|Created by||William Shakespeare|
|Family|| King Hamlet (father; deceased)|
Gertrude (mother; deceased)
Claudius (uncle, stepfather; deceased)
Prince Hamlet is the title role and protagonist of William Shakespeare's c. 1600 tragedy Hamlet . He is the Prince of Denmark, nephew to the usurping Claudius, and son of King Hamlet, the previous King of Denmark. At the beginning of the play, he struggles with whether, and how, to avenge the murder of his father, and struggles with his own sanity along the way. By the end of the tragedy, Hamlet has caused the deaths of Polonius, Laertes, Claudius, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two acquaintances of his from childhood. He is also indirectly involved in the deaths of his love Ophelia (drowning) and of his mother Gertrude (mistakenly poisoned by Claudius).
The play opens with Hamlet deeply depressed over the recent death of his father, King Hamlet, and his uncle Claudius' ascension to the throne and hasty marriage to Hamlet's mother Gertrude. One night, his father's ghost appears to him and tells him that Claudius murdered him in order to usurp the throne, and commands his son to avenge his death.
Claudius sends for two of Hamlet's friends from Wittenberg, to find out what is causing Hamlet so much pain. Claudius and his advisor Polonius persuade Ophelia—Polonius' daughter and Hamlet's love interest—to speak with Hamlet while they secretly listen. Hamlet enters, contemplating suicide ("To be, or not to be"). Ophelia greets him, and offers to return his remembrances (tokens of his love interest), upon which Hamlet questions her honesty and tells her to "get thee to a nunnery" (a suggestion of either erotic criticism of hypersexuality, or of escape from the Danish succession crisis that will become bloody.)
Hamlet devises a test to see whether Claudius is guilty: he hires a group of actors to perform a play about the murder of a king in front of the royal court, and has Horatio gauge Claudius' reaction. Claudius demands the play be stopped half through because it causes him to experience guilt. When Claudius leaves the on stage "audience" deeply upset, Hamlet knows that the ghost was telling the truth. He follows Claudius into his chambers in order to kill him, but stops when he sees his uncle praying; he does not want to kill Claudius while he is in a state of grace because Hamlet wants Claudius to suffer in purgatory and Claudius has just attempted to cleanse his sin through confession. A second attempt on Claudius' life ends in Polonius' accidental death.
Claudius, now fearing for his life, sends Hamlet to England, accompanied (and closely watched) by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Alone, Claudius discloses that he is actually sending Hamlet to his death. Prior to embarking for England, Hamlet hides Polonius' body, ultimately revealing its location to the King. Meanwhile, the death of Ophelia's father has driven her insane with grief, and Claudius convinces Ophelia's brother Laertes that Hamlet is to blame. Claudius proposes a fencing match between the two. Laertes informs the king that he will further poison the tip of his sword so that a mere scratch would mean certain death. Claudius plans to offer Hamlet poisoned wine if that fails. Gertrude reports that Ophelia has died.
In the Elsinore churchyard, two "clowns", typically represented as "gravediggers", enter to prepare Ophelia's grave. Hamlet arrives with Horatio and banters with one of them, who unearths the skull of a jester whom Hamlet once knew, Yorick. Ophelia's funeral procession approaches, led by Laertes. Hamlet interrupts, professing his own love and grief for Ophelia. He and Laertes grapple, but the fight is broken up by Claudius and Gertrude.
Later that day, Hamlet tells Horatio how he escaped death on his journey, disclosing that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been sent to their deaths instead. A courtier, Osric, interrupts to invite Hamlet to fence with Laertes. Despite Horatio's warnings, Hamlet accepts and the match begins. After several rounds, Gertrude toasts Hamlet, accidentally drinking the wine Claudius poisoned. Between bouts, Laertes attacks and pierces Hamlet with his poisoned blade; in the ensuing scuffle, Hamlet is able to use Laertes' own poisoned sword against him. Gertrude falls and, in her dying breath, announces that she has been poisoned.
In his dying moments, Laertes reveals Claudius' plot. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword, and then forces him to drink from his own poisoned cup to make sure he dies. In his final moments, Hamlet names Prince Fortinbras of Norway as the probable heir to the throne. Horatio attempts to kill himself with the same poisoned wine, but it was stopped by Hamlet, so he will be the only one left alive to give a full account of the story. He then wills the throne of Denmark to Fortinbras before dying.
Perhaps the most straightforward view sees Hamlet as seeking truth in order to be certain that he is justified in carrying out the revenge called for by a ghost that claims to be the spirit of his father. The 1948 movie with Laurence Olivier in the title role is introduced by a voiceover: "This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind."
T. S. Eliot offers a similar view of Hamlet's character in his critical essay, "Hamlet and His Problems" (The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism). He states, "We find Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' not in the action, not in any quotations that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone...".
Others see Hamlet as a person charged with a duty that he both knows and feels is right, yet is unwilling to carry out. In this view, his efforts to satisfy himself on Claudius' guilt and his failure to act when he can are evidence of this unwillingness, and Hamlet berates himself for his inability to carry out his task. After observing a play-actor performing a scene, he notes that the actor was moved to tears in the passion of the story and compares this passion for an ancient Greek character, Hecuba, in light of his own situation:
The name Hamlet occurs in the form Amleth in a 13th-century book of Danish History written by Saxo Grammaticus, popularised by François de Belleforest as L'histoire tragique d'Hamlet, and appearing in the English translation as "Hamblet". The story of Amleth is assumed to originate in Old Norse or Icelandic poetry from several centuries earlier. Saxo has it as Amlethus, the Latin form of the old Jutish Amlethæ. In terms of etymology the Old Icelandic name Amlóði comes from the Icelandic noun amlóði, meaning ‘fool,’ suggestive of the way that Hamlet acts in the play. Later these names were incorporated into Irish as Amlodhe. As phonetic laws took their course the name’s spelling changed eventually leaving it as Amlaidhe. This Irish name was given to a hero in a common folk story. The root of this name is ‘furious, raging, wild’.
It has also been suggested that Hamlet's hesitations may also be rooted in the religious beliefs of Shakespeare's time. The Protestant Reformation had generated debate about the existence of purgatory (where King Hamlet claims he currently resides). The concept of purgatory is a Catholic one, and was frowned on in Protestant England. Hamlet says that he will not kill his uncle because death would send him straight to heaven, while his father (having died without foreknowledge of his death) is in purgatory doing penance for his sins. Hamlet's opportunity to kill his uncle comes just after the uncle has supposedly made his peace with God. Hamlet says that he would much rather take a stab at the murderer while he is frolicking in the "incestuous sheets", or gambling and drinking, so he could be sure of his going straight to hell.
Ernest Jones, following the work of Sigmund Freud, held that Hamlet suffered from the Oedipus complex. He said in his essay "The Oedipus-Complex as an Explanation of Hamlet's Mystery: A Study in Motive":
Harold Bloom did a "Shakespearean Criticism" of Freud's work in response.
It has also been suggested that Hamlet, who is described by Ophelia as "th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state, / The glass of fashion and the mould of form" (Act III, Scene i, lines 148–9), is ultimately a reflection of all of the interpretations possessed by other characters in the play—and perhaps also by the members of an audience watching him. Polonius, most obviously, has a habit of misreading his own expectations into Hamlet’s actions ("Still harping on my daughter!"), though many other characters in the play participate in analogous behaviour.
Gertrude has a similar tendency to interpret all of her son’s activities as the result of her "o’erhasty marriage" alone. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tend to find the stalled ambitions of a courtier in their former schoolmate’s behaviour, whereas Claudius seems to be concerned with Hamlet’s motivation only so far as it reveals the degree to which his nephew is a potential threat. Ophelia, like her father, waits in vain for Hamlet to give her signs of affection, and Horatio would have little reason to think that Hamlet was concerned with anything more pressing than the commandment of the ghost. And the First Gravedigger seems to think that Prince Hamlet, like that "whoreson mad fellow" Yorick, is simply insane without any need for explanation. Several critics, including Stephen Booth and William Empson have further investigated the analogous relationship between Hamlet, the play, and its audience.
One aspect of Hamlet's character is the way in which he reflects other characters, including the play's primary antagonist, Claudius. In the play within a play, for instance, Gonzago, the king, is murdered in the garden by his nephew, Lucianus; although King Hamlet is murdered by his brother, in The Murder of Gonzago—which Hamlet tauntingly calls "The Mousetrap" when Claudius asks "What do you call the play?"—the regicide is a nephew, like Prince Hamlet. However, it is also worth noting that each of the characters in the play-within-a-play maps to two major characters in Hamlet, an instance of the play's many doubles:
Hamlet is also, in some form, a reflection of most other characters in the play (or perhaps vice versa):
In Act V, scene I of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the First Gravedigger is asked by Hamlet at about line 147 and following, how long he has "been a grave-maker." His reply appears to determine the age of Hamlet in a roundabout but very explicit manner. The Gravedigger says that he has been in his profession since the day that Old Hamlet defeated Old Fortinbras, which was "the very day that young Hamlet was born." Then, a little later, he adds that "I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years." According to this logic, Hamlet must be thirty years old. Yorick, the dead jester whose skull Hamlet holds during this scene, is said to have been in the earth "three-and-twenty years," which would make Hamlet no more than seven years old when he last rode on Yorick's back.
This view of Hamlet's age is supported by the fact that Richard Burbage, the actor who originally played the role, was thirty-two at the time of the play's premiere.
However, a case has been madethat at an early stage in Hamlet—with its apparent history of multiple revisions—Hamlet was presented as a sixteen-year-old. Several pieces of evidence support this view. Hamlet attends the University of Wittenberg, and members of the royalty and nobility (Elizabethan or medieval Danish) did not attend university at age 30. Additionally, a 30-year-old Prince Hamlet would clearly have been of ruling age. Given his great popularity (mentioned by Claudius), this would raise the question of why it was not he, rather than his uncle, who was elected to succeed to the throne upon the death of King Hamlet.
The line about the length of the Gravedigger's career does not appear in the First Quarto of Hamlet; in that text Yorick is said to have been in the ground only twelve years. Furthermore, in Belleforest, possibly one of Shakespeare's sources for the story, it is said that Amleth has "not attained to man's estate." And in the original spelling of the Folio text, one of the two authoritative texts for the play, the Gravedigger's answer to how long he has "been a grave-maker" reads "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heere, man and Boy thirty yeares.." "Sixteene" is usually rendered as "sexton" (a modernization of the second quarto's "sexten"), even in modern texts that take F1 as their "copy text." But modernizing the punctuation—a normal practice in modernized texts—renders "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heere—man and Boy thirty yeares." In other words, this reading suggests that he has been a gravedigger for sixteen years, but that he has lived in Denmark for thirty. According to this logic, then, it is the Gravedigger who is thirty, whereas Hamlet is only sixteen.
Although, the difference between a sexton and a grave digger must also be taken into account. A sexton oversees many different jobs around the church and surrounding areas. A grave digger simply digs graves. There are sextons who also dig graves and some that do not. It is completely possible that the Gravedigger has been a sexton for 30 years, but has not been digging graves for that entire time. This could be another example of the character's very round-about way of speaking.
However, this reading has the disadvantage that in the Folio the length of time Yorick has been in the ground is said to be twenty-three years, meaning that he had been dead seven years by the time Hamlet was born. Another theory offered is that the play was originally written with the view that Hamlet was 16 or 17, but since Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed, and not read, these lines were likely changed so Burbage (who was almost always the protagonist in Shakespeare's plays) could play the role.
The day we see Hamlet die in the theatre, something of him dies for us. He is dethroned by the spectre of an actor, and we shall never be able to keep the usurper out of our dreams.
Maurice Maeterlinck (1890).
Below are listed some of the notable acting portrayals of Hamlet.
In the comic book series Kill Shakespeare , Hamlet is the central character. After he is exiled from Denmark, his ship is attacked and he washes up on England. He is encountered by Richard III of England, who tells him that he is the "Shadow King", a figure of prophecy. He tells Hamlet that he must find and kill the wizard William Shakespeare and retrieve his quill. He goes off, but is relentlessly pursued by assassins from Richard and his lieutenant, Iago. He is eventually captured by the fool known as Falstaff, who helps him get out of the woods after an encounter with a being known as a Prodigal. He is shot in the leg by Iago, but is saved by Juliet Capulet and Othello. Hamlet stops Othello from killing Iago, but is taken captive by Juliet and her resistance army. After going with them into a town and seeing the cruelty of Richard, Hamlet flees into the woods, where he is forced to face the ghost of his father. He defeats the ghost and is eventually picked up by two travellers: Lysander and Demetrius.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1601. It is Shakespeare's longest play, with 29,551 words. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is an absurdist, existential tragicomedy by Tom Stoppard, first staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966. The play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The main setting is Denmark.
Hamlet is a 1948 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name, adapted and directed by and starring Laurence Olivier. Hamlet was Olivier's second film as director and the second of the three Shakespeare films that he directed. Hamlet was the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is the first sound film of the play in English.
Hamlet is a 1996 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as Prince Hamlet. The film also features Derek Jacobi as King Claudius, Julie Christie as Queen Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Michael Maloney as Laertes, Richard Briers as Polonius, and Nicholas Farrell as Horatio. Other cast members include Robin Williams, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, John Gielgud and Ken Dodd.
Hamlet, also known as Hamlet 2000, is a 2000 American drama film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, set in contemporary New York City, and based on the Shakespeare play of the same name. Ethan Hawke plays Hamlet as a film student, Kyle MacLachlan co-stars as Uncle Claudius, with Diane Venora as Gertrude, Liev Schreiber as Laertes, Julia Stiles as Ophelia, Steve Zahn as Rosencrantz, Bill Murray as Polonius, and Sam Shepard as Hamlet's father.
Laertes is a character in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Laertes is the son of Polonius and the brother of Ophelia. In the final scene, he mortally stabs Hamlet with a poison-tipped sword to avenge the deaths of his father and sister, for which he blamed Hamlet. While dying of the same poison, he implicates King Claudius.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet. They are childhood friends of Hamlet, summoned by King Claudius to distract the prince from his apparent madness and if possible to ascertain the cause of it. The characters were revived in W. S. Gilbert's satire, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and as the alienated heroes of Tom Stoppard's absurdist play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which was adapted into a film.
Horatio is a character in William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet.
In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Gertrude is Hamlet's mother and Queen of Denmark. Her relationship with Hamlet is somewhat turbulent, since he resents her marrying her husband's brother Claudius after he murdered the king. Gertrude reveals no guilt in her marriage with Claudius after the recent murder of her husband, and Hamlet begins to show signs of jealousy towards Claudius. According to Hamlet, she scarcely mourned her husband's death before marrying Claudius.
Hamlet is a 1969 British drama film adaptation of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, starring Nicol Williamson as Prince Hamlet. It was directed by Tony Richardson and based on his own stage production at the Roundhouse theatre in London. The film also stars Anthony Hopkins as King Claudius, Judy Parfitt as Queen Gertrude, Marianne Faithfull as Ophelia, Mark Dignam as Polonius, Gordon Jackson as Horatio, and Michael Pennington as Laertes.
Hamlet, or Hamlet: The Drama of Vengeance, is a 1921 German film adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Hamlet starring and produced by Danish silent film actress Asta Nielsen. It was directed by Svend Gade and Heinz Schall. The film was shot at the Johannisthal Studios in Berlin.
Hamlet is a grand opera in five acts of 1868 by the French composer Ambroise Thomas, with a libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier based on a French adaptation by Alexandre Dumas, père, and Paul Meurice of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a 1990 tragicomedy film written and directed by Tom Stoppard based on his 1966 play of the same name. Like the play, the film depicts two minor characters from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who find themselves on the road to Elsinore Castle at the behest of the King of Denmark.
What follows is an overview of the main characters in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, followed by a list and summary of the minor characters from the play. Three different early versions of the play survive: known as the First Quarto ("Q1"), Second Quarto ("Q2"), and First Folio ("F1"), each has lines—and even scenes—missing in the others, and some character names vary.
Richard Burton's Hamlet is a common name for both the Broadway production of William Shakespeare's tragedy that played from April 9 to August 8, 1964 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, and for the filmed record of it that has been released theatrically and on home video.
Hamlet is a 2009 television film adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2008 modern-dress stage production of William Shakespeare's play of the same name, aired on BBC Two on 26 December 2009. It was broadcast by PBS' Great Performances in the United States on 28 April 2010.
Hamlet is a 1913 British silent drama film directed by Hay Plumb and starring Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Gertrude Elliott and Walter Ringham. It is an adaptation of the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare made by the Hepworth Company and based on the Drury Lane Theatre's 1913 staging of the work.
Hamlet is a 1961 German mystery drama film directed by Franz Peter Wirth. The screenplay by Wirth is adapted from the William Shakespeare tragedy of the same name. The film was initially broadcast on television on 1 January 1961 in West Germany before being released theatrically in the United States in 1962.
Ophelia is a 2018 British-American romantic drama film directed by Claire McCarthy and written by Semi Chellas about the character of the same name from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Based on the novel by Lisa Klein, the film follows the story of Hamlet from Ophelia's perspective. It stars Daisy Ridley in the title role, alongside Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton and Devon Terrell.
Hamlet. XXI Century is a 2009 four-episode television miniseries by Yuri Kara. It is an adaptation and modernization of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet.