Shakespeare's Hamlet

Kyle O'Sullivan

Shakespeare's Life

  • Born on April 23, 1564.
  • Baptized on April 26, 1564.
  • Third child of John and Mary Shakespeare and had many brothers and sisters.
  • Attended King's New Grammar School and was taught basic reading and writing.
  • He never attended a University.
  • Married at 18 to a 26 year old Anne Hathaway and had their first daughter Susanna months later.
  • His sonnets were published without his permission and unlikely he wanted his poems revealed to the world.
  • He left his family for 20 years to pursue his career.
  • His first works were histories and comedies, and later wrote tragedies and tragicomedies.
  • 15 of his 37 plays were performed before 1597.
  • He died in April 23, 1616.
  • Fun Fact: Pencils were invented about the time Shakespeare was born.
  • Fun Fact: Shakespeare had six different signatures.
  • Fun Fact: He was buried in the Holy Trinity Church

Shakespeare's Work

  • William Shakespeare is famous for many reasons and it is why people to this day continue to read his poems and plays. His unique writing style is composed of metaphors and rhetorical phrases that make up the plays that don't always connect with the plot or the characters. His sonnets are mainly addressed towards a young man whom he has a romantic relationship with. In his sonnets, he tries to convince the man to marry a woman and have kids. Many people debate whether or not to read his sonnets as a work of fiction. The Renaissance period (1300-1600) has influenced William Shakespeare's writing. The upheaval in the accepted social hierarchy allowed him to explore the humanity of every character regardless of social position. When people would go watch his plays, the poorer audience members would pay one penny to stand in front of the stage. This was their days pay. The richer patrons would sit in galleries paying half a crown for their seats, or one eighth of a pound. In his plays, women are positively and negatively represented. Hamlet, mainly shows women who are a negative representation. For example, Queen Gertrude remarries soon after her husband's death due to Claudius. She shows disobedience and untrustworthiness by remarrying to Claudius, the man who killed her previous husband. Shakespeare is some of the most challenging reading material to read. Not only would some people suggest No Fear to understand his language better, but also underlining words and phrases helps learn the plot of the plays.

Hamlet Summary

The King of Denmark has just been killed by Claudius who is his own brother. The ghost of the old king persuades his son Hamlet to seek revenge on Claudius. Hamlet's plan is to act crazy and put on a play the describes the scene of his father's death. Claudius witnesses this play and states that he is guilty of his crime. Hamlet decides to kill Claudius, however he accidentally kills Polonius, Ophelia's dad whom he is in love with. Ophelia's brother, Laertes, is convinced by King Claudius to stage a "friendly" fight and kill Hamlet. The battle goes as planned, until Queen Gertrude drinks the poison wine that was left out for Hamlet. Meanwhile, Hamlet is cut by a sword with poison on it but then rebounds and wounds Laertes with the same sword. Hamlet stabs Claudius and makes him drink the poison and they all die.


The Nation as a Diseased Body

The play's early scenes delve into the sense of anxiety and dread that surrounds the transfer of power from one ruler to the next ruler. Throughout the course of the play, characters draw connections between the moral decisions of a ruler and the nation's health. In Hamlet, Denmark is made ill by the moral corruption of King Claudius and Queen Gertrude.

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Video SparkNotes: Shakespeare's Hamlet Summary
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Concrete Hamlet

  1. Hamlet is a tragicomedy which is a drama in which the motive is revenge for a real or imaginary injury.
  2. Where did Shakespeare get Hamlet from? Shakespeare got his story from other stories and myths known as Feng and Amleth, Titus Andronicus, and Historia Danica of Saxo Grammaticus.
  3. Hamlet Characters and their relationship to other characters:
  • The ghost - The deceased father of Hamlet who claims to have been murdered by Claudius and demands Hamlet to seek revenge.
  • Hamlet - The Prince of Denmark who seeks revenge for his dead father.
  • Claudius - Hamlet's uncle who killed Hamlet's father for power.
  • Gertrude - Queen of Denmark and Hamlet's mother.
  • Ophelia - Polonius's daughter whom Hamlet is in love with. She is dependent on men and spies on Hamlet.
  • Horatio - Hamlet's close friend who tells Hamlet's story after his death.
  • Polonius - Lord of Chamberlain of Claudius's court and the father of Ophelia and Laertes.
  • Laertes - Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother. He is angry at Hamlet for killing his father and decides to duel him.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet's strange behavior.