Hamlet Summary - Plot, Theme, Literary Devices & Characters


Hamlet Summary

Are you studying Hamlet in English lessons, and do you wish to get prior knowledge? Then our Hamlet summary will be very helpful for you. Get to learn the major events of the famous Tragedies of Shakespeare.

The Tragedy of Hamlet is a long play written by William Shakespeare between 1599 and 1601. The play is set in Denmark, and the first act revolves around Prince Hamlet's revenge on Claudius. This novel has three versions; the first was published in 1603, the second in 1604, and the third in 1623. Each of the versions may include lines and passages different from the others.

This play was written during political uncertainty and fear, which moves the events. In England, Europe, Queen Elizabeth First's royal succession was uncertain since she didn't t have a child

Are you in need of a high-quality, 100% plagiarism free essay or online class help?
Place your order and get 100% original work.

Author Shakespeare is an English playwright, poet, and actor. He is a great writer in the English language.

 Hamlet Overview

If you want a fun way to learn Hamlet act, place an order for a Hamlet essay. Apart from Hamlet's summary, we offer a guide on definition essay writing help.

The play starts with Hamlet mourning the death of his father. He also laments about his mother, Gertrude, who gets married to Claudius, his father's brother, a month after his death. Hamlet's father appears to the son as a ghost, telling him that Claudius murdered him and that he wants him to avenge his death.

Hamlet doubts his dad's death was natural, and thus, he must act. But before taking any drastic action, he pretends to be mentally ill as he investigates the claims made against him. His situation worsens, and he accidentally kills another man, Polonius, instead of Claudius. Polonius is the father to his girlfriend Ophelia, and when she gets the news, she kills herself by drowning.

The events culminate in a sword fight between Ophelia's brother and Hamlet. Laertes dips his sword in poison, resulting in Hamlet's death. Gertrude and Claudius also die at the end of the play.

This is our Hamlet summary overview in simple language; let's break down the story into sections.  In case you need someone to write for you a Hamlet summary essay, place an order with us.

Summary: Tragedy of Hamlet Acts 1-5

Hamlet Act 1 

As the play opens, Horatio and two place guards are having a meeting. The guards alert Horatio about the sighting of a ghost that looks like the late King. The ghost appears later to the group, and they decide to tell Hamlet.

Gertrude gets married to Claudius at a beautiful wedding, and he takes the throne. Hamlet isn't happy about the situation. Horatio informs the Prince about the ghost.

Polonius is conversing with his son and daughter, Laertes and Ophelia. They advise Ophelia to break the romantic relationship with the Prince.

Hamlet sees the ghost, and it reveals to him that Claudius murdered him, so he should avenge his murder. Hamlet agrees to his father's wish and starts investigations. He feigns a mental illness and informs Horatio and the guard about his plan.

Hamlet Act 2 

Hamlet executes his plan by acting strangely. Ophelia breaks up with the Prince when she hears of his extreme behavior. His father, Polonius, tells Claudius of Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia, and they decide to spy on him.

Gertrude is also concerned about his son and requests his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to visit him and find out what's wrong. Hamlet fails to answer their questions.

A traveling theater arrives at the palace. Hamlet requests them to act about a man who kills his brother and marries his wife to provoke Claudius's guilt.

Act 3 Hamlet

Ophelia meets with Hamlet to return the gifts she had received from him. Hamlet reacts weirdly by telling Ophelia to join a nunnery. His reaction confuses Claudius and Polonius, who has been spying on him. They realize Ophelia isn't the cause of his madness. They decide that the Prince should be sent away to England.

The players perform the play as advised, but, Claudius storms in and stops them. Hamlet gets convinced that Claudius is the murderer and decides to eliminate him.

Hamlet goes to visit his mother, and they get into an argument. He hears someone and thinks it's Claudius and stabs him, only to realize it is Polonius. The ghost appears and warns him not to upset his mother.

Act 4 Hamlet Summary

Claudius sends Hamlet away with his two friends to England. On the way, the Prince realizes that Claudius has asked the English king to kill him. He thought of a plan to save himself.

Ophelia goes crazy with his father's grief and decides to kill herself. His brother blames Hamlet for his sister's and father's death and decides to revenge. He decides to team up with Claudius and plan how to kill Hamlet.

Hamlet Act 5 

When Hamlet arrives, he finds Ophelia's funeral procession. He gets into a fight with Ophelia's brother. A duel is arranged with a plan to kill Hamlet. Laertes's sword is dipped in poison, and some poison is put in Hamlet's wine. 

Hamlet refuses to drink wine ta the duel. Unfortunately, her mother drinks and dies instantly. The fight starts between the two, and Hamlet is killed.

What about the secret of his dad's murder by Claudius? Well, place an order for the Hamlet plot and find the answers to this question from our able staff. Perhaps you also want to learn how to write a book summary; you can still get these skills from our guide.

Characters of Hamlet

  1. Hamlet – a son of the late king and nephew to the current king Claudius. He is the protagonist. Hamlet is miserable, bitter, pessimistic, and full of hatred towards his uncle and disgusted about his mum's relationship with him. Sometimes he is indecisive and hesitant, and other times he makes rash and impulsive decisions.
  2. Claudius – King of Denmark, brother to the late King, and Hamlet's uncle. He is the play's antagonist. Sexual appetites and greed for power drive him to kill his brother. Claudius occasionally shows signs of guilt for his actions and sincerely loves Gertrude.
  3. Polonius – chief counselor to the king. He is a verbose, conventional old man. He pushes the theme of appearance and reality as his pursuit of power makes it impossible to identify his true self.
  4. Ophelia –Polonius's daughter and Hamlet's girlfriend. She shows honesty and wit but gets manipulated by the men around her.
  5. Horatio – a loyal and trusted friend to Hamlet. He is eager to help Hamlet and keeps his secret from seeing the ghost and his plan of acting crazy. He is a very concerned friend and implores Hamlet not to engage in the duel, which leads to the death of four; Claudius, Laertes, Gertrude, and Hamlet.
  6. Laertes – Polonius’s son.  He is a student in France, worldly, hotheaded, and obsessed with his family's reputation. Unlike Hamlet, who is passive, he is active, though their character of vengeance is the same.
  7. Gertrude – Denmark’s queen and Hamlet's mother. She loves her son dearly. She seeks affection and status more than truth.
  8. Rosencrantz – Hamlet's friend and an old classmate.
  9. Voltimand and Cornelius – Danish ambassador in Norway
  10. Osric – a member of the court
  11. Marcellus – a Danish soldier
  12. Barnado – a Danish soldier
  13. Francisco – a  Danish soldier
  14. Reynaldo – Polonius's servant
  15. Fortinbras – Prince of Norway. He is motivated by a desire to grow his realm and seek retribution for the murder of his father by Hamlet's father.

We have given you a brief analysis of Hamlet characters, but you can get more details of their role by ordering our services. We also offer a guide on how to write a book review; these skills will help you review The Tragedy of Hamlet.

Hamlet Setting

The play Hamlet is set in the late 15th Century around Elsinore's royal palace in Denmark. In the palace, the Prince is restless and in a dilemma about his father's death. The second act takes place inside the walls of Elsinore, in court.

Again, the author writes the book when the world shifts to the Modern era. It was a time when social codes were starting to fade, and other new ideas were being accepted, like the humanist. 

The Plot of Hamlet

The late King Hamlet and his wife, Queen Gertrude, were the parents of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. Claudius, his uncle, is king and has wed Hamlet's mother. Norway and the kingdom of Denmark are on the verge of war, and an invasion (headed by the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras) seems likely.

Three sentries inform Hamlet that his father's ghost has been sighted. The hurried marriage of Gertrude and Claudius raises suspicion. They send two of Hamlet's friends to him to find out what is causing his melancholy because they are also worried about it. Hamlet finds out at away that his companions are now spies. He decides to track his father's death. When he does, the spirit tells him Claudius killed him and commands Hamlet to exact revenge.

Although he is unsure whether to believe the ghost, Hamlet concurs. To find out the truth, he starts to act insane. Based on this pretended insanity, his encounters with other characters have several misunderstandings and fatalities. In the end, Fortinbras travels from Norway to claim the throne after Hamlet and the royal court—including his mother and uncle—have perished.

Themes in Hamlet

You will encounter the following Hamlet themes: revenge, corruption, and death. Keep reading to grasp the details. Could you be searching for a college essay writing service, place an order on our platform.


The two young men in the play are on a mission of revenge for their father's death. These men are Hamlet, the Prince, and Fortinbras, the king of Denmark. Laertes, also the son of Polonius, wants revenge for his sisters and father's death which he blames on Helmet.

The author presents to us how these characters practice revenge. Helmet is cautious and very provocative, while Laertes is hotheaded and acts immediately without a second thought. 

Greedy for Power

Claudius kills Hamlet's father so that he can inherit his kingdom. He eyed the power for a long time and couldn't see his dream of getting it coming to pass since his brother had an heir. So, his only solution was to eliminate the kind and inherit even his wife.

Plight of Women

Ophelia and Gertrude are the main female characters in the play. Their experience illustrates a life of oppression and unfairness that women face in society. These two ladies don't have a say in their lives or the situations around them. 

Death and Corruption

Most characters have been killed due to greediness for power, revenge, and corruption. Apart from the physical deaths, there is the death of moral values. This society is rotten, and there is a lack of humanity. One can easily kill another to fulfill their selfish intentions. Again, the perpetrators' friends can't offer opinions on their actions or advice to change. The court system is also filled with corruption; people plot and scheme against each other.

Literary Devices of Hamlet

Hamlet's literary devices are several:  alliteration, allegory, paradoxes, similes, and metaphors.

  1. Alliteration – where the same sounds and words enhance sentences' rhythm and add a phonetic quality.
  2. Allegory – this story shows the allegory that the universal man faces on Earth. These problems are good and evil in every generation. Hamlet faces both issues and reflects on whether he is doing good or bad.
  3. Conflict – there is a conflict when Hamlet kills Polonius, and the second, Hamlet fights a duel with Laertes. The other mental conflict is the thoughts in Hamlet's mind and those of his opponent King Claudius.
  4. Simile and Metaphors – the author has used this language to make this play interesting. For example, "no traveler returns, puzzles will in the same figure as the dead king".
  5. Paradoxes – where the author uses contradicting ideas in the same statement. "meat baked for the funeral was served for the marriage ceremony".

Have you been tasked to write a speech assuming you are King Claudius addressing your people? Are you wondering how to go about it? We have a guide on how to write a commemorative speech; it will be enlightening for you.

 Hamlet Genre

As we have discussed, Hamlet is a play that belongs to the tragedy genre; that's why people refer to it as The Tragedy of Hamlet. A tragedy is a story the protagonist or the hero goes from good fortune to bad. For instance, a narrative may start in a good mood but ends in disorder, thus becoming a tragedy.

In our Hamlet Summary, the events around the main character turn from bad to worse. We find him mourning his dad and getting into a deeper mess after the ghost appears to him and when seeking revenge.

Historical Context of Hamlet

Hamlet is written towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's rule. People were anxious about the long reign's succession at this time since it signaled the end of a protracted period of unrest and the beginning of a new era of tranquility.

To Finalize

Hamlet's book presents the issues that occur in our society. We see greed for power, death, revenge, and politics. The author presents the themes and the plot in an interesting way and structure. We hope this summary has informed you about this book's major subjects. If you still have more questions, place an order for our services from the platform.

Share this:

Do you need any homework, essay writing or online class help?

Hamlet Summary - Homeworkmarket

author Melaine

Meet the author


Melanie is a seasoned writer with more than 8 years of experience. She is passionate about academia and works off the clock to ensure she write the topnotch content for her readers.

Get Homework Help Now

Related Posts

Why Choose Us

  1. Confidentiality and Privacy
  2. 100% Original Work
  3. 24/7 Customer Support
  4. Unlimited Free Revisions
  5. Experienced Writers
  6. Real-time Communication
  7. Affordable Prices
  8. Deadline Guaranteed