Drama Lessons: Hamlet

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is the longest and one of the most famous plays of William Shakespeare. The exact date of composition is not precisely known, the first representation is probably between 1598 and 1601. The text was published in 1603.

The King of Denmark, Hamlet's father died recently, his brother Claudius has replaced King and less than two months after, married Gertrude, the widow of his brother. The spectrum of the king appears and tells his son that he was murdered by Claudius. Hamlet must avenge his father and to complete its task, simulates madness. But he seems unable to act, and at the strangeness of his behavior, we come to wonder how he kept his right. It is this temporary insanity on account of his love for Ophelia, Polonius' daughter, chamberlain and advisor to the king.

Hamlet has been highly critical analysis many and varied, psychoanalytical, thematic, stylistic, historical ...

Sources part
The story of Hamlet is in the Gesta Danorum (circa 1200) the writer Saxo Grammaticus. Francis Belleforest adapts in 1570, his tragic stories. The most direct source is likely a non-conserved part, attributed to Thomas Kyd who had first introduced the character of the spectrum. Most events are the product of imagination of Shakespeare.

The sources of the tragedy lie in the story in the Gesta Amleth Danorum. Horvendill, Amleth's father is murdered by his brother Feng, who later Gerutha wife, the widow of his victim. Amleth then feigns madness in order to be saved. It avoids the trap of a young girl and kills a spy hidden in the bedroom of his mother Gerutha. Amleth managed to intercept a letter for the King of England and sponsoring his assassination, what are the messengers who were murdered in his place. Amleth wife while the daughter of the King of England, returns to Denmark and Feng assassinates the king of England but secretly vowed to avenge. To this end, he sends Amleth with the Queen of Scots, who falls in love with him and wife in turn. Amleth then conquers the king of England and returned with his two wives in Jutland.


* Prince Hamlet / Amleth
* Claudius / Feng
* King Hamlet / Horvendill
* Gertrude / Gerutha
* Polonius / spy
* Ophelia / girl
* Rosencrantz / messenger
* Guildenstern / messenger

Main Characters
Prince Hamlet is the son of the first king of Denmark, also called "Hamlet." He is a student at the University of Wittenberg. The specter of his father instructed him to avenge his murder. He finally succeeds, but only after the royal family has been evicted and that he himself was mortally wounded by Laertes a poisoned sword.

Claudius, uncle of Prince Hamlet, is the current self-proclaimed king of Denmark. He married the widow of his brother, whom he succeeded. The spectrum of the latter accuses Claudius of murdering his sleep by giving him a deadly poison in his ear. At the end of the play, Claudius is killed by Prince Hamlet.

King Hamlet (designated as the "spectrum") at the beginning of the play, the ghost of King Hamlet appears to his son and urged him to avenge his poisoned by Claudius. Hamlet asks: is it the ghost of his father or is he being a demon? There will be no definitive answer.

Gertrude, Prince Hamlet's mother and widow of the late king, remarries shortly after the latter's brother, that Prince Hamlet, and all Shakespeare's time, consider incest. She died accidentally drank the poisoned wine intended for Hamlet.

Polonius, chamberlain of King Claudius. Father of Laertes and Ophelia. It is the most popular man in the kingdom providing only good news and information to the king and the kingdom helping much. He is concerned about the romance of Prince Hamlet and Ophelia, his daughter. He fears that Hamlet takes his virginity and did not marry her. It forbids the relationship with his daughter. It is mistakenly killed by Hamlet through a tapestry behind which he spied it. His tragic death will have serious consequences and totally disrupt the lives of his children.

Laertes, Polonius's son, is deeply attached to his sister Ophelia. It is in France for much of the play. Learning of the tragic death of his father, he thinks only of revenge. At the end of the play, because of the involvement of Hamlet in the death of his sister, he foments Claudius with a duel in which he kills Hamlet. Hamlet kills the same sword which he knows it is poisoned.

Ophelia, daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes and Hamlet share a romance despite having been implicitly warned against the failure of a marriage. Hamlet rejects him to accredit its own folly. The death of his father will be mad and give the death by drowning in a creek.

Horatio, Hamlet's friend, is not involved in the intrigues of the court. It will be the only important person to survive the final hour and can carry the story of Hamlet to posterity.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, friends of Hamlet, Claudius returned by the monitor. Hamlet the suspect quickly. They will be executed in England.

Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, is the son of the king of the same name killed in battle by Hamlet's father. Prince Fortinbras hopes of revenge.

Read also William Shakespeare


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