Author: William Shakespeare
Hamlet: the protagonist; son of the late King Hamlet and nephew of the current king, Claudius. Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius but is often hesitant. It is not until he compares himself to Fortinbras that he decides to take action.
Claudius: the current king of Denmark and the brother of the former king; Claudius is the villain in this play because he killed King Hamlet, took his throne, and married King Hamlet’s wife Queen Gertrude.
Polonius: Laertes and Ophelia’s father. Hamlet kills Polonius thinking that he was Claudius
Horatio: Hamlet’s close friend; stays faithful and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play
Fortinbras: Foil for Hamlet; the prince of Norway; Invades Poland with little reason other than pride and makes Hamlet wonder why he cannot kill Claudius even though he has all the reasons to do so.
Ophelia: The daughter of Polonius; Believes that Hamlet loves her
Laertes: Son of Polonius; Foil for Hamlet because he is quick to act instead of hesitant
The Ghost: The ghost of the late King Hamlet who claims that Claudius killed him. He tells Hamlet to avenge him.
– Ability to take action
In the beginning of this play we learn that the late King Hamlet was murdered by his brother Claudius, who later married Queen Gertrude. King Hamlet then returns as a ghost and visits Prince Hamlet to tell him to avenge his death. Hamlet battles with this request, as he is pensive and hesitant by nature. He seems to go mad, so Polonius orders Hamlet’s former friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on him. They determine that his love for Ophelia is not the reason for his strange behavior. Hamlet continues to try to determine if Claudius is in fact guilty of murder. He puts on a play with a scene that closely resembles the way that Hamlet believes Claudius killed his father. Hamlet watches his actions throughout the scene, and when Claudius leaves in the middle, Hamlet and Horatio decide that this proves the king’s guilt in the murder. Hamlet puts off killing Claudius because he is praying and fears that he may go to heaven if he is killed while he is doing such act. Hamlet then compares himself to the Prince Fortinbras in a soliloquy. This is a very important turning point in the play because Hamlet now commits to taking action on his anger. Hamlet proceeds to go to his mother’s house where he accidently kills Polonius, thinking he is Claudius. Laertes, Polonius’ son, is obviously angry at Hamlet for killing his father. Claudius devises a plan to take advantage of Laertes’ anger. He sets up a sword fight between Laertes and Hamlet, but he poisons Laertes’ sword is poisoned so it will kill Hamlet if blood is drawn. Claudius also sets up a goblet of poison that he will have Hamlet drink if he is not killed by the sword. Hamlet is cut but does not immediately die, and Gertrude accidently drinks the poison and dies. Laertes ends up getting cut by his own sword and dies of the poison after revealing that Claudius is responsible for Gertrude’s death. Hamlet proceeds to stab Claudius with the poisoned sword and force him to drink the poison. Claudius dies and then Hamlet dies after finally getting his revenge.