Hamlet is a tragedy play written by William Shakespeare during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and first performed in 1603.

Plot Overview Edit

Some thirty years after a long-standing feud between the separate forces led by King Hamlet of Denmark and King Fortinbras of Norway, which came to an end in a single combat that has left the latter king stripped of the lands he has gained through conquest, Denmark is enjoying a state of everlasting peace, but fears that young Prince Fortinbras is making preparations for his invasion on the now it. While rising to face the Dane once more in the name of his fortune and people, young Prince Hamlet wanders the corridors and courtyards of his ancestral home Elsinore, half mad for revenge for what he has come to learn was the murder of his father by his uncle.

Thus unravels a tragedy which is to ultimately prove fatal to all the major protagonists of the play. Spared the uniformly fatal consequences of treachery and unlawful ambition are Fortinbras, the young prince of Norway, and Hamlet's friend, fellow student and liege man Horatio. These two finally appear on the stage as a witnesses to the carnage that just ensued. Claudius' guilt is manifest and he confesses to the audience to having murdered Hamlet's father to become king. This must certainly be the first cause of the play's action, and his motives are illuminated through a soliloquized confession. These are greed, lust for power, and his "incestuous" love for his brother's wife, (his sister-in-law) King Hamlet's wife and queen, and Prince Hamlet's mother.

However, Lord Polonius, the Danish court's Lord High Chamberlain, is shown as being equally influential in the final outcome of the tragedy. He becomes convinced of Hamlet's emotional involvement with his daughter, and from then on spends his energies attempting to catch out the prince in his love for the girl. Though his motive is certainly a result of protective and fatherly feelings towards his daughter, when, following the funeral of King Hamlet and his queen's remarriage, his son, Laertes, departs once more for Paris, he sends a man after him to spy on the young man, demonstrating the kind of parental control considered by some in the present day to be intrusive, invasive or overbearing, or even a kind of harmful entrapment. Then, in his eagerness to similarly catch young Hamlet, he falls victim to a sword-thrust aimed by the prince at what he at first perceived to be an unwanted intruder in his mother's bedchamber. Polonius had secreted himself behind a woven screen in the Queen's quarters, so as to be able to overhear the conversation that would ensue between Gertrude and her son when the young man was summoned to her private quarters in hopes that he might reveal to her the reason for his morose and erratic behavior. The thrust into the concealing screen would prove a mortal one to the great lord, and the main reason for all the action to come.

While Ophelia would succumb to disappointment, depression and suicide after her father's untimely demise, Polonius' son would end his days through the fateful misconception, miscarrying and misconsummation of his vow to revenge his father and sister, especially by accepting the assistance of Claudius, whose plot to kill Hamlet had already been discovered by the prince. The king's choice of murder weapons would prove the general undoing when the poison he chose to work his mischief is inadvertently consumed by his queen, sister and wife. Then, another lethal venom, procured by Laertes and applied to one of the dueling swords, yields to both him and Hamlet fatal consequences when they switch weapons during the climactic duel, and ultimately finds a target in Claudius, vengefully carried home on the point of Hamlet's rapier.

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Titus Andronicus | Romeo and Juliet | Julius Caesar | Hamlet | Troilus and Cressida | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Timon of Athens | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | The Tempest
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