Act 1

Scene 1

  • Barnardo arrives to replace Francisco who is standing at his post, Francisco gets scared
    • Elsinore Castle, Denmark
    • Bit of mystery, with Francisco getting scared
    • Setting is creepy and cold
    • Nothing happened while Francisco was at his post
    • Barnardo asks Francisco to tell Horatio and Marcellus to help him if he sees them
  • Francisco does see Horatio and Marcellus happen to come
    • Marcellus asks if “this thing” appeared again, which Barnardo says it didn’t
    • Marcellus says Horatio believes it’s in their imagination so that’s why Marcellus brought Horatio
    • Marcellus says they saw it twice before
  • Horatio doesn’t believe it will appear when the ghost appears
    • Barnardo says it looks like the dead King of Denmark
    • Horatio, like everyone else, every afraid, speaks to it asking it to speak
    • The ghost moves away
    • Horatio is very surprised at what just happened
  • They describe the history of the former King of Denmark (rumors)
    • The dead Late King Hamlet killed Late King Fortinbras, the King of Norway
      • By law, Late King Hamlet gets all of Fortinbras’s land
    • Fortinbras is planning to take back his father’s lost lands in Denmark, resorting glory to Norway
    • That is why there is a strict watch
  • The ghost reappears, heads to Horatio, who asks it to use its voice and warn them what is going to happen to Denmark
    • Dawn approaches with a rooster crowing just when the ghost was about to speak
    • The ghost leaves
  • Horatio tells Marcellus and Barnardo to come with him to tell Hamlet what happened
    • Says the ghost will talk to Hamlet (it’s son)

Scene 2

  • Claudius the new king of Denmark speaks to his court
    • Describes the death of his brother Late King Hamlet and how they will move on
    • Tells the court he is aware of Fortinbras’s plans.
    • Has Cornelius and Voltemand tell the King of Norway to stop Fortinbras
    • Claudius wants to show how capable and decisive he is
  • Laertes asks Claudius for permission to return to France, which he grants
  • Claudius asks his (step)son Hamlet why he looks so grim (he believes he has been grieving his father too long)
  • Everyone is ready to move on from the death of Hamlet, but Hamlet doesn’t want to move on
    • Hamlet says how stale life has been ever since his father’s death
  • Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo enter to talk to Hamlet
    • Horatio tells him that he saw Hamlet last night
    • Hamlet says he will join them to see the ghost himself
    • He wonders whether the ghost will reveal some sort of foul play

Scene 3

  • Laertes tells his sister Ophelia not to fall in love with Hamlet
    • She warns him listen to his own advice
  • Polonius tells Laertes to make many friends but still be careful who he gets close to
    • Also tells him to stay out of quarrels, to dress well, to never borrow nor lend money, and be true to himself (“to thine own self be true”)
  • Polonius asks Ophelia what Laertes told him
    • She says he gave her advice about Hamlet
    • Polonius says they have been spending a lot of time together, but says she would be a fool to think Hamlet cares about him
    • She contests this, but he still tells her not to spend any time with her, which she agrees to
    • She probably won’t follow advice, similar to Ismene from Antigone

Scene 4

  • Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are standing guard waiting for the ghost
  • Claudius is partying inside, Hamlet criticizes saying he is, “blotting out all that is good in the country”
  • The ghost appears and Hamlet addresses it
    • The ghost comes out after 12 (the Witching hour) and leaves at daybreak (signaled by a rooster)
    • Hamlet asks it to speak
    • It motions for him to follow
      • Everybody tries to stop him because it might try to lead him into the sea
      • He breaks from their grasp, threatening he will turn them into ghost if they don’t let him follow the ghost
      • Marcellus: “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”

Scene 5

  • Alone, The Ghost finally talks to Hamlet
  • The ghost says her soon will have to go back to the flames of purgatory
    • Asks Hamlet to avenge his death
  • The ghost speaks about the horrors of purgatory
    • He’s confined in the fires until the flames have burned away his sins
    • Says he could tell stories that would freeze his blood and make his eyes bulge out of their sockets, but he is not allowed
  • Asks Hamlet to take revenge for his murder
    • Says the official story is that a poisonous snake bit him and killed him, which he says is a lie
    • Tells him the man who actually killed him is now wearing his crown (Claudius)
    • Says he poured poison into his ears while he slept in the garden
    • Tells Hamlet not to let him get away for this and then vanishes
    • He swears he will avenge his death
  • Horatio and Marcellus catch up and ask what happened
    • He tells them what happened under the condition they won’t tell anyone else
  • Hamlet tells them to vow not to tell anyone else
    • The ghost calls out demanding they vow, following them wherever they go
    • They vow on Hamlet’s sword
  • Then Hamlet warns them he will act strange in the coming days
    • Says not to steak about this when it happens
    • He will act strangely to try to get information

Act 2

Scene 1

  • Inside Elsinore, Polonius gives his servant Reynaldo money and messages to give to Laertes in France but also to spy on Laertes
    • There is a lack of trust there, he doesn’t know who Laertes is loyal to
    • Tells Reynaldo to talk to Laertes’s friends about drinking, gambling, and women in regard to Laertes
  • Laertes leaves, Ophelia enters, scared
    • Ophelia says she was in her room and Hamlet came in
    • She says he entered unannounced and with his shirt unbuttoned
    • Ophelia is scared because she is supposed to be proper, and she didn’t know what to do
    • Hamlet either is showing his first signs of madness or is actually unable to control himself
    • Ophelia says Hamlet grabbed her wrist tightly
    • Polonius tells Ophelia to see Claudius
    • Polonius is a foil for Hamlet in that he is very excited to develop schemes and things while Hamlet is very indecisive and hesitates
    • Polonius asks of Ophelia did anything to make him mad
    • She says she did as Polonius said and sending back his letters and not speaking with him
    • Polonius thinks that rejecting him has made him mad
    • Curses his own advice

Scene 2

  • Claudius and Gertrude introduce Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who of Hamlet’s childhood friends brought to help Hamlet “draw of his pleasures” in response to his “transformation” after the death of his father
    • They are also supposed to report to Claudius and Gertrude if Hamlet is doing anything sinister
    • It may seem like Claudius is worried about Hamlet, but he actually just wants to figure out what is up with Hamlet, very quick with decisions
  • Polonius enters telling Gertrude and Claudius that ambassadors from Norway Voltemand and Cornelius has safely returned, and he knows the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior
    • Claudius asks what the cause is, but Polonius says they should meet after the ambassadors come back
    • Polonius is also scheming, trying to keep Claudius wrapped around his finger
  • Claudius meets with Voltemand and Cornelius
    • Voltemand says he put a stop to Fortinbras
    • Fortinbras apparently swore to keep peace with Denmark and will now invade Poland instead
    • Voltemand gives him a letter from Fortinbras asking Claudius for permission to pass through Denmark to invade Poland
    • Fortinbras, when hit with a road block, moves on with it quickly
    • He is determined to conquer more and more land
    • Voltemand and Cornelius leaves and Polonius talks to Claudius about Ophelia
    • He gives him a letter written by Hamlet that Ophelia gave him
    • In it, the young prince professed his intense love for Ophelia.
    • Polonius tells the king and queen that he ordered Ophelia to reject him as he was worried
    • Confesses he might have caused on Hamlet’s madness by doing this
  • Claudius wants to test this theory by letting Ophelia be with Hamlet while they watch
  • Hamlet comes, the king and queen leave, Polonius talks to Hamlet
    • Polonius asks Hamlet if he knows who he is, to which he replays he is a fishmonger
      • Polonius says he is not, Hamlet says he is lying, Polonius says honest men are rare to find
      • Hamlet asks Polonius if he has a daughter, he replays yes, Hamlet says to keep an eye on his daughter lest she “walk i’ th’ sun” and “conceive.”
      • He is using a play on words to say Ophelia might get to close to the sun and get pregnant when in reality he means he will get to close to the son of the king and get pregnant
      • He is playing with Polonius, smarter than him
    • Hamlet talks about a book he’s been reading and how the author went rogue and talked about the irrelevance of old men
      • Polonius tells the audience he is surprised by Hamlet’s madness and can’t figure it out
    • Polonius asks if Hamlet plans to walk through the gardens or inside
      • Hamlet replays he will walk inside and into his grave
      • Hamlet does not value his life
      • Polonius belies this obscure answers are signs of his madness
    • Polonius leaves
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern talk to Hamlet
    • Hamlet seems exited to talk to his old friends and catch up
    • Both friends say they aren’t as wealth as they would like but are not poor
    • Hamlet asks why they came back to the “prison” that is Denmark
      • They say Denmark isn’t like a prison
      • Hamlet is also toying with them, he understands why they are here and are just trying to confuse them as he did with Polonius
    • Hamlet tells them to tell him the truth
      • After a bit of back and forth, Guildenstern gives up, and they were told to come
    • Hamlet (playing with them) offers to tell them why they were brought here
      • He describes exactly what the king and queen told the two friends about Hamlet
      • Hamlet ends that, based on their reaction, that he hit the nail on the head
    • Rosencrantz says Hamlet isn’t around other people enough and suggests he join a group of actors who are coming to Elsinore
      • Hamlet says they will be welcomed but questions why the actors are travelling to perform even though the pay is better where they were
      • Rosencrantz says they are becoming less popular in the city as child actors are the new thing
      • Hamlet thinks its crazy that children have surpassed professionals
      • Shakespeare is trying to say something about the modern state of theater
      • Connects that to Claudius’s unnatural popularity and how he doesn’t like both
  • The actors come
    • Hamlet warns his friends they can expect to see the king and queen deceived and says he is only mad on occasion
      • More toying with them, their inability to understand the situation shows they aren’t the smartest
      • Hamlet introduces Polonius as a “great baby”
      • Hamlet mocks everything Polonius says as Polonius says they are the best actors in the world
    • Hamlet welcomes the actors, it is obvious he knows some of them
      • The First Player, the leader of the actors, asks what speech Hamlet wants to hear
      • Hamlet struggles to remember a speech from an obscure play
      • He recites most of it
      • Shows Hamlet’s ambitions as an actor, can remember long speeches
      • The First Player complements Hamlet’s good memory
      • The First Player finishes the speech about a young warrior Pyrrhus attacking the king of Troy and then killing the king and taking the crown while the wife watches
      • This foreshadows what’s to come
      • Hamlet has Polonius take the actors to their rooms
      • Hamlet asks the First Player to prepare to preform, The Murder of Gonzago
        • Also asks him to insert a speech that Hamlet wrote
        • He agrees
    • Hamlet has a monologue about gathering the curage to kill Claudius
      • Says how an actor can create enough emotion and feeling, but Hamlet, who should have enough anger, cannot convince himself to kill Claudius
    • Comes up with a plan
      • He will make the play about what the murdering of his father probably looked like, and will judge Claudius’s reaction to figure out if he actually did it
      • He is worried the ghost is trying to tempt him to do something evil so he wants to make sure

Act 3

Scene 1

  • Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern gather to discuss Hamlet
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern say Hamlet is not answering them about why he is mad
      • Gertrude asks if they tried to get him to do something fun
      • They respond that they brought some actors who will do a play at the castle
      • Claudius tells them to make sure Hamlet is excited about something
      • Constant scheming going on; trust no one
  • Polonius tries to set up his plan to have Hamlet meet with Ophelia while they watch
    • Polonius gives Ophelia a prayer book and pretend to read it
    • Claudius mentions how “pious action”, what they are doing, is a bit of sin, but tells her it should be fine
    • Claudius tells the audience how he is pretending to be something and how he is carrying a “heavy burden” of lies
  • Hamlet gives his (now famous) soliloquy about suicide
    • “To be, or not to be” - To live or not to live
    • He wonders whether it is nobler to fight against evil or if the fighting itself is not noble, and he should just not fight and instead die
    • Hamlet is religious though we will see more of that in Act 3, Scene 3
    • He is worried that the pain he might feel after death is worse than the pain he is feeling now
    • More examples how indecisive he is, he can’t decide to kill Claudius or himself
    • Sees Ophelia with her prayer book and asks her to absolve him of his sins
  • Hamlet and Ophelia talk while Polonius and Claudius who are hidden, watch
    • Ophelia tells Hamlet she has “remembrances” to give back to him
      • He says he never gave her anything, Ophelia insists that he gave her many gifts and letters
      • Says the joy it used to give her is gone and doesn’t want them anymore
    • Hamlet asks her if she’s being honest
      • Keeps asking if she’s fair
      • Ophelia is the first person Hamlet has taken to normally and without confusing wordplay
      • His questioning of honesty might be because of how their whole meeting was a setup, how he doesn’t believe she doesn’t love him or how she wasn’t honest in the past and never loved him
      • Says she’s beautiful, but there is no correlation to honesty
      • He wonders whether she is using his beauty to manipulate Hamlet
    • Ophelia then goes on to say how beauty and purity are connected
      • Says beauty turns a good girl into a prostitute and how honesty cannot make a sinful woman pure
      • He is assaulting her purity even though he might have been the one who did it
    • Says “I did love you once”
      • Ophelia says he only made her believed that he loved her
      • Hamlet goes back on what he said and says he did never love her
    • He tells her to go to a nunnery
      • The term nunnery is used to mean convent slang for brothel meaning “a place where people engage in sexual activity with prostitutes”
      • Tells her she shouldn’t bring any more sinful people into the world
      • Says he, like all men, are born as a sinner, and how it would have been better if he hadn’t had been born
      • He asks where Polonius is to which Ophelia says he is home
      • He says he hopes he locks himself in
    • Hamlet predicts that even if Ophelia remains “pure as snow” that no one will ever believe her
      • Ophelia begs god to make Hamlet sane
      • Urges her to shut herself away from all men
      • Hamlet says how woman use all this makeup to seduce men into becoming sinners
      • Says women’s wantonness, or very sexual behavior, is what drove him mad
      • Once again, we know Hamlet is supposed to acting mad, so he can kill Claudius, but then again, we wonder if some of it is real
      • Tells her he wished there were no more marriages and ends by telling her for a third time to get to a convent
      • He leaves
    • Ophelia rants
      • Says his potential as a scholar, a soldier, and the leader of Denmark is gone
      • Claudius and Polonius comfort her
      • She says Hamlet poses some danger and thinks he should be sent away to England on a diplomatic mission
      • Polonius says they should give Claudius one last chance to figure it out

Scene 2

  • Hamlet instructs the First Player how he would like the monologue to be delivered
    • He tells them to not break character to get the laughs of the audience, he wants them to create the role genuinely
  • Hamlet asks Polonius if the king and queen will watch the show, he says they will
    • He then orders Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern to go with Polonius to make sure the actors get ready
  • Horatio enters, Hamlet expresses how nice it is to see a true friend
    • Hamlet says he is a loyal companion and morally good person, and for that reason he entrusts him with a secret
    • Hamlet knows he is surrounded by people scheming against him
    • He reveals he wrote a new scene which contains the events from Late King Hamlet’s murder
    • He asks Horatio to keep a close eye on Claudius as if he reacts strongly, action must be taken
    • *Creates dramatic irony for the audience
  • The play is about to start
    • Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and other members of the court watch
    • Claudius asks Hamlet how he’s doing
      • Gives a weird complicated answer of eating the air just as chameleons do
    • Asks Polonius if he acted in college
      • He says he did and says he played Julius Caesar
      • Shakespeare is referencing his own play!
      • Hamlet talks about how brutal Caesar’s murder talking about how wrong Brutus was to do it
      • Obviously playing with Claudius
    • Gertrude asks Hamlet to sit with her, but he says he wants to sit by the more attractive Ophelia
      • He then taunts her with sexual words which she deflects
      • Remarks about his good mood
        • He says everyone in the room is happy including his mother and his father who died two hours ago
        • Ophelia says his father has been dead for 2 months
  • The pantomime starts
    • A pantomime is a play before a play
    • Says the king and queen hug before the queen to let the king take a nap but while the king is sleeping, another person steaks the crown and pours poison in his ear and then runs away. The queen finds the king dead and the killer returns and pretends to grieve with her. The killer then seduces the queen into falling in love with her
    • Ophelia is suspicious
      • He says he’s just making some “mischief”
      • Some more sexual talk
  • The play starts
    • The king and queen talk about how long they’ve been marred
      • But the king says he wants the queen to remarry as he is old and tired
      • The queen vows to never remarry
      • Trying to condemn his mother (Gertrude) for remarrying so soon
    • Hamlet asks Gertrude what she thinks
      • She says “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
      • She is saying the queen is promising to much
      • Claudius asks if anything offensive is coming
        • Hamlet says it’s all just pretend
        • Says the name of the play is The Mousetrap
    • Lucianus, the nephew to the king enters
      • Ophelia remarks how Hamlet knows so much about the play
      • Hamlet distracts her from figuring it out again with more sex jokes
      • Lucianus pours poison into the sleeping king’s ear
      • Claudius stands up from his seat
      • Gertrude asks what’s wrong, Claudius announces he’s leaving
      • Everyone but Hamlet and Horatio follow Claudius
  • Hamlet discusses merrily with Horatio what happened
    • Horatio agrees Claudius seemed very guilty
    • Hamlet has the players play some music as the king didn’t like the drama
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern reports the king is very unhappy, but also the queen is angry
    • They say the queen wants to see Hamlet right away
  • Hamlet ignores Guildenstern and takes a players flutes and plays it
    • Asks Guildenstern to take his flute and play a tune
    • He says he doesn’t know how to, Hamlet insists
    • Hamlet then lashes out and accuses Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of playing him like a flute
    • Says he will not be played upon
    • Hamlet can’t handle ignoring Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s betrayal any longer
  • Polonius tells Hamlet the queen wants to see him right away
    • Hamlet says to himself that it has become “the very witching time of night”
    • Saying he is capable of anything
    • But tells himself he will not hurt his mother

Scene 3

  • Claudius talks with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    • Tells them he is sending the two of them and Hamlet on a mission to England
    • They say they will do anything the king asks
    • Claudius wants to keep Hamlet as far from him as possible as he is scared
  • Before Hamlet comes to speak with Gertrude, Polonius hides himself behind the tapestry again to listen in on the conversation
  • In a soliloquy, Claudius admits to killing Late King Hamlet
    • Asks God for forgiveness
    • Fears he will need to give up the thrown
    • He wishes he could have the sins go away without undoing anything
  • Hamlet sees Claudius praying alone
    • He thinks now is the perfect time to kill him as he is alone
    • But decides not to because he is scared if he kills him while he is praying, Claudius will go to heaven when he wants Claudius to go to hell
    • After Hamlet leaves Claudius says his prayers “got stuck on the way up” and worries he will not go to heaven

Scene 4

  • Polonius lays out the plan with Gertrude
    • Polonius hides behind the tapestry
  • Hamlet enters
    • Gertrude tells Hamlet he has upset his father
    • Hamlet says it is her who upset his father
      • She asks why he speaks to her so cruelly, wonders if he forgot who she was
      • He says he knows exactly who she is, her husband’s brother’s wife and his own mother
    • Gertrude tries to leave asking if he plans to murder her and calls for help
      • Polonius calls out to help her
      • But Hamlet, angry of being spied upon, sticks his sword into the tapestry killing Polonius who was behind it
      • Gertrude curses Hamlet’s bloody deed
      • Hamlet says his deed is almost as bad as killing the king and marring his brother
    • Gertrude asks again why he talks so rudely to her
      • He says she plucked the soul out of marriage
      • She insists she doesn’t know what she has done
      • Keeps berating his mother
    • The Ghost appears
      • Hamlet asks the ghost what he should do
        • Gertrude cannot see the ghost, thinks Hamlet has fully gone mad
        • The ghost reminds Hamlet to seek vengeance, but urges him to not hurt Gertrude
      • Hamlet asks Gertrude if she is ok
        • She is freaked out by the discourse with the air
        • Tells him he’s suffering with hallucinations
      • The ghost leaves
    • Hamlet tells her to not sleep with Claudius or tell him about what happened
      • She swears
    • Tells Gertrude he is off to England
      • Predicts Claudius will have told them to kill Hamlet
      • But Hamlet says he plans to outsmart the king
      • He assures her he will deal with Polonius’s body

Act 4

Scene 1

  • Claudius asks Gertrude what is wrong
    • She lies that Hamlet has gone completely mad and killed Polonius in his rage
    • Promises he will be shipped away by the time the sun comes up
  • Claudius tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and bring Polonius’s body to the chapel
    • Tells them to call their wises friends
    • Claudius can’t just kill Hamlet because Gertrude still loves him

Scene 2

  • Hamlet hides Polonius’s body and runs into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    • They ask what he did with the body
      • He says he compounded it with dust
    • They ask where it is
      • He says never allow such a sponge to get the answer out of him
      • Rosencrantz asks why Hamlet thinks he is a sponge
      • Hamlet says they soak up the king’s countenance
      • He is saying they do the king’s dirty work so Claudius can wrong then dry and start the cycle over again

Scene 3

  • Claudius tells some of his advisers that Hamlet (character) is dangerous
    • Says he cannot do anything to Hamlet as it may upset people
    • Says he will send Hamlet away
  • Rosencrantz says Hamlet will not tell them where he burred Polonius
  • Hamlet is brought inside
    • Claudius asks where he was
    • Hamlet says he was at supper
    • He asks where he was eating
    • Says he was not eating but being eaten
    • Claudius keeps getting angrier as Hamlet keeps taunting him
    • Asks where Polonius is
    • Hamlet says he’s in haven, but hints he burred him at the main hall
    • Hamlet knows Claudius can’t kill him, even if he admits to killing Polonius
  • Claudius says for Hamlet’s safety, he decided to send him away to England
    • Hamlet bids Claudius farewell calling him dear mother
      • Claudius says he is his father
      • But Hamlet says Claudius became his mother when he married her
    • Gives Hamlet a letter to give to the King of England, so he can get in
  • Claudius hopes King of England will follow his instructions on the letter to kill Hamlet on sight

Scene 4

  • Fortinbras’s army arrives at Elsinore
    • Tells the captain to remind them of his permission to go through their territory
    • Says if Claudius would like anything to be done to tell him they will do it
  • Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern see the captain
    • Hamlet asks what they are doing
      • The captain says he is marching though to Poland under the command of Fortinbras
      • But admits the Poland is small and worthless
      • Hamlet is amazed by how Fortinbras can keep doing and doing when he can’t get himself to do one simple thing
  • He tells himself
    • The army of 20,000 men marching on a whim is sharping his dull revenge

Scene 5

  • Gertrude is told that Ophelia wants to meet with her
    • The courtier says Ophelia has gone mad and is speaking without meaning
    • Gertrude says to herself if Ophelia lost it, something terrible must be coming
    • It seems Hamlet’s pretending to go mad has caused Ophelia to actually go mad
  • Ophelia enters singing a song about love
    • Gertrude asks what the song is about, but Ophelia tells her to listen
    • She sings about a man who is dead and gone
    • Claudius enters and asks Ophelia how she’s feeling
      • She responds with a story about a baker’s daughter who was turned into an owl
      • “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance–pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”
    • She leaves
    • Claudius tells Gertrude she is grieving as her father died and Hamlet left
  • There is noise outside, Laertes has started a revolt against Claudius
    • The danish people cry, “Laertes shall be king”
      • The rebels break down the door
    • Laertes tells Claudius he is his father’s murderer
      • Claudius tells him he did not kill Polonius
      • Laertes asks who did kill him, pledging to be loyal to whoever served justice and killed his father
      • Claudius just tells him he was not the one
      • He wants to make sure his plan to have Hamlet killed in England to go as planned
  • Ophelia enters, Laertes is devastated
    • Swears his revenge will be paid in the same weight of her madness
    • Ophelia continues with her troubling songs
    • Claudius says he shares his grief, saying he will prove himself innocent and help Laertes revenge whoever it was

Scene 6

  • Horatio meets two sailors who had come with a letter
    • It says after 2 days at sea, the ship brings Hamlet to England was captured by pirates
    • The pirates took Hamlet prisoner in exchange for a favor
    • Horatio takes the sailors to meet with the king

Scene 7

  • Laertes and Claudius discus Polonius’s murder
    • Laertes belies Claudius didn’t murder Polonius but questions why Claudius didn’t pursue justice against Hamlet
      • He says he didn’t because Gertrude loves him and because the common people love him as well
      • Laertes says he will soon have revenge
  • A messenger carries letter from Hamlet, one for Claudius and one for the queen
    • The letter to Claudius says he had been set naked on Claudius’s kingdom
      • Means Hamlet had been returned with no possessions or money
      • Hamlet asks to meet
      • Laertes says he’s looking forward to meeting Hamlet
  • Claudius and Laertes discuss how to kill Hamlet without looking suspicious
    • Laertes will be the one to kill him
      • Claudius says the people have been talking about Laertes’s ability to fence
      • They decide they will fence with a rapier (sword) with venom on it
      • Tells him if he truly loved his father he will cut Hamlet’s throat even in a church
    • Tells Laertes to not jump on Hamlet immediately
      • Says he will talk about Laertes’s fencing skills so that Hamlet challenges him
      • Then he will kill Hamlet during a practice duel making it look like an accident
      • Laertes suggests they will put poison so even if he scratches him, he will die
      • Lastly, they will put poison in Hamlet’s drink, so he will die no matter what happens
      • No opportunity for failure
  • Gertrude announces Ophelia drowned
    • Her body was found covered in flowers and cloaked in gorgeous garments
    • But died a muddy death
    • Laertes mourns her death, Claudius says when he’s finished he’ll be read to take his revenge

Act 5

Scene 1

  • Gravediggers are at a patch of land outside the walls of Elsinore
    • One asks whether Ophelia will receive Christian burial even though she committed suicide
    • The two over them debate weather she simply drowned or killed her self as the dig
    • The second one belies she did kill herself but is only given a proper burial because of her noble status
  • Hamlet and Horatio enter
    • Hamlet is amazed that the two of them have such high spirits at such a sad task
    • The gravedigger throws a skull out
      • Hamlet approaches it, saying it once had a tongue and could sing
      • He wonders who the skull belonged to
    • Hamlet asks who the grave is for
      • The gravedigger jokes it is for himself
      • He then says it is not for a man or woman, but someone who used to be a woman before she died
    • Asks how long it takes for a body to root
      • Gravedigger estimate it takes 8 or 9 years
      • Says the skull has been there for 23
    • Asks who the skull was
      • Says it was the skull of Yorick, the king’s jester
      • Hamlet picks up the skull and says “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”
      • Saying he knew Yorick as he gave him piggyback rides
      • He might really be going mad talking to a skull
  • Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes enter
    • Hamlet tells Horatio that whoever the grave is for must have committed suicide but was of noble rank
      • Asks Horatio to hide and watch
    • Laertes asks the priest what rites will be performed
      • He says he did everything because even though the person committed suicide, they were of noble rank
      • Says she is allowed to be buried like a virgin
      • Seems to imply Ophelia was not a virgin, but they are burring her like she was anyway
    • Hamlet cries out when he realizes it is Ophelia who died
      • Both Laertes and Hamlet dive into her grave in a little competition of whose grief is stronger
      • The two begin fighting
      • Claudius, Gertrude, and Horatio get then to stop fighting
      • Claudius begs Laertes to save it to later

Scene 2

  • Hamlet tells Horatio how he escaped the ship to England
    • He snuck into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s room and saw the papers they were carrying
    • He then wrote a whole new note and replaced it saying to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead of him
    • So when the pirates captured them, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were killed and Hamlet escaped
  • They discuss Claudius
    • Hamlet says he wants to kill him more and more
    • Horatio says he needs to do it quickly as news of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s death will come soon
  • Osric enters
    • He compliments Laertes and his strong nature
    • Says how Claudius has bet on Hamlet in a fencing match against Laertes
    • Asks if Hamlet accepts the duel
    • Hamlet says yes
  • Horatio tells Hamlet he has a bad feeling
    • Hamlet insists he’s prepared to fight Laertes even if he too has a bad feeling
    • Horatio tells him to back out, but Hamlet says he is determined to participate and leaves is fate up to God
  • Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, Osric gather for the duel
    • Hamlet apologizes to Laertes for the pain he caused which Laertes, accepts
    • Hamlet’s inaction is showing as Laertes is prepared to actually take revenge
    • Both are handed swords and prepare to dual
      • Claudius says the cannons will honor the winner and as a reword whoever wins will get a delicious wine
  • The start to dual
    • Hamlet hits Laertes in the first round and Claudius offers him the poisoned wine to drink in celebration
    • Hamlet refuses it saying he will drink it later
    • Hamlet then kits Laertes again
      • Gertrude is so excited, she picks up Hamlet’s cup and drinks to his success
      • Claudius, in an aside, is so swept up in his plan that he cannot stop the queen from drinking the wine
    • In the third round Laertes lands a hit on Hamlet
      • Both drop their swords and pick the others by accident
      • Hamlet then hits with Laertes’s poisoned sword
      • Claudius asks for the fight to stop but Hamlet wants to keep going
    • Gertrude collapses then Laertes collapses
      • Laertes says he is “a woodcock to mine own springe”
      • He is saying he is a bird caught in its own trap
      • Claudius insists the queen just passed out because of the action
      • But Gertrude insists the wine is poisoned and wars Hamlet not to drink it
      • Hamlet tries to figure out what happened
      • Laertes confesses that he was the traitor and that Hamlet has been poison and soon die
        • Says there is no medicine in the world which can save him
        • Laertes calls out the king’s to blame
    • Hamlet, realizing the swords are poisoned, stabs Claudius then forces him to drink the poisoned wine
      • Claudius dies and Laertes, just before he dies, calls out the king got what he deserves and forgives Hamlet
    • Hamlet collapses and dies
      • Says goodbye to his mother
      • Begs Horatio to tell his story
      • Horatio seems to go to pick up the poisoned wine to die with him
      • But Hamlet stops him, telling him to tell Hamlet’s tale
    • The sound of war trumpets comes though
      • Fortinbras had successfully invaded Poland
      • Hamlet, with his dying breath, says Fortinbras should be the one to bear the Danish crown “The rest is silence”
  • Fortinbras with an English ambassador enters shocked
    • The English ambassador says he came to announce that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but no one was left to hear the news
      • Horatio tell him even if Claudius was alive, he would not thank the ambassador as he was not the one to order the death
    • Horatio tells them what happened
    • Fortinbras agrees to take the throne
    • Horatio says he will support him
  • They carry Hamlet’s body to a viewing platform
    • He says Hamlet would have made a great king
    • They clean the hall of the dead bodies

References

Tanner, Alexandra. “Hamlet.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 22 Jul 2013. Web. 3 Apr 2024.