to Litonline cover/homeVCCS Litonline

Plot Summary for Hamlet


This demonstration uses two kinds of summary.  The first is for the entire play and is quoted from a Website; the second is mind and focuses on the scene.  You might use one or the other in a handout, PowerPoint, or webpage for your presentation.  The brackets at the end of the play summary allow me to add information.


When Hamlet returns to his elaborate palace at Elsinore after his studies, he finds his uncle Claudius married to his mother Gertrude. Bernardo, Horatio, and Marcellus show him a ghost who looks like his father, so Hamlet pursues him into the woods, where he is told to avenge his father's murder by his own uncle. Hamlet debates with himself, and even visualizes himself skewering Claudius from a confession box, but wants not to send him to heaven. When the king and queen bring Hamlet's school friends to see what is wrong with him as he puts on an air of madness, he assembles a play similar to his father's murder, which has him chased throughout the palace, and sent to Norway and to England. When Hamlet kills his girlfriend Ophelia's father, Polonius, counsel to the king [making her crazy and suicidal], her brother Laertes sets out to avenge his death [and hers]. Meanwhile, the Prince Fortinbras of Denmark, whose father was killed by old Hamlet, sets out to take the area lost in battle with him, often shown in flashbacks, as are many scattered memories throughout the film.  [In the final scene, Gertrude drinks poison set up by Claudius for Hamlet, Laertes dies when Hamlet stabs him with his own poisoned sword, and Hamlet use both poisons on Claudius before he dies himself from the wound Laertes gave him.]

Summary written by Scott Hutchins {sahutchi@cord.iupui.edu}

Internet Movie Database 1996 http://us.imdb.com/Plot?0116477 2/10/00

See also the Internet Movie Database ató http://us.imdb.com/ for reviews.

Summary of Excerpt from Scene 3.1

Having just contemplated suicide in front of Claudius and Polonius, Hamlet confronts Ophelia, who has been sent to return his love tokens in order to see if he is, as his fake note suggested, crazy over love of Ophelia.  Denying the gifts, Hamlet tests Ophelia's loyalty to him after claiming he didn't love her (as Hamlet heard her brother and father claim earlier to her); she lies about her father's whereabouts (he and the king are eavesdropping on the conversation), setting Hamlet off on a rant against women and marriage--partly against her, partly, it seems against his mother.  Hamlet's aim to convince Claudius that he is not a threat because he is crazy for love backfires and gets him shipped off to England for execution.


Click the purple quilt piece on
each root page to go to the Litonline sitemap.