English Literature » Summary » Hamlet: Summary by Acts
Hamlet

Hamlet: Summary by Acts

Hamlet is the longest play by Shakespeare’s and it delivers some immortal lines like

To be or not to be: that is the question

and the advise-

to thine own self be true..

Brief Summary

The ghost of the King of Denmark tells his son Hamlet to avenge his murder by killing the new king, Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet feigns madness, contemplates life and death, and seeks revenge. His uncle, fearing for his life, also devises plots to kill Hamlet. The play ends with a duel, during which the King, Queen, Hamlet’s opponent and Hamlet himself are all killed.

Act 1 Summary

begins in Denmark with the news that King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died.

Denmark is now in a state of high alert and preparing for possible war with Young Fortinbras of Norway. A ghost resembling the late King Hamlet is spotted on a platform before Elsinore Castle in Denmark. King Claudius, who now rules Denmark, has taken King Hamlet’s wife, Queen Gertrude as his new wife and Queen of Denmark.

King Claudius fearing Young Fortinbras of Norway may invade, has sent ambassadors to Norway to urge the King of Norway to restrain Young Fortinbras. Young Hamlet distrusts King Claudius. The King and Queen do not understand why Hamlet still mourns his father’s death over two months ago. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet explains that he does not like his mother marrying the next King of Denmark so quickly within a month of his father’s death…

Laertes, the son of Lord Chamberlain Polonius, gives his sister Ophelia some brotherly advice. He warns Ophelia not to fall in love with Young Hamlet; she will only be hurt. Polonius tells his daughter Ophelia not to return Hamlet’s affections for her since he fears Hamlet is only using her…

Hamlet meets the Ghost of his father, King Hamlet and follows it to learn more…

Hamlet learns from King Hamlet’s Ghost that he was poisoned by King Claudius, the current ruler of Denmark. The Ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death but not to punish Queen Gertrude for remarrying; it is not Hamlet’s place and her conscience and heaven will judge her… Hamlet swears Horatio and Marcellus to silence over Hamlet meeting the Ghost.

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