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Part 1: Summary
- Late 15th/ very early 16th century.
The Back Story
30 Years Ago
- Kings Hamlet of Denmark and Fortinbras of Norway settle a territorial dispute from which the Dane
emerges victoriously, killing the Norwegian, on the very day of his son Prince Hamlet's birth.
Present Time – Early November
- Claudius murders his brother, King Hamlet (and possibly assumes some sort of temporary stewartship of
Denmark before asserting his claim to the throne).
- Prince Hamlet returns to Denmark.
- Independently, Horatio likewise arrives from Wittenberg; Laertes from France.
- King Hamlet is buried, and Claudius becomes King.
- Prince Hamlet begins to court Ophelia.
- In Norway, Prince (King-to-be) Fortinbras begins to round up troops against Denmark to finally make up
for his father's long ago loss.
Play, Act 1
- Claudius marries Gertrude.
- The dead King's Ghost appears; first to Horatio and the Sentinels, then to Prince Hamlet, his son.
- Gertrude (with Claudius's assistance and to Hamlet's dismay) persuades Hamlet to stay in Elsinore.
- Laertes and Polonius warn Ophelia to keep Hamlet at a distance.
- Laertes returns to France.
- Claudius sends Voltemand and Cornelius as ambassadors to Norway to avert further hostilities.
Play, Act 2 – Act 4, Scene 4
- To much of the outside world, Hamlet has apparently gone mad.
- Hamlet breaks into Ophelia's bedchamber and confronts her.
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive in Elsinore.
- Voltemand and Cornelius return from Norway, having successfully completed their mission.
- Hamlet and Polonius/ the "fishmonger" scene.
- Arrival of the Players; the "Pyrrhus and Hecuba" monologue.
- "To be, or not to be;" and, "get thee to a nunnery."
- Hamlet and Horatio.
- The play designed to "catch the conscience of the King."
- Claudius wrestles with his conscience (or what's left of it).
- Hamlet confronts Gertrude and mistakenly kills Polonius.
- Worms, beggars, and where to find the slain Polonius.
- Claudius ships Hamlet off to England, and to his expected death (marshalled by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).
- Hamlet and his train of followers meet Fortinbras's army, now deployed against a meager patch of Polish territory.
Play, Act 4, Scene 5 – End
- Laertes returns from France.
- Ophelia has gone mad: songs, flowers, and sombre prophesies.
- Horatio, Claudius and Gertrude each receive letters from Hamlet, indicating his impending return.
- Claudius conspires with Laertes for Hamlet's death.
- Ophelia drowns.
- The gravedigger and Yorick's skull; Ophelia's burial; Hamlet confronts Laertes.
- Hamlet tells Horatio how he has averted Claudius's murderous plot on the way to England.
- Osric and the fall of a sparrow.
- The duel; "venom to thy work" at last.
- Fortinbras arrives in Elsinore, victoriously returning from Poland.
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Copyright 2002 – 2009: Ulrike Böhm, all rights reserved.