Hamlet Plot Summary

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Act 1 Scene 1


The scene is the Castle at Elsinore. Bernardo relieves Francisco, at about midnight. Marcellus who joins Bernardo in the watch along with Horatio who was told of the appearance the previous night. Horatio believes it to be a illusion until it appears. You learn that the ghost has appeared twice in the same armor that the king wore to fight Fortinbras, king of Norway, and the Poles who he defeated. The ghost appears again and again Horatio challenges it to speak. At the crow of the cock it moves and disappears. The three agree that they should tell Hamlet of this appearance.

Act 1 Scene 2


The scene is in a stateroom at Elsinore. The Lord Chamberlain Polonius, his son Laertes and other members of the court accompany the king and Queen, Claudius and Gertrude. They speak of the mourning of the death of his brother, King Hamlet. He also says that desecration prohibit excessive grief. Next he speaks of Fortinbras who demands the surrender of the lands lost by his father to King Hamlet. Claudius has sent Cornelius and Voltimand with a letter to the bedridden king of Norway to restrain his nephew. The suit of Laertes asks if he should leave for France after attending Denmark for the coronation ceremonies. And his father and the king give him permission.

The king and queens attention is now towards young hamlet. They are wondering why he is still grieving of his father's death. They then realize that it is sweet and commendable for hamlet to show love for is father by immediate grief. The queen asks hamlet to stay at Elsinore and hamlet says that he will obey her and the king commends him.

Hamlet is left alone in the room and expresses his innermost thoughts, and admits that he would commit suicide if it were not against god's law.

Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo then join hamlet. Hamlet greet them, but when Horatio explains that he has come for the funeral of his father, Hamlet responds that he has only come for the wedding. Hamlet in talking mentions that he has seen his father and Horatio expresses interest because of there own sighting. Alone once more the prince expresses his convection that the ghost appareled like his father, is an omen the "All is not well."

Act 1 Scene 3


At Polpnius' house Laertes is saying farewell to his sister, Ophelia. He warns her not to take Hamlet seriously and to protect her virtue. Polonius enters and offers advice to Laertes on how to conduct himself. After Laertes leaves Polonius turns to Ophelia and says that the prince has been attentive to her. He scoffs that the intentions are serious and honorable. Ophelia is to avoid the prince and the daughter replies that she will.

Act 1 Scene 4


This scene takes place on the platform near midnight. Horatio and Marcellus are on the platform and as arranged Hamlet has joined them. In the background there is music and dancing and drinking, Hamlet explains that this behavior has earned the Danes a reputation for drunkenness. Then the ghost appears. Hamlet addresses it "Hamlet, King, father." The ghost beckons to the prince. Both Horatio and Marcellus forcibly hold Hamlet back but he can not be restrained. Both are convinced that Hamlet is in a state of desperation, the two follow the ghost and Hamlet, the Prince.

Act 1 Scene 5


The ghost tells Hamlet that he is doomed for a time to walk on earth during the night and to endure purgatorial flames during the day for the sins he has committed during life.

The ghost then tells Hamlet that it was actually Claudius who killed King Hamlet, by pouring poison into the ear while sleeping. Hamlet is then called upon to kill his uncle to prevent him from ruling Denmark. However the ghost does not want the queen to suffer, she is to suffer enough with her conscience and in heaven.

He then calls upon Marcellus and Horatio to take a oath of secrecy about what they just witnessed. While they are at the platform Hamlet is moving about the platform and hears a voice saying "swear." They finally take the oath and Hamlet thanks his friends and then expresses his heartfelt desolation.

Act 2 Scene 1


In this scene Polonius instructs Reynaldo to joinery to Paris where Laertes is and to give him money, and also messages. He