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Hamlet: A Shakesperean Play

By Rohan Rege and Patrick Reed

Rohan Rege

on 10 September 2012

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Transcript of Hamlet: A Shakesperean Play

A Shakespearean Play Hamlet Characters

Hamlet - Protagonist. A bitter 30 year old. Son of Gertrude and the late king Hamlet. He is the nephew of the present king Claudius, but he hates him for scheming and killing his father.

Claudius- Antagonist. Hamlet's uncle. The King of Denmark. He is driven by his lust for power. A ambitious politician. Occasionally shows signs of guilt and human feelings. For instance, his love of Gertrude seems sincere.

Gertrude - Neutral. The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who cares for status rather than truth.

Polonius - Antagonist. The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, old man. Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia.

Horatio - Protagonist. Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play.

Ophelia - Neutral. Polonius’s daughter. Hamlet loves her. Ophelia is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Polonius and spies on Hamlet.

Laertes - Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother, a young man who spends much of the play in France. Passionate and quick to action.

Fortinbras - The young Prince of Norway, whose father,the king,was killed by Hamlet’s father. Now Fortinbras wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honor.

The Ghost - The ghost of Hamlet's father, who says that Claudius murdered him, calls upon Hamlet to avenge him. However, it is not entirely certain whether the ghost is what it appears to be, or whether it is something else. Hamlet speculates that the ghost might be evil, and sent to deceive him and tempt him into murder, and the question of what the ghost is or where it comes from is never definitively resolved.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior.

Osric - The foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes.
Voltimand and Cornelius - Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.
Marcellus and Bernardo - The officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore and who summon Horatio to witness it. Marcellus is present when Hamlet first encounters the ghost.
Francisco - A soldier and guardsman at Elsinore.
Reynaldo - Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes. Hamlet is about a prince whose father, the king, was murdered. Hamlet knows its his Uncle Claudius who has murdered his father, but he has no evidence. Hamlet makes a play reenacting his fathers death, and when the death came Claudius stood up and left. This convinced Hamlet and his friends that it was Claudius. Hamlet goes outside and decides to kill Claudius, but Claudius is doing something. He was praying. Hamlet knew if he killed him while he was praying Claudius would go to heaven. So, he didn't. Claudius sent Hamlet off to England, and sent the King of England orders to kill him. Polonius's son comes to Denmark for his father's death. Claudius tells him that it is Hamlet's fault for his father's death.Laertes, Polonius's son, challenges Memorable Quotations

1. "That it should come to this!" (Act I, Scene II)
Explanation 1. Hamlet says how he cannot believe his mother would marry his father's brother (i.e., Hamlet's uncle). This quote shows Hamlet's fury and shock at his mother's remarriage. In Hamlet's mind, the world is in chaos and the remarriage is the reason for things spiraling out of control.

2. "Frailty, thy name is woman!" (Act I, Scene II)
Explanation 2. The "woman" he specifically refers to is his mother. Hamlet felt she was weak, or not strong enough to mourn his father longer. Hamlet goes on further to say that not even an animal or beast, who has no reasoning skills, would have abandoned the mourning so quickly. All in all, this shows how angry and confused Hamlet is by his mother's remarriage.

3."Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." (Act I, Scene III)
Explanation 3. Here Polonius is giving his son, Laertes, sound advice before Laertes returns to Paris. Polonius is really saying loaning money to other people is dangerous. Often, people don't pay you back and you lose a friend because of the failed transaction. On the flip side, it is distasteful to borrow money because it is impolite and usually indicates you are living outside of your means.

4. "This above all: to thine own self be true." (Act I, Scene III)
Explanation 4. Again, Polonius is giving advice to his son, Laertes. Simply put, Polonius is telling his son "be yourself." In the context of the play, Polonius is also telling Laertes to be a gentleman. Overall, Polonius's advice helps reveals a theme of irony that threads throughout the play. Neither Polonius nor Laertes listen to the advice that Polonius gives in this scene.

5."Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." (Act I, Scene IV)
Explanation 5. At the end of Scene IV, a guard, Marcellus, says these famous words to Horatio. After Hamlet follows the ghost, Marcellus and Horatio know they have to follow as well, because Hamlet is acting so impulsively. Marcellus's words are remarking on how something evil and vile is afoot. This moment could be interpreted as foreshadowing of the impending deaths of most of the principle characters.

6. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." (Act II, Scene II)
Explanation 6. At this point of the play, Hamlet and Polonius are interacting onstage, but this quote is technically spoken by Polonius to the audience, in an aside. What Polonius is saying is that, even though Hamlet is talking crazy, it actually makes sense, or it has a "method." Polonius's assertion is ironic because he is right and wrong. Polonius believes Hamlet is acting "mad" because Hamlet's love of Ophelia has driven him to such. While Polonius is correct to think that there is reason behind Hamlet's actions, he is incorrect as to the cause. Hamlet is purposefully acting mad to disguise his true mission to avenge his father's murder.


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