Monday, October 7, 2013

Hamlet – Act Summaries

Act I

Horatio and some court officers see a ghost similar to the late Danish King in armor suits in midnights. The King has killed Fortinbras—King of Norway—in the war, and now the descendent (also called Fortinbras) was preparing another war to take back the territory his father has lost. Meanwhile, Claudius—the present King, brother of old Hamlet—married Gertrude, Queen of the deceased old Hamlet. This angered young Hamlet who still mourned for his father. When Hamlet told about his father’s ghost, he decided to take on guard with Horatio and the others. On the other hand, Laertes and Polonius the father warned Ophelia to not taking Hamlet’s woe seriously because he was royal.

The Ghost came again and told Hamlet that it has been in purgatory, and urged him to take revenge of his father’s murder; that he didn’t die of poisonous snake but by Claudius, the present King. Hamlet agreed to do the mission and forced Horatio and Marcellus to swear that they won’t tell anyone about the ghost.

Act II

Polonius sent his servant to spy on his son Laertes’ activities in Paris. Norway ambassador brought news that King Fortinbras guaranteed that his son won’t attach Denmark, but he would pass Denmark on the way of attacking Poland.

Meanwhile Hamlet started to act like a mad man; which Polonius took as caused by Ophelia rejection of his love. On a visit of a group of tragedy actors, Hamlet arranged to slip several lines of his into the play to test King’s guilt of murdering Hamlet, Sr.


Polonius and Claudius hid when Ophelia would speak to Hamlet to prove that Hamlet was really mad because of love. Left alone, Hamlet reflected about life and death (this was where his famous monolog is” to be or not to be—“). Apparently, the tragedy brought the King and Queen’s story to live; which angered Claudius; and thus showed his guilt. Hamlet wanted to kill him when he was praying, but cancelled it. His mother called Hamlet to meet her, and Hamlet did his best to scold his mother for her sin. In the process, he accidentally killed Polonius who is hiding behind the tapestry, whom Hamlet thought as his uncle.

Act IV

Claudius decided to send Hamlet to England on a mission, while he secretly asked the English King to murder him. Meanwhile, Ophelia lost her sanity after her father’s death, and Laertes—her brother—led a rebellion against Claudius because he thought he has killed his father. Hamlet sent Horatio a letter telling that he was imprisoned at a pirate ship, and asked him to come as quick as possible to pick him up. With it, he sent a letter to Claudius that he was coming home. So Claudius told Laertes that the murderer of his father was Hamlet and persuaded him to kill Hamlet. But before the plan was settled, Ophelia was found drowned dead.

Act V

Arrived in Denmark, Hamlet and Horatio witnessed Ophelia’s funeral. Hamlet was angry of Laertes’ show of grief, and they wrestled. Hamlet told his story to Horatio, that he has secretly read Claudius letter to English King—instructing him to kill Hamlet—and immediately replaced the letter with the one he wrote himself, instructing the English King to kill the letter bearer. Meanwhile, Claudius executed his plan to trap Hamlet into a fencing duel with Laertes; either Laertes would kill him by a poisonous sword’s tip or he would drink from a poisoned cup. However, the Queen took that drink—and died. Laertes wounded Hamlet, but then their swords were swapped in scuffle, and Laertes was wounded by his own sword in Hamlet’s hand. Before he died, Laertes told the real plot, and Hamlet forced Claudius to drink from the poisoned cup, so the King died too. Hamlet asked Horatio to clear his name by retelling the story before he died too. Meanwhile, Fortinbras’ army came on the right time to overtake the throne, while Horatio told him and the world the whole story. Fortinbras instructed that Hamlet’s corpse was treated as a king’s.


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