Hamlet Final Summary and Analysis

Shakespeare is the author, lived during the 1500’s to 1600’s. He was a famous playwright, and had his own theatre that he wrote his plays for.


The setting is Elsinore, in Denmark. It is set during a similar time to Shakespeare, or before him.


Plot: Hamlet is a moody teenager, whose father recently died. His father’s ghost appears to him, and informs Hamlet that the current king (Hamlet’s uncle) killed King Hamlet, and that Hamlet should get revenge. Hamlet vows revenge. His family worries about him, especially his recently remarried (to his uncle) mother. His mother and his uncle seek out Hamlet’s old friends to spy on him and tell them what is wrong. Hamlet realizes that his friends are trying to spy on him. He also comes up with a plan to make sure that his uncle did actually kill his father, to verify what the ghost said. This plan involves a play that mimics what the ghost told Hamlet, and then watching the King’s reaction. Once the King reacts unfavorably, Hamlet starts making plans to kill him. Hamlet kills Polonius (mistaking him for his uncle) while talking with his mother. He is then sent to England, but he escapes and sends his old friends (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) to their deaths. He returns, realizes his girlfriend committed suicide, and attacks her surviving brother. They all head back to the castle, where his uncle and the brother are poisoning everything. A fencing match takes place, to kill Hamlet, but Hamlet poisons the brother, who poisons Hamlet. The queen drinks a cup of poison and dies. Hamlet makes the King drink poison so he dies. Hamlet hands the throne off to another prince (Young Fortinbras) before dying.



Hamlet – A young teenager who studies in Germany. His father just died, and he feels a strong sense of revenge against his uncle who killed him. He is quite intelligent, and driven.


Claudius – The younger brother of King Hamlet. He is shown to be quite cunning and deceitful, willing to kill his nephew to hold on to the throne with no challengers. He loves Hamlet’s mother, and never fights people in person.


Laertes – Overprotective older brother. He loves his family, and is popular with the inhabitants of the castle. Willing to do anything for his honor, including poison. Maybe easy to manipulate, or Claudius is really good at manipulating.


Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother and queen of Denmark. She loved King Hamlet dearly, and according to Hamlet had a very happy relationship with him. She makes Hamlet very angry by remarrying, and we see that she has very few doubts or regrets. She does speak with Hamlet before he sets off to England, where she agrees to keep his secrets, and starts to acknowledge that she may have done something wrong. While she loves Claudius, she kept her son’s secret from him.


Narrative Voice – Since it is a play, the only narrative voice are the directions, which are brief, and to the point. Very impersonal.

Style – Point of view is everyone, since it is a play, but we get more asides from Hamlet. Since Hamlet is the main character, we get more info from him, but he is not telling the story. Tone feels more dramatic than other Shakespeare plays. Lots of comparisons and flowy writing. Because many people are royalty, Shakespeare gives them blank verse lines, which are usually iambic pentameter. The tone is also serious, since this is a tragedy. There are lots of symbols. Main ones would be the poison that is used, and the “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Another symbol would be the deaths of the people representing the way royalty would be dying and losing power all across Europe.


Quotes: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Meaning is to show how a supernatural being can influence us all. Also relates to the poison I mentioned earlier, death, corruption, and decay.


“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” – this is rather interesting because it is being told to someone who ends up causing many different deaths. Despite the number of people that died due to Hamlet’s actions, his best friend Horatio still believes that Hamlet will go to heaven.


In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we are taught that inaction is the weakest and worst thing that man can do.


Setting – Hamlet is literally a prince. His job is to do things for his people. By neglecting that duty, he dooms Denmark. Plot – Hamlet fails to act on Claudius, preferring to make sure and dilly dally, before making too many bad decisions leading to his death. There is a lot of symbolism (that I saw) with not doing your job (inaction) and something being rotten in the state of Denmark. I can’t think of any imagery that supports this thesis, but the image of Claudius praying while Hamlet doesn’t attack him is fixated in my mind.


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