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Summary of William Shakespeare's Hamlet

The phantom of the dead king of Denmark appears and disappears three times to the guards Bernard, Horace and Marcellus. He doesn' t speak, so later the three will inform his son Hamlet.

Meanwhile, the new king Claudius, who is the brother of the dead one and who has married the queen, Hamlet's mother, remembers his death and devotes himself to political matters.

Laertes, the Chamberlain' s son, asks the king and obtain the permission to go to France; the king and the queen ask Hamlet not to go back to Wittemberg, to be less gloomy, and to try to forget his father, the dead king.

Laertes advises his sister Ophelia to beware of Hamlet and of his love, and she is forbidden by her father Polonius to speak to Hamlet, who couldn' t give her assurance of eternal love.

Hamlet meets the phantom, who reveals him his secret: he was murdered by Claudius while sleeping in the garden, and his soul wanders, since he was killed without repenting of his sins. The king asks Hamlet to revenge his murder.

The phantom' s apparition seems to have driven Hamlet mad, while Ophelia and Polonius think he is out of his mind because Ophelia rejected his love.The king and the queen call two friends of Hamlet's, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, hoping they can understand why Hamlet is so sad and what troubles him, but uselessly. Later, also Ophelia will try, but in vain.

Hamlet meets Polonius, makes a fool of his old age, and recommends him to watch his daughter. A company of players comes to the castle and acts some parts of a play for Hamlet, who will finally be able to decide how to settle the question once for all : the players will act a tragedy very similar to the murder of Hamlet's father. Horace will observe carefully the king during the performance, in order to draw a conclusion.

In a soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his doubts, if it's better to be or not to be, to react or to die.

After the performance, the king is very upset and wants Hamlet to go to England, since he is mad and dangerous; the fault fills the king with horror, he would repent, but he can't. In that moment Hamlet could kill him while he is in prayer, but he restrains himself, since Claudius 'soul could find his salvation.

While speaking to the queen to remind her of her fault , Hamlet draws his sword and kills involuntarily Polonius, hidden to eavesdrop the conversation. The phantom appears again to recall the urgent revenge to Hamlet's mind.

The queen informs the king that Hamlet killed Polonius and the king wants to take the corpse to the chapel, but Hamlet has already got rid of the corpse. Hamlet leaves for England, and Ophelia is distressed and seems to go mad because of his father' s death.

Laertes comes back and wants to revenge his father ; as agreed with the king, he will fight against Hamlet, but his sword will be poisoned, or if necessary, a poisoned glass of wine will be offered to Hamlet. Ophelia is drowned, and she is buried. Hamlet comes back adventorously from England, and Laertes curses him. While the two are fighting, the queen drinks by mistake the glass of wine and she dies. Hamlet is wounded, the two swords are exchanged during the cruel fight, so Laertes is wounded by Hamlet with the poisoned sword. Hamlet, before dying, also wounds the king with the poisoned sword; also Horace wants to drink the poisoned glass of wine, but he desists at Hamlet's request, to tell Hamlet's true story. Hamlet dies.

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