Hamlet Chapter Summaries

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Hamlet - Act One Summaries Scene 1 The play starts at night on the guard platform of a castle. In this scene, you learn that old Hamlet mysteriously died 2 months earlier, and his brother, Claudius, married Old Hamlet's wife, Queen Gertrude.

Scene 2 Scene 2 takes place in the castle, this is where Hamlet says his first words in the play, "[ASIDE]: A little more than kin, and less than kind", directed to Claudius.

Scene 3 Scene 3 is in a room with Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes. This scene is about Ophelia telling Polonius and Laertes that Hamlet is deeply in love with her. Polonius and Laertes warn Ophelia about love, and how Hamlet may break her heart.

Scene 4 This scene takes place on the guard platform of the castle. Hamlet criticizes Claudius for being drunk and says he gives Denmark a bad reputation. Hamlet asks the ghost if it is a good spirit or a wicked goblin, and the ghost tells Hamlet to follow it.

Hamlet follows the ghost, and says it is his fate that leads him on.

Scene 5 This scene takes place on the battlements. The ghost that resembles Old Hamlet appears and tells Young Hamlet that he was murdered by his uncle, Claudius, and Hamlet must avenge his murder.

Hamlet - Act Two Summaries Scene 1 Scene 1 is in a room, Polonius orders a servant to spy on Laertes who was in school in Paris. Ophelia enters the room and tells Polonius that Hamlet is acting weird. Polonius tells Ophelia that he is going to tell king Claudius that Hamlet's behavior is odd.

Scene 2 Scene 2 takes place in the castle. Claudius explains his concern over Hamlet's odd behavior. Polonius claims to know why Hamlet is acting so strange, he says he is acting bizarre because he is in love with Ophelia. Hamlet also wants more proof that Claudius was the murderer of Old Hamlet, and plans to watch his face during the play "The Murder of Gonzago", and look for any guilt. Hamlet also thinks that the ghost may be a devil.

Hamlet - Act Three Summaries Scene 1 Scene 1 is in the castle. When the scene begins, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tell Claudius about Hamlet's behavior. Claudius and Polonius are planning to hide behind a curtain when Hamlet and Ophelia are talking, and listen to what they are talking about. Claudius sees Hamlet as a threat and decides he wants him sent to England.

Scene 2 Scene 2 is at the castle. Hamlet tells the actors who are going to perform "The Murder of Gonzago" how to say their lines so that it is perfectly laid out in front of Claudius. Hamlet calls this play "The Mouse Trap".

Scene 3 Scene 3 is again in the castle. Claudius is becoming more scared about Hamlet's behavior and encourage Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take him to England as soon as possible, they assure him they will. Polonius enters the scene and tells Claudius that Hamlet is going to talk to his mother, and Polonius is going to listen to their conversation behind the curtains. Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius, but chooses not to because he is praying and Claudius should die in a state of sin because Old Hamlet did not have a chance to have his sins forgiven.

Scene 4 Scene 4 is in The Queen's Private Chamber. Polonius hides behind the curtains before Hamlet enters the room, and plans to listen to their conversation. Polonius makes a noise from behind the curtains and Hamlet stabs him, killing him. Suddenly, while Hamlet and Queen Gertrude are talking, the ghost appears and Hamlet tries to show the ghost to Gertrude, but only Hamlet can see him. The Queen thinks Hamlet has gone crazy.

Hamlet - Act Four Summaries Scene 1 Scene 1 takes place in the castle. Queen Gertrude tells Claudius that Hamlet had gone mad and has killed Polonius. Claudius wonders how he can omit Hamlet's murder because Claudius would have been the victim if he had been there.

Scene 2 Scene 2 is in the castle. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet up with Hamlet who refuses to tell them where Polonius' dead body is, but he agrees to go with them to go see the king.

Scene 3 Scene 3 is in the castle as well. Claudius admits how hard it is to control Hamlet because he is very loved and respected by everyone. Rosencrantz tells Claudius that Hamlet refuses to tell them where he has put Polonius' dead body. Claudius also says that as soon as Hamlet gets to England, he shall be put to death.

Scene 4 Scene 4 is on a plain in Denmark. Prince Fortinbras of Norway arrives and gets permission from Claudius to cross Denmark on his way to Poland. Hamlet learns that the Norwegian soldiers are going to fight Poland for a little area of land that has no profit, but only name.

Scene 5 Scene 5 is in the castle. Ophelia goes crazy and starts singing about her dead father. The king asks Horatio to watch over Ophelia carefully, and he leaves to do so. Laertes then enters in a storm asking Claudius for the body of his dead father. Claudius makes sure that Laertes thinks he is not responsible for the death of Polonius. Claudius tells Laertes that if he can find one person that says he was involved in the murder of his father, he would give him his kingdom.

Scene 6 Scene 6 is in the castle. Horatio is told by his servant that sailors want to give him letters. Horatio allows the servant to enter and tells him Hamlet is the only one allowed to send him letters. The letters say that the ship that Hamlet was on was attacked by pirates and Hamlet boarded the pirate ship. He was safely returned to Denmark, but owed the pirates a favor.

Scene 7 Scene 7 takes place in the castle yet again. Claudius told Laertes that Hamlet killed Polonius and that Hamlet tried to hill him too. Laertes asked Claudius why he did not punish Hamlet, he said it was because Queen Gertrude is devoted to Hamlet, and since Claudius is devoted to Queen Gertrude, he did not want to corrupt his life. Queen Gertrude enters and says that Ophelia has drowned and is dead. Laertes is raged and wants revenge for his dead family members, this makes the audience think that he is going to take it all out on Hamlet.

Hamlet - Act Five Summaries Scene 1 Scene 1 takes place in a churchyard. Two clowns enter and talk about Ophelia's death, whether it was an accident, or suicide. Hamlet and Horatio enter the grave site, and talk about how a skull used to be a human head and what the person could have been, and now their skull is added of the collection of bones to toss around. Laertes and Hamlet both jump into Ophelia's grave and grapple, fighting. Laertes and Hamlet agree to a swordfight.

Scene 2 Scene 2 takes place in the castle again. Hamlet and Horatio enter the castle. Hamlet tells Horatio how when he was at sea, he found Claudius' instructions to behead Hamlet in England. Quickly, Hamlet re-wrote the instructions to execute Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet and Horatio discuss the sword fight that is going to take place between Hamlet and Laertes. Horatio thinks Hamlet will lose, but Hamlet thinks that he will win because he has been practicing. Claudius wants Hamlet dead, so he awards the winning swordsman a cup of wine. If Hamlet does not die by the sword, he will drink the wine that is poisoned. Gertrude picks up the cup of poisoned wine and drinks from it, unknowingly. Hamlet swings his sword at Claudius and kills him. Then Laertes and Hamlet die. When Prince Fortinbras returns, he is shocked at the number of dead bodies, and learns what happened, and gives Hamlet a military burial with full honors.