- Year Published: 1599-1602.
- Pages: 289.
Upon being summoned from his German school back to his home in Denmark for attending his father’s funeral, Prince Hamlet becomes depressed. It is shocking for him when he discovers that his mother Gertrude has already married his Uncle Claudius who now sits on the throne. Hamlet calls the marriage as ‘foul incest’ and suspects a foul play since his uncle has crowned himself as the king despite Hamlet being the true heir to the throne.
The ghost of King Hamlet visits the castle and Hamlet’s suspicions are further confirmed. The complaining ghost says that he cannot rest in peace since he was murdered and is now spending his days walking on Earth in Purgatory. He calls on Hamlet and tells him to avenge his death but also instructs him to spare Gertrude, he tells Hamlet to let her fate be decided by heaven. Claudius defends himself by saying telling Hamlet that the Ghost poured poison into King’s ear in his sleep.
Hamlet then behaves in a mad manner so that he can observe the conversations and interactions within the castle but gets even more confused and begins to question the trustworthiness of the Ghost. What in case the ghost is an evil scheme sent to trick him into murder? Hamlet is in agony as he thinks of himself as a coward and cannot stop thinking, words hold great importance to the reflective Hamlet but his world only prizes actions.
To test the truth behind ghost’s tale, Hamlet enlists a group of players to perform a modified version of a play known as The Murder of Gonzago. Hamlet has modified the play to include a scene where the murder as described by the ghost is recreated; he calls the modified play as ‘The Mousetrap’. The staged murder scene reveals that Claudius is conscience-stricken upon watching the play; he leaves the room saying that his vision is unclear and he cannot breathe properly. Hamlet then resolves to murder Claudius now that he’s convinced of his villainy, but notes that ‘conscience does make cowards of us all’.
Due to his reluctance to kill Claudius, Hamlet results in the death of six other people. The first death is of Polonius who is stabbed by Hamlet through a wall-hanging while the old man is spying on Hamlet and Gertrude in the private chamber of Queen. Hamlet is punished for this act as he is exiled to England by Claudius. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern being school acquaintances of Hamlet had previously been called by Claudius from Germany to Denmark to spy on Hamlet. They are now instructed by Claudius to hand over Hamlet to the King of England for execution but Hamlet realises the plot and instead makes arrangements such that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern end up being hanged.See full document