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Hamlet Video SparkNote

HAMLET Hamlet is the prince of Denmark. His father was the king, but he died before the play begins. Hamlets uncle, Claudius, has taken over as king and married Hamlets mother, Gertrude. THE GHOST At the beginning of the play, a ghost appears to some soldiers. He looks just like Hamlets father, the dead king. The soldiers agree to tell Hamlet about it. KING CLAUDIUS Claudius tells Hamlet he has to stop acting so sad about his fathers death. Hamlet says he will. When hes by himself, he says hes disgusted that his mother married Claudius. POLONIUS, LAERTES, AND OPHELIA Hamlets girlfriend is Ophelia. Her father, Polonius, and her brother, Laertes, try to convince her that Hamlet doesnt love her. They point out that because hes a prince, he cant marry whoever he wants. They think hes more likely to seduce her than marry her. Ophelia agrees not to talk to Hamlet anymore. KING HAMLETS MURDER Hamlet sees the ghost, who says he is Hamlets father. He also says that

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Claudius murdered him by pouring poison in his ear. Hamlet swears to take revenge. He mentions to the soldiers that in the future he may find it useful to act as if hes crazy. HAMLETS MADNESS Ophelia tells her father that Hamlet came to see her after she returned his love letters, and he seemed insane. His clothes were messed up, he was trembling and pale, and he looked scared. Polonius now thinks Hamlet really did love Ophelia, and hes gone mad because she rejected him. Claudius and Gertrude ask Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, some friends of Hamlets from school, to spend time with him and try to find out why hes been acting crazy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to cheer Hamlet up by telling him that a group of actors has arrived at the castle. Hamlet decides hell have the actors perform a play that mimics the murder of his father. He wants to see if Claudius reacts to it and shows his guilt. He says the ghost might actually be a lying devil. Claudiuss reaction to the play will clear up the mystery. GET THEE TO A NUNNERY Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius want to test the theory that Hamlet is acting crazy because hes lovesick, so they spy on a meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia. Hamlet is very nasty to Ophelia and tells her she should go become a nun. After hearing this, Claudius decides Hamlet is not in love. He does think Hamlets obsessed with something, and since he thinks Hamlet poses a threat to him, he decides to send him to England. THE MOUSETRAP PLAY That evening, the actors perform the play Hamlet requested. When Claudius sees a scene where a king is murdered by having poison poured in his ear, he becomes so upset that he gets up and leaves. Hamlet sees this reaction as proof that Claudius did indeed murder his father.

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CLAUDIUS TRIES TO PRAY When Claudius is by himself, he admits he murdered Hamlets father. He tries to pray for forgiveness, but he cant seem to make himself do it. Hamlet comes into the room behind him with a sword, but he decides not to kill him, because he thinks Claudius will go straight to heaven if he dies while hes praying, and he wants him to go to hell. HAMLET STABS POLONIUS THROUGH THE ARRAS Hamlet goes to see his mother, not knowing that she has given Polonius permission to hide behind a tapestry and listen to their conversation. Hamlet makes her sit down and tells her shes not leaving until he shows her how bad she really is. Gertrude gets frightened and calls out for help. Hearing her, Polonius calls out for help too, and Hamlet, thinking its Claudius behind the tapestry, stabs Polonius through the cloth and kills him. HAMLET ACCUSES GERTRUDE Hamlet tells his mother how awful it is that shes sleeping with Claudius. He doesnt come right out and say that Claudius murdered King Hamlet, or that he thinks Gertrude knew about it. He focuses more on how much better his father was than Claudius, and tries to make his mother promise not to sleep with Claudius anymore. She tells Hamlet that hes making her feel guilty. The ghost enters and scolds Hamlet for taking so long to get revenge. Hamlet sees the ghost, but his mother doesnt, and she thinks hes crazy. Hamlet leaves, hauling away Poloniuss body. THE DEATH SENTENCE Claudius sends Hamlet to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. When hes by himself, he says hes given Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sealed letters ordering the king of England to put Hamlet to death immediately after opening the letter. OPHELIAS MADNESS AND LAERTES RETURN Ophelia loses her mind following her fathers death. Laertes returns to

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Denmark, leading a noisy crowd of supporters. He blames Claudius for his fathers death and his sisters insanity, and threatens to overthrow him. Claudius manages to persuade Laertes that Hamlet is really to blame. THE PIRATES Horatio gets a letter from Hamlet saying that the ship he was on was attacked by a pirate ship. Hamlet was taken prisoner by himself and brought back to Denmark. Claudius and Laertes also receive a letter from Hamlet in which he says hes arrived back to Denmark alone and will come to see Claudius the next day. Now that they know Hamlet didnt die in England, they start plotting a new way to kill him that will look like an accident. Gertrude brings the news that Ophelia drowned in a stream. OPHELIAS FUNERAL Two gravediggers talk and joke while digging Ophelias grave. Hamlet gets into a conversation with one of them. He doesnt know yet that Ophelia is dead. Claudius, Gertrude, and Laertes arrive to bury Ophelia. They lay her in the ground, but before they can throw earth on her, Laertes leaps into the grave to hug her one more time. Hamlet finally realizes who theyre burying and starts swearing that no one loved Ophelia more than he did. He jumps into the grave too, and he and Laertes fight until theyre pulled apart. ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD Hamlet tells Horatio that on the way to England, he stole the letter that would have sentenced him to death, and wrote a replacement letter telling the king of England to put Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to death. He managed to get free during the pirate attack, and then he returned to Denmark. A courtier named Osric interrupts them to invite Hamlet to a fencing match with Laertes, to be held in front of the king and queen. Hamlet agrees.

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THE FENCING MATCH Before the match, Laertes poisons the tip of his sword, and Claudius poisons a cup of wine. Hamlet gets the first hit, and Claudius says hes going to give him a precious pearl as a reward. Then he drops the pearl in the poisoned cup and offers it to Hamlet. But Hamlet says hes not ready to drink yet. Hamlet gets the second hit. Gertrude picks up the poisoned cup and drinks from it before Claudius can stop her. Laertes finally gets a hit, wounding Hamlet with the poisoned sword, and they both get mad and start grappling with each other. In the scuffle they exchange swords, and Hamlet wounds Laertes with the poisoned one. Gertrude collapses and says shes been poisoned. Laertes confesses to Hamlet that he poisoned the sword and says theyre both going to die. He blames Claudius for the scheme. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink from the poisoned cup. Claudius dies. Then Laertes dies, asking Hamlet for forgiveness as he expires. Hamlet dies after telling Horatio to remain behind and tell the truth about everything that happened. Fortinbras, a prince of Norway, arrives with his army on a visit to Claudius. When he sees that the whole royal family is dead, he claims the kingdom for himself. For more information about Hamlet, check out the SparkNote to it on sparknotes.com. For a translation of the entire play into modern English, go to No Fear Shakespeare at nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet.

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