It looks like the dead king.
  • Horatio is a student so the guards want him to try and talk to the ghost. He tries but the ghost goes away.
  • Horatio says he will go tell Hamlet what happened.

Scene 2

  • This scene takes place in the court of the Castle.
  • Claudius is conducting business. He is trying to prevent a war with Norway.
  • He also allows Laertes to leave court to go back to school.
  • Claudius notices Hamlet is upset (who wouldn't be if your dad was dead and your mom remarried in just two months).
  • Claudius and Hamlet's mother Gertrude try to cheer up Hamlet and convince him not to go back to school.
  • Everyone leaves and Hamlet is left alone and he gives a soliloquy (where an actor expresses his thoughts out loud) about how angry he is at what's going on in his life. His dad dead, mom remarried.
  • Then Horatio and Marcellus show up and tell Hamlet about the ghost that looks like his dad.
  • Hamlet is interested and says he will come tonight to see if he can talk to the ghost.

Scene 3

  • Laertes is talking with his sister, Ophelia, and saying goodbye before he goes back to school.
  • Ophelia tells him that Hamlet is in love with her. He has given her gifts and said he loves her.
  • Laertes tells his sister that Hamlet is in line to be the King and won't be able to marry her, so not to get her hopes up.
  • Ophelia tells Laertes that Hamlet is a gentleman and hasn't tried to put the moves on her and tells him not to worry.
  • Then Polonius enters (Laertes' and Ophelia's father).
  • He tells Laertes to behave at school and not to borrow or lend money. He also tells him to be true to himself.
  • Laertes leaves and then Polonius tells Ophelia to watch out for Hamlet because he is a guy and all guys think about is sex sex sex.
  • Ophelia tells her father she won't date Hamlet anymore then to make him happy.

Scene 4

  • Hamlet, Hoartio, and Marcellus are sitting at night on the ramparts waiting for the ghost.
  • The King is having a party to celebrate his health. Hamlet says it's a bad custom because everyone thinks the people of Denmark are just a bunch drunks.
  • Then the ghost shows up and Hamlet realizes it looks just like his dead daddy.
  • The ghost beckons Hamlet to come talk to it alone.
  • Horatio and Marcellus tell Hamlet not to go because it could be an evil spirit trying to get Hamlet.
  • They even try to hold Hamlet back but he goes with the ghost anyway.

Scene 5

  • The ghost tells Hamlet he is the spirit of his father and that he is doomed to walk the night and spend the day in fire until the sins of his life are burned away.
  • He tells Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother (Hamlet's uncle) Claudius.
  • Claudius told everyone that a serpent stung the King in his ear and he died, but what really happened was that Claudius poured poison in the King's ear.
  • The ghost asks Hamlet if he will avenge his murder. Hamlet says yes.
  • The ghost also says that Hamlet's mother was sleeping with Claudius before he was murdered but to leave her alone and let her be judged by God.
  • Then the sun comes up and the ghost leaves.
  • Then Horatio and Marcellus find Hamlet.
  • Hamlet makes them promise not to tell anyone about the ghost.
  • They are hesitant to swear to him they won't. Then the voice of the ghost pipes in from below and tells them to swear on Hamlet's sword and they do.
  • Then Hamlet tells them he will start acting crazy until he can avenge his father's death.

Act II

Scene 1

  • This scene starts with Polonius (Laertes' father) sending his servant Reynaldo to Wittenberg (where Laerte's goes to school) to give him some money and spy on him to make sure he is behaving.
  • Polonius tells Reynaldo to make up stories about Laertes to get information also. Saying something like "I know that Laertes guy….he drinks like a fish and fights a lot" and seeing if anyone agrees with him.
  • Then Ophelia comes in and tells her father that Hamlet just came and saw her and was acting crazy.
  • He just looked at her and didn't say anything. Then he shook his head and yelled and then left.
  • Polonius says they must tell the King because he thinks Hamlet is acting crazy because Ophelia dumped him.

Scene 2

  • The King and Queen are talking to two of Hamlet's friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • It's been two months since Hamlet saw the ghost and his crazy act has the King and Queen worried.
  • They want his friends to figure it out.
  • So they go to figure it out and then Polonius comes in and tells the King that the ambassadors to Norway have returned.
  • Also, Polonius claims he knows why Hamlet has gone cuckoo.
  • The Queen thinks it is because of his father's death and her quick re-marriage.
  • The Ambassadors tell the King that Norway is not going to attack Denmark anymore but attack Poland instead.
  • Polonius tells the King and Queen that the reason Hamlet is acting crazy is because he is madly in love with Ophelia and that Ophelia turned him down.
  • The King and Queen only half believe his theory so Polonius says he will prove it to them.
  • The King and Queen leave and Polonius approaches Hamlet.
  • He tries to get Hamlet to talk about Opohelia but Hamlet acts crazy but manages to rant at Polonius indirectly saying he meddles too much.
  • Then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to talk to Hamlet. Hamlet realizes they are only here to spy on him for the King.
  • Then a group of traveling actors come to the castle. Hamlet greets them all warmly.
  • He has seen them perform before and he asks one of the actors if he can insert some lines into the play they will perform tomorrow. The actor agrees.
  • Then Hamlet is left alone on stage again and he gives another soliloquy. This time he yells at himself for not taking any action of avenging his father.
  • He realizes he is talking a lot and not doing anything. He still has doubt that the ghost was really his father and not an evil spirit trying to get him in trouble.
  • He then comes up with a plan to prove his uncle is guilty. He will have the actors put on a play that portrays the death of his father in front of the King and Queen.
  • Then, he will watch his uncle's face to see if he is guilty.

Act III

Scene 1

  • Claudius asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if they figured out why Hamlet is acting like a loony.
  • They tell the King they don't know why but that Hamlet wants them to attend a play that is being presented tomorrow.
  • The King and Queen decide to attend the play and are both glad Hamlet seems to be happy about something.
  • Claudius and Polonius have set up a private meeting between Ophleia and Hamlet so they can watch how Hamlet behaves around her.
  • They hide and watch as Hamlet enters.
  • He gives a soliloquy as he enters. It is very famous: To be or not to be, that is the question.
  • The question he is asking is whether he should kill himself or not.
  • Then he talks to Ophelia. Ophelia tries to give him back some presents that she says he gave her.
  • He denies ever giving her anything and in the course of their conversation, says he has never loved her.
  • He also goes off on women and tells Ophelia to go off to a nunnery (which means a convent…but could also be an ironic way to say whorehouse)
  • Hamlet leaves and the King is now convinced his madness has nothing to do with Ophelia but something else.
  • He decides Hamlet is dangerous and wants to send him to England.

Scene 2

  • This scene is where the actors put on a play for the court.
  • Hamlet tells Horatio about his plan to put on the play and watch his Uncles reactions to see if he is guilty.
  • The play starts and it is a reenactment of the murder of the King.
  • The King asks Hamlet in the middle of the play what it is called. Hamlet replies, "the Mousetrap" Clever eh?
  • Right after the murder scene, the King gets up and has to leave the room.
  • Everyone follows him except Hamlet and Horatio who both agree he is guilty as sin.
  • Then Rosencranrtz and Guildenstern come in and ask Hamlet what is going on with him.
  • Hamlet knows they are working for the Kind and Queen and brushes them off.
  • Then Polonius comes in and tells Hamlet that his mother wants to speak with him.

Scene 3

  • The King is all scared now. He tells Rosenctrantz and Guildenstern that he wants them to take Hamlet with them to England.
  • Polonius comes in and tells the King that Gertrude is going to try to talk to Hamlet and see if she can get to the bottom of it.
  • Plononius says he is going to go hide in her chamber and listen.
  • Now, Claudius has a soliloquy and admits to killing his brother. He tries to pray for forgiveness but can't seem to do it.
  • Hamlet enters now and sees Claudius trying to pray. Claudius doesn't see him and Hamlet could kill him right now, but he doesn't.
  • Hamlet is worried that if he kills Claudius while he is praying he won't have to suffer in the afterlife and that is no good. Hamlet wants Claudius to burn.
  • If only he knew Claudius couldn't find the words to pray he could have done the deed and avenged his father. This is very important because it adds to the tragedy of the play.

Scene 4

  • The scene starts with Polonius telling the Queen to be firm with Hamlet.
  • Polonius hides behind big tapestry hanging on a wall and Hamlet enters.
  • Gertrude asks him why he has upset his father (Uncle).
  • He is mad though and says it is her who has upset his REAL father.
  • He pretty much accuses Claudius of killing his father.
  • His mother is worried he will hurt her and cries out. Polonius ries out from behind the tapestry.
  • Hamlet thinks it is Claudius hiding and stabs the tapestry.
  • He lifts the tapestry and sees it is Polonius.
  • His mother tries to scold him for kiiling Polonius but Hamlet says it is no worse than killing a king and marrying the old king's wife.
  • Hamlet then compares his father and his uncle and gives his father all the good qualities and his uncle all the bad qualities.
  • His mother is getting upset and then the ghost enters again. Only Hamlet can see the ghost.
  • Hamlet tries to convince his mother that the ghost is there but she just thinks he is even more crazy.
  • He then tries to convince her not to sleep with his Uncle anymore and be virtuous and repent. He wants her to save her soul.
  • Then he drags Polonius' body to hide it.

Act IV

Scene 1

  • The Queen tells the King that she thinks Hamlet is really crazy. So crazy that he even killed Polonius.
  • The King is upset (and thankful it wasn't him) and tells Gertrude they will be ok once they get Hamlet off to England.
  • Then the King tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to go find Hamlet and take the body of Polonius to the chapel.
  • The scene ends with the King telling Gertrude they must inform the court of what Hamlet has done and why they are sending him away.

Scene 2

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find Hamlet and ask him where the body of Polonius is.
  • Hamlet won't tell them.
  • They tell Hamlet that the King wants to see him.

Scene 3

  • The King is telling some of his advisors that he must send Hamlet away because he is dangerous.
  • Then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern show up with Hamlet.
  • The King asks him where the body of Polonius is.
  • Hamlet answers him with his crazy talk.
  • Example: The King asks where the body is. Hamlet says at supper. Then he says, not the supper where he eats, but the supper where he is eaten by worms.
  • Finally Hamlet tells the King where the body is and the King sends some guys to go get it.
  • Then the King tells Hamlet he is being sent to England.
  • Hamlet is taken away.
  • Then the King has a soliloquy and reveals his plan for Hamlet.
  • He is sending a letter to the King of England to have Hamlet executed as soon as he arrives.

Scene 4

  • Fortinbras (the prince of Norway) sends his Captain to tell the King of Denmark that they will be passing through Denamrk. They are coming back from fighting in Poland.(remember how Denmark was trying to avoid a war with Norway in the beginning of the play?)
  • Hamlet, Rocencrantz, and Guildenstern run into the Captain on his way to Elsinore Castle.
  • The Captain tells them that the army they see is from Norway headed by Fortinbras.
  • The Captain also tells Hamlet that they fought the Polish over a little pointless piece of land and lost a lot of men for no reason.
  • Then the Captain goes on his way and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern go ahead to the ship.
  • Hamlet is alone and gives another soliloquy. (these are very important because Hamlet is acting crazy and these help to show what he is REALLY thinking)
  • In this soliloquy, he compares himself to Fortinbras. Both are Princes. He sees Fortinbras as a man of action and himself as a man of no action. He is critical of himself for not having killed Claudius.

Scene 5

  • Gertrude is talking to Ophelia in the opening of this scene. Ophelia is now REALLY crazy. Not pretending.
  • She is singing and talking about death.
  • The Claudius enters and sees Ophelia acting crazy. She hints at the death of her father.
  • Claudius is concerned for her and tells Horatio to watch over her so she doesn't hurt herself.
  • The King tells Gertrude how bad he feels for Ophelia and all that has happened to her.
  • Then, Laertes comes busting into the Castle.
  • He heard about his father's death and came back from school because he thinks the King had something to do with it.
  • He wants revenge on Claudius but Claudius convinces him he had nothing to do with it.
  • Then Laertes sees Ophelia and what bad shape she is in and is even more upset.
  • Claudius tells Laertes that it's all Hamlet's fault. Now Laertes wants Hamlet's blood.

Scene 6

  • Horatio talks to some sailors who tell him they have a message from Hamlet.
  • Horatio reads a letter in which Hamlet tells him that Pirates attacked his ship to England.
  • Hamlet boarded the Pirate ship when it got close but then his ship got away.
  • He was captured but everyone else continued on for England.
  • After promising the Pirates some money, he is let go and is coming home.
  • Hamlet has some stories to tell Horatio about what happened.

Scene 7

  • Claudius and Laertes are talking.
  • Claudius convinces Laertes again of his innocence (yeah right).
  • Then a messenger comes in and gives the King a letter from Hamlet saying he is coming home.
  • The King is worried now and convinces Laertes to have a duel with Hamlet. Basically they will sword fight. This is not the kind of sword fight where you kill someone but rather just wound hit them three times to win. It's like fencing.
  • BUT, the King tells Laertes he will poison the tip of his sword so all Laertes has to do is cut Hamlet with his sword and Hamlet will die.
  • Also, to make sure he dies, the King will poison a glass of wine and offer it to Hamlet if he scores the first hit on Laertes. This way he is sure to die.
  • Then the Queen comes in and tells the King and Laertes that Ophelia is dead. She fell in the river and drowned. (the big question about this is…suicide or accident?)

Act 5

Scene 1

  • Two clowns (that what Shakespeare calls poor stupid people) are digging the grave for Ophelia.
  • They are saying how she shouldn't be given a Christian Burial since they think she committed suicide.
  • Committing suicide is a sin.
  • They say that the only reason she is getting a Christian Burial is because she has connections in the Castle.
  • Hamlet and Horatio come walking by and hear the Grave diggers talking and singing.
  • Hamlet is surprised by their joking manner and talks to one of them.
  • Hamlet finds the skull of a court Jester named Yorick. He used to know him.
  • Then Ophelia's funeral procession arrives. Hamlet doesn't know Ophelia has died yet.
  • Laertes jumps into Ophelia's grave and hugs her body.
  • Hamlet jumps in too and says he was the one who truly loved Ophelia. (He was only pretending earlier when he said he didn't love her)
  • Hamlet and Laertes do some wrestling in the grave (really respectful for the dead)
  • They are separated and Hamlet leaves with Horatio.
  • The King reminds Laertes of their plan.

Scene 2

  • Hamlet tells Horatio that on the first night he was on board the ship to England, he snuck into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's cabin and read the note from the King to the King of England.
  • He saw how he was going to be executed.
  • He then rewrote the note to tell the King of England to execute the people who delivered the letter…ie. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • A member of the Danish Court named Osric comes in says the King has bet that Hamlet can beat Laertes in a fencing match.
  • Hamlet agrees to do it.
  • The Queen sends Hamlet a message that he should make up with Laertes before they fight.
  • Horatio thinks Hamlet is gonna get his ass whipped. Hamlet says he has been practicing but even he is unsure.
  • Hamlet arrives and tells Laertes that although he killed his daddy, he didn't mean to do it. Hamlet says it was madness.
  • Laertes accepts this apology but says he still needs to duel with Hamlet for his honor's sake. (He just wants to kill him)
  • The match starts and Hamlet hits Laertes first. The King throws a pearl into Hamlet's cup and offers him a toast. (Hamlet's cup is poisoned remember)
  • Hamlet says he will drink it later and he wants to continue fighting.
  • Hamlet hits Laertes again. This time the Queen grabs Hamlet's cup and drinks to his health. The King tries to stop her because he knows it's poison but it's too late. She drinks it.
  • Then Hamlet and Laertes fight again. Laertes wounds Hamlet and then they get in a scuffle and end up trading swords and then Hamlet wounds Laertes.
  • Then the Queen starts to swoon and yells she has been poisoned and then falls down and dies.
  • Laertes realizing he just killed Hamlet and himself with his treachery tells Hamlet about the whole plan.
  • Hamlet stabs the King with the poisoned sword and then pours the poison wine down his throat. The King dies.
  • Laertes forgives Hamlet and asks him to forgive him and then he dies.
  • Then Hamlet hears a noise. It is Fortinbras coming to the Castle and also the ambassadors from England.
  • Hamlet tells Horatio he won't be alive when they come in but that Fortinbras has his blessing to become King of Denmark. Then Hamlet dies.
  • Then Fortinbras comes in and sees all the dead bodies.
  • The English ambassadors announce that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
  • Horation tells Fortinbras what happened and that it was all Claudius.
  • Fortinbras orders that Hamlet's body should be carried off in honor.
  • The play ends.

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • This is a tragedy. Hamlet is a tragic figure because of the circumstances he is put in with his life.
  • A good question to ask is: "Was Hamlet really crazy?" Although he says he is pretending in the beginning he does act really crazy, like just stabbing the tapestry and killing Polonius. There seems to be a fine line between his "pretend" madness and his real madness.
  • Talk about the relationship between Laertes and Hamlet. Both are trying to avenge their fathers and both end up killing each other. Also, Laertes reacted immediatley when his dad was killed where as Hamlet waits and waits to avenge his father. Why does Hamlet wait so long? Is he just afraid?
  • Poison plays a big role in this play. Almost everyone who gets killed is poisoned to death. It's just not poison as a liquid but also what is inside people. Ophelia is "poisoned" by her madness and died. Hamlet and Laertes are "poisoned" by revenge and end up killing each other. Claudius is poisoned by his greed and evil nature and ends up dying from it too. Also, everyone who comes in contact with Claudius (Hamlet, Hamlet's father, Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Gertrude, and Claudius himself) end up dying because of the "poison" in Claudius.
  • Discuss good and evil. Is Hamlet really good? He kills Polonius and his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Is he a hero or a victim of fate?