William Shakespeare and Hamlet

By, Brendan Black

Shakespeare's Life

When and Where was Shakespeare Born?

  • Shakespeare is said to have been born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon Avon.
  • Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church.

Shakespeare's Family

  • Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare and Mary Ardean. His father John was a glove maker and wool merchant.
  • Shakespeare had two older sisters Joan and Judith and three younger brothers Richard, Gilbert and Edmund.
  • There are few records of Shakespeare's childhood but scholars believe that he attended the King's New School. A school that focused on reading and writing.
  • On November 28, 1582 in Worcester, (Cantle bury Province) Shakespeare married his wife Anne Hataway. Shakespeare was only 18 at the time; while she was 26.
  • Together Shakespeare and his wife had three children; Susanna, Hamnet and Judith.

Acting and Writing Career

  • It didn't take long for Shakespeare to gain recognition as a writer and actor, as his name became well known, while he was still at a young age.
  • During the time period of 1593-1594, it is said that Shakespeare wrote a majority of his sonnets. Such as " Venus and Adonis" and his most well know "The Rape of Lucretia"
  • Shakespeare then went on to produce many of his plays from the time period of 1594-1611. Most of his plays were either histories or dramas such at Henry Vl, King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and of course Hamlet.

Death and Burial

  • Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in his home The New Place, in Stratford.
  • He died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52.
  • Shakespeare was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

Three Fun Facts

  1. Didn't leave much of his will to his wife, but rather, to his oldest daughter Susanna.
  2. Shakespeare's first collected edition of works was published in 1623 and is know as the First Folio.
  3. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writing in the english language-after the various writers of the bible.

Shakespeare's Work

1. Why are William Shakespeare’s (WS) works still read and studied in present day? Why is WS popular?

Shakespeare's works are still read and popular today as the theme of these plays teach readers messages that still relate to present day; therefore, allowing the reader to connect and learn from Shakespeare's writings.

4. Who were WS’s audience members? What kinds of messages did WS relay to his audience?

Shakespeare's audience members ranged from the poorest of poor to the richest of rich, and in most cases his audience members consisted of Kings and Queens. Shakespeare's plays consisted of a spiritual message to help connect to the viewers.

5.How are women positively and negatively represented in WS’s plays? Give an example from Hamlet.

Woman are positively and negatively represented in Shakespeare's plays in that many times his female characters display intelligence, vitality, and personal independence. While other times Shakespeare's female characters fall under the stereotype of the period in that they are oppressed and have a more inferior position. In Hamlet, Shakespeare's positive views on woman are displayed through the character Ophelia.

The Story

In the play Hamlet, the main character and protagonist Prince Hamlet starts off the story very depressed as he is on his return home from school for his fathers funeral. When Hamlet returns home he only finds that his mother has gone ahead and remarried his Uncle Claudius.Hamlet then goes on to believe that his father was murdered by his Uncle Claudius, in order to become King. The ghost of Hamlet then appears to the prince to tell him that his accusations are true. Hamlet then devises a plan called the Mousetrap, where he performs a play but adds in parts of the murder that the ghost told him, in order to see Claudius reaction. The plan proves true as Claudius becomes overwhelmed and has to leave the theater. This then leads to Hamlets plan to kill Claudius but on his way to killing Claudius he ends up killing six others Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Horatio, Gertrude and the queen.


1. The real Elsinore is located in Denmark

2. A Revenge Tragedy- is a style of drama, popular in England during the late 16th and 17th centuries in which the basic plot is a quest for vengeance.

3. Shakespeare likely got his idea for the story from ancient versions of a Danish Story.

The Characters

  • Hamlet the ghost- Hamlets conscience throughout the story that helps him decide whether or not to kill Claudius.
  • Hamlet the Prince- Prince of Denmark, the son of Queen Gertrude and King Hamlet, the nephew of the present King Claudius.
  • Claudius- Uncle of Prince Hamlet, who goes of to marry Queen Gertrude.
  • Gertrude- Mother of prince Hamlet, originally married to King Hamlet, but is now married to Claudius.
  • Ophelia- Polonius daughter and brother of Laertes.
  • Horatio- close and loyal friend of Hamlet.
  • Polonius- The Lord Of Chamberlian of Claudius court, father of Laertes and Ophelia.
  • Laertes- son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern- close friends of Hamlet that work for Claudius.