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Hamlet Summary

This drama is one of the great tragedy themed plays by William Shakespeare. The themes of the plot cover indecision, revenge and retribution, deception, ambition, loyalty and fate. Hamlet is the son of the late King Hamlet (of Denmark), who died two months before the start of the play. After King Hamlet's death, his brother, Claudius, becomes king, and marries King Hamlet's widow, Gertrude (Queen of Denmark). Young Hamlet fears that Claudius killed his own brother (Hamlet's father) to become king of Denmark, greatly angering Hamlet. Two officers, Marcellus and Barnardo, summon Hamlet's friend Horatio, and later Hamlet himself to see the late King Hamlet's ghost appear at midnight. The ghost tells Hamlet privately that Claudius had indeed murdered King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ear. Hamlet is further enraged and plots of how to revenge his father's death. One night, Hamlet is talking with his mother when he realizes someone is spying on them and stabs the person through a hanging tapestry. He is unsettled when he finds it to be the his uncles trusted counselor, Polonius who was also Ophelia's father. After Hamlet discovers his fatal mistake, the ghost reappears to remind Hamlet of his duty.When Hamlet speaks with the apparition, Gertrude cannot see the ghost and concludes that her son is indeed insane. Later she tells Claudius that Hamlet, in a fit of madness, killed Polonius. Claudius sends Hamlet to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who carry sealed papers ordering Hamlet's execution after the ship's arrival. At sea, Hamlet discovers the papers in a sealed packet while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are sleeping and writes a new commission ordering the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then re-seals the papers and places them in the packet. The next day, pirates attack the ship, and Hamlet escapes and hitches a ride with them back to Denmark. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive in England and present the sealed papers, they are executed. ....Meantime, Ophelia goes mad when she finds that her true love killed her father. She drowns in a river. Later, in secret, Claudius and Laertes, who means to avenge the death of his father, Polonius, and his sister, Ophelia, plot against Hamlet and poison the tip of a sword Laertes is to use against Hamlet in a fencing match designed as an entertainment. During the competition, Hamlet performs brilliantly, and Claudius offers him the cup of wine. But Hamlet and Laertes fight on. Meanwhile,things go amiss when the Queen drinks the poisoned wine and falls dead.

Laertes grazes Hamlet with the poisoned sword slicing his arm his skin and envenoming his bloodstream. Hamlet then wounds Laertes with the same poisoned sword. Both men are bleeding. ....Before Laertes dies, he reconciles with Hamlet and implicates Claudius in the scheme to undo Hamlet. Hamlet then runs Claudius through. As Hamlet lies mortally wounded, Prince Fortinbras arrives at Elsinore with his army after his conquest of Poland. Hamlet tells Horatio that he wishes the Crown of Denmark to pass to Fortinbras.

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