William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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William Shakespeare's Hamlet A ghostly figure in the shape of the recently deceased king has

appeared on the castle ramparts at night. It seems to want to speak.

The guards and Hamlet's friend, Horatio, decide to tell young Prince

Hamlet. The new king, Claudius, announces his marriage to his

brother's wife, Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. Hamlet himself is deeply

troubled by what he views as his mother's betrayal of his father and

refuses to appear cheerful. He is very excited to be told of the ghost

and plans to meet with it that night. Laertes bids farewell to his

sister, Ophelia, and his father, Polonius, who is a royal counsellor.

Both men warn Ophelia against the attentions of Prince Hamlet.

Meanwhile, on the ramparts, the figure tells Hamlet that he is his

father's ghost, that he was killed by Claudius and that he wants

Hamlet to take revenge. Exhilarated, Hamlet swears compliance to the

ghost's wishes.

A few weeks later, Polonius is arranging to spy on his son when his

daughter tells him that Hamlet has come into her chamber, apparently

in a state of madness. The King arranges to have Hamlet's fellow

students, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, spy upon him. Polonius is keen

to prove that Hamlet has become mad as a result of unrequited love and

tries to engage the Prince in conversation. Hamlet manages to avoid

telling the truth to either party. He persuades an actor to recite a

sad speech and then bemoans his own lack of passion.

Polonius arranges for his daughter, Ophelia, to encounter Hamlet while

the King and himself are watching. The prince enters, lamenting the

pains of life and the afterlife, and then launches a savage attack

upon his erstwhile lover. Then Hamlet arranges for the players to

present a play which depicts the events of his father's death in order

to prick the King's conscience and so provide proof of his guilt. The

plan works and Hamlet vows bloody murder.
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