Simple Summaries



Sarah Frank

Background: His uncle kills his dad and marries his mom but nobody knows

Act 1 Scene 1 of Hamlet

·       First line: “Who’s there?” is sort of like the theme of the play

·       “Long live the King!” is the password to be let in

·       Barnardo and Francisco are switching posts

·       Barnardo tells Francisco to get Marcellus and Horatio to stand with him and then they are suddenly there and ask Barnardo if the “thing” has “appeared again”

o  The thing = the ghost

o  Horatio doesn’t believe it’s real

o  Marcellus says he brought Horatio for him towitness

·       The ghost appears!

o  “in the same figure like the king that’s dead. ”Aka the ghost has a resemblance to Hamlet’s dead dad

·       Horatio is scared and starts asking the ghosts questions

·       The ghost leaves and they blame it on Horatio yelling

·       Horatio was scared and is worried something bad is going to happen


Act 1 Scene 2 of Hamlet

·       The king (Hamlet’s uncle Claudius) is convincing the kingdom to keep him as king

o  “We with wisest sorrow think on him.” He pretends to grieve.

·       He admits to marrying his sister-in-law, Gertrude

·       King Claudius says that he is sad but he is still happy with the kingdom and is marriage

·       KingClaudius says he is sending a letter to the King of Norway saying his nephewwas trying to take over and invade, thus saving their kingdom!

·       Laertes,Lord Chamberlain’s son, says he wants to go back to France and Claudius saysokay

·       Hamletcalls Claudius: “A little more than kin and less than kind.”

·       Claudius asks “how is it that the clouds still hang on you?” (why is he still wearing mourning black clothes?”

·       Hamlet’s mom suggests to take off the mourning clothes and move on

o  “All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.”

·       Hamlet says it’s not just clothing that’s for grief, he is still sad inside: “Seems, madam? Nay, it is.”

·       King Claudius says everyone loses a father and that he can be Hamlet’s father

o   “you must know your father lost a father, that father lost his”

·       Claudius doesn’t want Hamlet to go back to school at Wittenberg (which Hamlet wants) and Gertrude agrees, saying she wants him to stay home

o   “In going back to Wittenberg, it is most retrograde to our desire. And we beseech you, bend you to remain here in the cheer and comfort of our eye, Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.”

·       Hamlet agrees reluctantly so Claudius plans festivities

·       Hamlet wishes hecould die but won’t because suicide is a sin

·       Hamlet is stillsad that his father his dead and his mother has moved on to his uncle

o   “She married, O most wicked speed to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets.”


Act 1 Scene 3  of Hamlet

·       Laertes is preparing to go back to school in Paris

·       Laertes tells his sister Ophelia to avoid Hamlet (her suitor) because Hamlet will not value her since he is of a higher rank

·       Ophelia calls him a hypocrite “recks his own rede”

·       Polonius comes in and tells Laertes how to live in Paris

o  “Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.”

o  He’s sort of full of himself and wants to show offwhat he knows

·       Laertes AGAIN tells Ophelia not to get with Hamlet

·       Ophelia says she will listen and fills Polonius in

o  She is dutiful but also in love…

·       Poloniusagrees that Hamlet will only want her in order to have sex

·       Opheliaagrees to obey her father and not have a relationship with Hamlet

·       Characters:

o  Polonius works with Claudius

o  Laertes and Ophelia are siblings

o  Polonius is Laertes’s and Ophelia’s dad


Act 1 Scene 4 of Hamlet

·       Horatioand Marcellus meet up with Hamlet

·       Hamlet is worried: “My fate cries out”

·       Hamlethates the king and his behavior

·       Horationotices the Ghost (Hamlet’s dad)

·       Theydon’t know if the ghost is good

o  “airs from heaven or blasts from hell”

o  “wicked or charitable”

·       Hamlet knows the ghost is is father

·       The ghost says “Revenge his foul and most natural murder.”

·       The ghost says “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown.”            

o  Hamlet now knows Claudius killed his dad. “O, my prophetic soul! My uncle!”

·       The ghost is also disappointed and disgusted by his ex-wife: “It went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage, and to decline upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor to those of mine. But virtue, as it never will be moved, though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven.”

·       The ghost, before leaving, says “Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.”

·       Hamlet is left to figure out if he should kill his uncle as revenge or let them be

·       Hamlet concludes that he will act crazy to find out the truth

·       Hamlet feels cursed that he has to seek his dad’s revenge. He says “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right! Nay, come, let’s go together.”

·       It becomes clear that Hamlet is not a warrior. Rather, he seeks justice instead of revenge.


Act 2 Scene 1 of Hamlet

·       “Inside Elsinore, Polonius gives his servant Reynaldo money and notes to take France. Polonius tells Reynaldo what he expects him to do on his mission abroad—Reynaldo is to gather information on what Laertes is up to in Paris by infiltrating the fringes of Laertes’s social scene and finding out, from young Danes and Parisians in his orbit, what kind of man Laertes is turning out to be.”

·       “Polonius suggests that Reynaldo pretend to be a casual acquaintance of Laertes and try to gossip with his friends about Laertes’s problems withdrinking, gambling, and women in order to gauge their responses to theseassertions and discern whether Laertes really does have problems with thesevices. Polonius is proud of his clever scheme to spy on his son, though the oldman seems to have trouble keeping track of his own logic as he lays out theplan for Reynaldo.”

·       “Just as Reynaldo exits to board a ship to France, Ophelia enters looking pale and in a state of fright. Polonius asks her what has happened, and she tells him that just now, as she was sewing alone in her room, Hamlet entered unannounced and uninvited with his shirt unbuttoned andhis stockings hanging around his ankles. Ophelia remarks that Hamlet looked “as if he had been loosed out of hell.””

·       “Ophelia goes on to state that Hamlet grabbed her by the wrist and stared at her for a long while before gently releasing her with a sigh and departing her room without dropping his eyes from her face. Ophelia says she fears Hamlet really is in love with her. Polonius suggests Ophelia go with him to see Claudius, so that they can inform him of the “violent” affection Hamlet has developed for Ophelia.”


Act 2 Scene 2 of Hamlet

·       Claudius invites R and G (Hamlet’s friends) to spy on Hamlet and figure out what is wrong with him

o  “Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Moreover that we much did long to see you, The need we have to use you did provoke Our hasty sending”

·       The queen pays them

·       G says: “we both obey, And here give up ourselves in the full bent To lay our service freely at your feet, To be commanded.”

o  They are Hamlet’s good friends but they turned so quickly

·       The queen tells them to start: “Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz. And I beseech you instantly to visit My too much changèd son”

·       They leave and Polonius runs in and tells Claudius that Hamlet is insanely in lovewith Ophelia and that is what the problem is

o  Also he says the ambassadors are there

o  “I have found The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.”

·       Claudius successfully ends the issues with Fortenbrass and lets him cross Denmark to go fight the Polish people

o  He quickly took care of the problem

·       Claudius and Polonius plan to hide behind a curtain. Ophelia will go find Hamlet and they are going to try to see if he is really obsessed with her (I don’t thinkhe is).

o  Polonius says: “Take this from this, if this beotherwise. If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though itwere hid, indeed, Within the center.”

o  After they say he frequently walks around in thelobby, Polonius says: “At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.”

·       Hamletwalks in reading a book        

·       Hamletand Polonius go back and forth

o  “You cannot, sir, take from me anything that Iwill more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life”Hamlet says

·       Lots ofconversations…

·       Claudius wants to trick Hamlet into going after Claudius so then Claudius can kill Hamlet first


Act 3 Scene 1 of Hamlet

·       Claudius and Gertrude talk about Hamlet, R, and G

·       R and G haven’t been able to figure out why Hamlet is sad but they tell the king and queen that Hamlet is excited for the play

·       They all leave

·       Polonius directs Ophelia to the lobby, where Hamlet would be, and hides with the king

·       Hamlet says “To be, or not to be: that isthe question” while speaking to himself

o   Translation: to kill myself or not (ormaybe to be something or not)

o   It’s like an internal philosophical debate

o   Hamlet can’t be Hamlet: he has to beversions of himself that he doesn’t want to be (like a prince who can’t marry acommoner)

o   He is clearly very depressed

·       Hamlet spots Ophelia and Ophelia says she wants to express love for him (as per her instructions)

·       Hamlet says he never loved her and calls her a whore

o   He tells her to become a “breeder of sinners” and go to a nunnery (whorehouse)

·       He says women make men lose control and are dishonest by wearing makeup

·       Hamlet says no one should get married

·       Claudius comes out of hiding and concludes that Hamlet is clearly not head over heals for Ophelia

·       Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England to clear his mind

·       Polonius still thinks Hamlet is in love with Ophelia so he suggests that, after the play, Hamlet is sent to Gertrude’s chambers for another set-up


Act 3 Scene 2 of Hamlet

·       Hamlet gives a long speech to the players about how to act in this play

·       Hamlet as R and G to get he players ready

·       Horatio comes and Hamlet praises hisability to control himself

·       Hamlet asks Horatio to watch Claudius since Horatio knows Claudius is a murderer

·       The lords and ladies enter and Hamlet tells Horatio he is going to start acting strange…which he does

·       Hamlet asks Polonius about his acing career and makes erotic “jokes” to Ophelia

·       In the play, a king and queen are clearly in love and the queen leaves while the king sleeps and is murdered.

·       The murderer tries to seduce the queen (like Claudius did to Gertrude) and she falls for it

·       The play is literally just what Claudius did to Hamlet’s dad

·       Hamlet keeps making comments and teases Ophelia with sexual advances

·       Claudius now knows Hamlet knows so he gets up and asks them to turn on the lights. He runs out and the audience follows.

·       Hamlet is left with Horatio in the theater

·       Hamlet and Horatio agree that the kingobviously knows they know and is guilty

·       Hamlet is still acting kind of crazy


Act 3 Scene 3  of Hamlet

·       R and G come and tell Hamlet that his mom wants him

·       The king tells R and G that they need to get Hamlet to go to England

o   He is worried Hamlet will kill him so he wants to get rid of Hamlet first

o   R and Gare saying that every small thing impacts the kingdom

·       Polonius comes to escort Hamlet to his mom and plans to listen in

o   He is spying for Claudius

·       Hamlet says he will but to give him amoment. He plans to be totally honest but not lose control.

o   “I will speak daggers to her, but use none.”

·       The king confesses but Hamlet doesn’t killhim because he thought the king was praying

o   he says he committed “the primal eldest curse” = murder

o   he says it’s bad and prays for forgiveness

o   Hamlet doesn’t want Claudius to go to heaven


Act 3 Scene 4 of Hamlet

·       Polonius brings Hamlet to Gertrude and then hides to eavesdrop

·       Hamlet asks what the deal is and she say she made Claudius mad

·       “You shall not budge.” he threatens her

·       The queen freaks out and yells for help

·       Polonius makes some sort of movement behindthe curtain and Hamlet thinks it’s Claudius so he kills him.

·       Hamlet is basically like “oops, thought youwere my uncle”

·       Hamlet points out that Claudius is theworse version of his dad and that Gertrude’s libido is messing everything up

o   He demands: “what judgment Would step from this to this?”

o   He tells her: “Nay, but to live In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed, Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love Overthe nasty sty!”

·       Hamlet’s dad’s ghost appears to Hamlet and tells Hamlet to treat his mom better

o   “step between her and her fighting soul. Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works. Speak to her, Hamlet.”

·       Gertrude thinks he is insane and hallucinating

o   “Alas, how is ’t with you, That you do bendyour eye on vacancy And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse?”

o   “Upon the heat and flame of thy distemperSprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?”

·       Hamlet says Gertrude needs to realize whatshe did and stop sleeping with Claudius. He asks if she knows that Claudiusintends to send him away.

·       Hamlet reveals he thinks R and G are working for the king

·       He leaves and takes Polonius’s body


Act 4 Scene 1 of Hamlet

·       Claudius asks Gertrude about where Hamletis.

·       R and G come but Gertrude asks they leave

·       Gertrude tells Claudius about Hamlet being crazy and killing Polonius

·       Claudius gets worried because he could have been the one killed. He decides to ship him off to England.

·       Claudius sends R and G to get Hamlet, who seems fine with being sent away

·       Claudius and Gertrude decide to try and dispose of Polonius’s body and cover it up


Act 4 Scene 2 of Hamlet

·       R and G find Hamlet and ask where he is

·       Hamlet says he’s at supper…but he is the supper…for worms

·       He is suddenly anti-R and G


Act 4 Scene 3  of Hamlet

·       Claudius tells his courtiers that the people love Hamlet so he cannot be punished. Instead, he’s just banished. (Because that makes sense….LOL)

·       R tells him that Hamlet won’t spill about where Polonius is

·       Claudius brings in Hamlet and demands to know but Hamlet says “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm. ”He is hinting at the circle of life and specifically, death.

·       Hamlet suggest Claudius go search for Polonius in hell

·       Claudius’s men go find Polonius’s body and Claudius tells the King of England to make sure Hamlet is killed.


Act 4 Scene 4 of Hamlet

·       Hamlet sees Fortinbras leading his troops to Poland and finds out they are going to war over nothing

o  He is confused by this

·       By contrast, Hamlet DOES have reason to go at his enemy… yet he doesn’t


Act 4 Scene 5 of Hamlet

·       A court man says that Ophelia has gone insane

·       Horatio says that if she’s crazy, that brings unwanted attention. Gertrude then agrees to go talk with her.

·       Ophelia is singing a weird song about love and is incoherent in conversation

·       Claudius assumes Polonius dying has driven her crazy

·       Claudius recaps Gertrude about everything thathas been going on

o   Laertes is here and is mad Polonius is dead

·       The courtiers hear Laertes and a mob of angry people trying to break in

·       Laertes tells Claudius he wants his father’sbody. Claudius is not phased.

·       Laertes is also upset about his sister goingcrazy

·       Claudius promises Laertes that revenge will beserved


Act 4 Scene 6 of Hamlet

·       Hamlet writes to Horatio saying pirates took over the ship and took him captive. They then brought him back to Denmark in return for a favor. Hamlet asks Horatio to give the rest of the letters to the king and come meet him.


Act 4 Scene 7 of Hamlet

·       Claudius tells Laertes that Hamlet meant to kill Claudius but killed Polonius instead

·       Laertesis confused why Claudius didn’t punish Hamlet. Claudius says he has selfcontrol but really, he sent Hamlet away to get killed.

·       The messenger arrives with the letters Hamlet asked Horatio to deliver.

·       When Claudius realizes Hamlet is alive, he works with Laertes on a plan to kill him.

o  Plan A: They are going to fence but Laertes’s sword will be dipped in poison.

o  Plan B: They will poison him

·       Gertrude says Ophelia fell in the brook and drowned

·       Laertes erupts


Act 5 Scene 1 of Hamlet

·       Two gravediggers are arguing about Ophelia’s burial

o  They discuss Christianity, the bible, etc

o  One says that since Ophelia killed herself, shedoesn’t deserve a Christian burial

·       Thegravediggers are clearly drunk

·       Hamlet and Horatio come and notice the gravediggers are drunk

o  “Has this fellow no feeling of his business? Hesings in grave-making.”

·       They start talking with the first gravedigger and he says that he’s been digging graves since Hamlet’s dad defeated Fortinbras

·       Hamlet is doing word play and throwing skulls

·       Hamlet talks about life and death

·       Hamlet asks the gravedigger who one of the graves belongs to

·       The gravedigger says it is for a woman

·       Hamlet asks whose skull a random skull is. The digger says it belonged to the king’sjester

·       Hamlet and Horatio see Gertrude, Claudius, and Laertes come with a coffin. They hide to listen in.

·       Hamlet notices that it’s not a full Christian funeral… Laertes notices too and argues with the priest about it. Claudius agrees that she should have a full Christian funeral. The priest says no because Ophelia killed herself. Laertes is angry!

·       Hamlet realizes it is Ophelia

·       Laertes insults Hamlet and Hamlet goes after Laertes, bickering about who loved her more

o  “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?”

·       Hamletsays he will be buried with her

o  “Dost thou come here to whine? To outface me withleaping in her grave? Be buried quick with her, and so will I.”

·       Gertrudesays Hamlet is mad

·       Claudiustells Horatio and Gertrude to watch over Hamlet


Act 5 Scene 2 of Hamlet

·       Hamlet says he believes in determination

·       Hamlet confides in Horatio that he looked through R and G’s cabin on the pirate ship and found letters to the king in which he discovered Claudius wanting to kill him.

·       Horatio doesn’t believe it but Hamlet shows him the letter

·       Hamlet duplicated the style of the letter and made it seem like the king ordered R and G be beheaded. He basically says it’s karma.

·       Horatio is angry at Claudius for everything he’s done

·       Hamlet tells Horatio that he is going to kill the king.

·       Hamlet regrets getting into it with Laertes

·       Osriccomes in and tells Hamlet that Laertes wants to duel. Hamlet accepts.

·       A lord comes in with Claudius’s instructions. Hamlet says he is ready for the duel whenever. The lord says that’s fine but Gertrude wants him to be honorable before the duel.

·       Horatio is worried about Hamlet losing but Hamlet isn’t

·       Claudius starts the duel by having Hamlet and Laertes clasp hands. Hamlet asks for forgiveness and Laertes reluctantly accepts.

·       Osric brings out the swords, Claudius sets out wine

·       They duel…blah blah blah

·       Claudius puts a pearl of poison in Hamlet’s wine

o  “Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.Here’s to thy health”

·       Claudiusassures Gertrude that Hamlet will win.

·       Gertrude is nervous so she drinks Hamlet’s wine…

·       Claudius freaks out

·       Laertes says: “My lord, I’ll hit him now” but Claudius says no since Hamlet’s back wasturned

·       Gertrude falls and Osric says: “Look to the Queen there, ho!”

·       Hamlet takes the poisoned sword

·       Gertrude says to Hamlet: “No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.”

·       Laertes blames the king: “Thy mother’s poisoned. I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.”

·       Hamlet stabs the king and pours the poison down his throat

·       Laertes blames the king again: “He is justly served. It is a poison tempered by himself.”

·       Hamlet says: “O, I die, Horatio! The potent poison quite o’ercrows my spirit.” then dies

·       King Fortinbras and some English people enter and sees Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude,and Claudius dead

o  “O proud Death, What feast is toward in thine eternal cell That thou so many princes at a shot So bloodily hast struck?”

·       Fortinbras gets the kingdom because everyone is dead

·       The end!