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Video:Shakespeare: Hamlet Overview

with Becky Beth Benedict

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies. Watch this About.com video for an overview of the major events in Hamlet.See Transcript

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Transcript:Shakespeare: Hamlet Overview

Hi! I'm Becky Beth Benedict and I'm here for About.com. Today, we're going to talk about an overview of Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Background of Hamlet

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark is confronted by the ghost of his father's spirit, who urges Hamlet to seek revenge for his father's wrongful death and confides to Hamlet that the murderer is Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, who promptly married his mother and seized the throne of Denmark. Hamlet falls into a deep melancholy as he contemplates carrying out this revenge. Hamlet was involved in a romantic relationship with Ophelia, Polonius's daughter, but in his depression, he distances her from his heart.

Hamlet's Banishment

A troupe of traveling players create a theatrical foil as Hamlet has them present a play at Elsinore Castle which depicts a murder that parallels Claudius's assignation of Hamlet’s father. Claudius is disturbed by the performance and makes a hasty exit, confirming Hamlet's suspicions. In the events following the players' scene, Hamlet confronts his mother, notices a hidden figure in her room, stabs who he thinks is Claudius, but is actually Polonius. Claudius banishes Hamlet to England for this offense.

Claudius's Plot in Hamlet

Ophelia loses her grasp on sanity as the dramatic events pile up and she drowns herself. Her brother, Laertes comes to Denmark to mourn the loss of his family. At the same time Hamlet returns because his ship was attacked. Hamlet is struck by how the state of events has worsened, and questions life's purpose. Claudius plots with Laertes, who challenges Hamlet to a fencing match with a secretly poisoned blade and a poisoned cup on hand. The court gathers for the showdown. Hamlet is wounded, but fights on. Queen Gertrude accidentally drinks from the poisoned cup and falls dead.

Ending of Hamlet

In the confusions the swords are switched and Hamlet kills Laertes with the poisoned sword. Hamlet then enacts his father's revenge by stabbing and murdering Claudius, just moments before Hamlet succumbs to his own wounds. Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, arrives to see the collection of corpses, become the new ruler, and provide Hamlet with a soldier's burial.

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