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Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Summary of the Play


The play begins with Prince Hamlet going back home for his father’s funeral. The prince feels depressed when he finds out that his uncle, Claudius, had already remarried Gertrude, his mother.

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Claudius immediately becomes the king after the death of King Hamlet, yet Prince Hamlet is the right heir to the throne. The ghost claims that Claudius poured poison into the late king’s ear while he was sleeping. Hamlet is convinced that he should ensure that Claudius is killed, but Gertrude should continue living.


Hamlet swears to avenge his father’s death. He, however, questions the trustworthiness of the ghost. He partly fears that the ghost might be the devil’s representative sent to lead him to temptations. Hamlet agonizes over what he deems cowardice as his confusion persists while thinking about the appropriate course of action.

To ascertain the sincerity of the ghost, Hamlet seeks the assistance of a group of actors who act a play entitled The Murder of Gonzago. Hamlet adds scenes to the play that reflect the murder depicted by the ghost. He names the revised play The Mousetrap.

The outcome

The play produces a successful outcome. How Claudius reacts to the play shows that the play is disturbing his conscience. Claudius develops breathing and vision problems, which cause him to leave the room. Hamlet believes beyond a reasonable doubt that Claudius killed the king. Hamlet struggles with his conscience in his resolution to kill Claudius. He accidentally injures Polonius with a knife.

Una fortunately, Polonius succumbs to the knife injuries. Claudius is angered by the death of Polonius. He thinks about how he could punish Hamlet. Finally, he ensures that Hamlet is sent to England on unknown grounds so that he could be punished for his actions. The king sends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to spy on Hamlet and later hand him to the King of England for execution.

More Killings

However, Hamlet kills the people who were sent to spy on him. Ophelia cannot believe that her father is dead. She thinks that she is dreaming in a broad daylight. She mourns her father’s death by singing sad songs. Laertes goes to Denmark so that he can find the people who killed his father. He finds that his sister is so much affected by death to the extent of becoming insane.

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When the funeral ends, Hamlet and Laertes fight each other to show who loves Ophelia most. Laertes also promises to avenge Polonius’ death. He enters into a plot with Claudius to murder Hamlet. While fighting, Laertes drops a sword that has poison and Hamlet uses it to cut him. Horatio disrupts Hamlet by saying that Gertrude is dead. Gertrude drunk poisoned wine that the king had made for Hamlet.

Laertes plays a great role in unearthing the secret about the death of Gertrude. He asserts that it was the king who ensured that Gertrude was killed. Hamlet’s anger grows so much that he cuts Claudius with the poisonous sword and dispenses the remaining wine through the king’s gut.

The end

In his last minutes of living, Claudius gives a declaration for the throne to pass to the Prince Fortinbras. The dying prince asks his friend Horatio to give a candid description of the situations that led to the deaths at Elsinore. Finally, Prince Fortinbras of Norway becomes the King. He declares a dignified military funeral for the late Prince Hamlet.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Summary of the Play." October 3, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Summary of the Play'. 3 October.

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