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"Hamlet", Play Summary Essay

828 words - 3 pages

ACT IMost of the action of play occurs in and around the castle at Elsinore in Denmark. King Hamlet is dead, and Prince Hamlet has returned to Denmark from school in Wittenberg, Germany, only to discover that Queen Gertrude, his mother, has married his Uncle Claudius. Claudius has had himself crowned king.Hamlet is informed that what is apparently the ghost o f his dead father has appeared to the palace guards (I, ii). When he later confronts the ghost, Hamlet learns that Claudius murdered his father and hastily married Queen Gertrude (I, v).Throughout the play, the ongoing border disputes and political machinations amongst Denmark, Norway, and Poland serve as a backdrop for the action in the Danish court (I, ii; II, ii; IV, iv; V, ii). Prince Fortinbras, whose father was killed by Hamlet's father, is a man of action, and his character serves as a foil to the contemplative Prince Hamlet.Polonius (Lord Chamberlain), his son Laertes and daughter Ophelia are also important characters in this drama. Polonius and Laertes are concerned about Ophelia's romantic involvement with Prince Hamlet and caution her against such a relationship. Polonius also provides fatherly advice to Laertes as he leaves for Paris (I, iii).ACT IIHamlet's emotional turmoil over his father's murder has left him in a visibly agitated condition, which some members of the court have interpreted as madness. Claudius and Gertrude, concerned for his welfare, summon two of Hamlet's oldest friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in the hopes that they can learn what is troubling him. (II, ii). Hamlet is immediately skeptical about their surprise visit. Anxious to confirm his own suspicions regarding the source of Hamlet's trouble, Polonius arranges a meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet, as he is convinced that Hamlet's love for Ophelia is the cause of his suffering (II, ii). When Polonius approaches Hamlet, Hamlet answers his questions although he believes Polonius to be a foolish old man.When a group of players arrives at the Danish court to entertain, Hamlet arranges for them to perform The Murder of Gonzago with the addition of lines Hamlet has written. What Hamlet hopes is to prove Claudius's guilt in the murder by watching his reaction to the drama the players will stage (II, ii).ACT IIIWhen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report back to Claudius that they have no explanation for Hamlet's strange behavior, Claudius decides to eavesdrop with Polonius on the meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia. Although Hamlet treats Ophelia irrationally, Claudius is suspicious of his...

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