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Synopsis of Hamlet

The story takes place in Denmark, when a pair of watchmen spots a ghost that closely resembles the recently deceased King Hamlet. Horatio, the scholar then spots him secondly. Hamlet’s brother Claudius has just inherited the throne and married the King’s widow, Queen Gertrude. Horatio and Claudius take Prince Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude, to the ghost. When Prince Hamlet sees the ghost, it speaks to him and declares that he is his father and that he was murdered by his brother Claudius. The ghost orders Hamlet to seek revenge, and then disappears. Prince Hamlet devotes himself to seeking revenge, which ends up turning him mad. Claudius and Horatio are worried about the Prince’s erratic behavior, so they send two of his friends to spy on him. Polonius, the pompous Lord Chamberlin, suggests that Hamlet may be madly in love with his daughter Ophelia. Hamlet orders Ophelia to a nunnery and decides to ban marriages.

A group of actors come to Elsinore, and Hamlet decides to test his uncle’s guilt. Hamlet has the actors play a scene that closely resembles Hamlet’s vision of his uncle murdering his father. During the performance, right before the murder is committed; Claudius leaps up and leaves the room, which in turn proves his guilt. Hamlet leaves the room planning to kill Claudius, but sees him praying, and decides that he can’t kill Claudius during the act of prayer because his soul will rise to heaven. Claudius fearing his own safety, orders Hamlet to be sent to England at once. Hamlet goes to confront his mother in her bedchamber, and hears movement behind the curtain. Thinking it was Claudius, Hamlet stabbed the person who ended up being Polonius. For this crime, he is immediately sent to England. Claudius orders Hamlet to be put to death. Because of her father’s death, Ophelia goes mad with grief and drowns herself in the river. Polonius’ son Laertes returns to Denmark in a rage. Claudius convinces Laertes that Hamlet is responsible for his father and sister’s death. Claudius uses Laertes’ anger to secure Hamlet’s death. Claudius has a plan that involves sword fighting to kill Hamlet. Laertes challenge Hamlet to an innocent duel, but his sword will be poisoned so that if Hamlet is struck, he will die immediately. Claudius also has a goblet that is filled with poison, so that when Hamlet has a victory he would drink from the cup and die. But after Hamlet has a victory with the first few strikes, he refuses to drink from the goblet. Instead, his mother, Gertrude, drinks from the cup and falls dead. Laertes strikes Hamlet, but Hamlet does not die immediately from the wound. Laertes is also struck by his own blade, and dies from it. Hamlet then stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink from the goblet. At the point, a Norwegian Prince named Fortinbras, who has led an army to Denmark and attacked Poland earlier in the play, enters with ambassadors from England. Fortinbras is horrified by the death of the royal family, and Horaito fulfilling Hamlet’s last request, tells Fortinbras Hamlet’s tragic story. Fortinbras orders that Hamlet be carried away in a service that represents a fallen solider.

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