Hamlet- A brief overview of the play scene by scene + more

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark


a) Time: Sixteenth Century

b) Place: Denmark

c) Preliminary situation: King Hamlet, King of Denmark is killed. Hamlet the Prince\'s uncle,
Claudius, receives the throne and marries Queen Gertrude.


a) Initial Incident: A ghost appears to Marcellus and another guard who decide to inform Hamlet of
it\'s presence.

b) Rising Action:

1.2 Claudius, the new King, is holding court and thanks his subjects for their support. He
then sends an ambassador to Norway to protect from an invasion from Fortinbras, Hamlets second
cousin. He gives Laertes permission to return to France but will not allow Hamlet to go to
Wittenburg. Hamlet feels alone and is upset that his mother married so shortly after her husband\'s
death. The guards arrive and tell Hamlet about the ghost and Hamlet agrees to join them that night in
search of the ghost, his father.

1.3 At Polonius\'s room, Laertes says good-bye to his sister Ophelia and tells her not to
trust Hamlet. Polonius arrives and says good-bye Laertes and offers him advice. He then talks to
Ophelia about not seeing Hamlet and then orders her stay away from him.

1.4 Claudius is drinking the night and Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus see the ghost again.
The ghost signals to Hamlet to come, but the others try and hold him back. Hamlet struggles free
and moves towards the apparition.

1.5 The ghost tells Hamlet that he is the spirit of his father and that he was not poisoned, but
murdered. He demands that Hamlet avenge his death by murdering the killer, King Claudius.
Hamlet promises to get revenge and orders the other to swear they haven\'t seen anything with the
help of the ghost.

2.1 Polonius sends his servant, Reynaldo, to Paris to spy and ask about Laertes. Ophelia
then enters the room and tells her father that Hamlet was visiting and was completely mad. Polonius
believes that Hamlet has gone crazy due to the rejection from Ophelia and rushes off to inform the

2.2 King and Queen send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, old school buddies, to spy on
Hamlet and determine why he has gone crazy. Polonius tells everyone that Hamlet is crazy because
of unreturned love. Claudius isn\'t quite convinced that Hamlet really is crazy but agrees to help
Polonius spy on him. Hamlet, when confronted by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, pretends to be
mad so no one will find out about the ghost and what Hamlet knows. Then, a group of touring
actors enters the scene and Hamlet makes one of them recite a speech he likes. When finished,
Hamlet realizes that the actor read the speech with more emotion than Hamlet had for avenging his
fathers death. Hamlet then convinces the actors to put on a play similar to his father\'s death so he
could tell by Claudius\'s reaction whether he was guilty or not.

3.1 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern return and tell Polonius and Claudius that they couldn\'t
find a reason for Hamlets madness. Polonius then decides to place Ophelia where he and Claudius
can listen in on their conversation, hers and Hamlets. Hamlet is nice to her at first, but when he
suspects someone is listening, he becomes abusive and cruel to her. Claudius, who is no fool,
realizes that Hamlet is not crazy because of Ophelia, so decides to send Hamlet away to England
because he is starting to fear his own life. Polonius persuades Claudius not to send Hamlet away
until after he has talked with Gertrude.

3.2 Hamlet and Horatio watch as the actors do the play. Hamlet is mean again to Ophelia,
but all is sudden when Claudius gets upset and cancels the play. It\'s at this point that Hamlet knows
that Claudius did in fact murder King Hamlet. Hamlet is convinced later by Guildenstern and
Rosencrantz to talk with Gertrude.

c) Climax: Hamlet kills Polonius instead of Claudius, and once you kill someone, you can\'t turn

d) Falling Action:

3.4 After killing Polonius, Hamlet verbally attacks his mother for marrying so shortly after
her husbands death. Gertrude starts to believe that Hamlet isn\'t mad, when the ghost comes back in
the room, and only Hamlet can see it. Gertrude then decides again that he is crazy. Hamlet leaves
with Polonius\' body and begs his mother to leave Claudius.

4.1 Gertrude tells Claudius that Hamlet murdered Polonius. Claudius then sends
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and the body.

4.2 Hamlet doesn\'t tell them where the body is.

4.3 Hamlet is brought to Claudius