Free «Shakespeare’s Hamlet» Essay Sample

Study Guide: Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Authorship: Hamlet was produced between 1599 and 1601 and is frequently thought to be the utmost accomplishment of the world’s paramount dramatist William Shakespeare. Hamlet appears to be William Shakespeare’s lengthiest play.  Unabridged, it may take approximately five hours to act. Hamlet himself has over 1,500 lines -- greater than any other Shakespearean protagonist (Adams and Gould, 1977).

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Summary: Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark who was overwhelmed by his father's murder. In the interim, he has a bond with a young lady called Ophelia, however, they can never join in matrimony since she is not of noble family. Hamlet comes in contact with the spirit of his father, who communicates to him that his uncle, called Claudius, gave him poison and that is why he passed away. Hamlet is infuriated and pursues vengeance on Claudius, who wedded with Hamlet’s mother with the intention of getting at the throne, which was supposed to be Hamlet’s. One night, Hamlet is speaking with his mother when he understands that somebody is watching them and stabs the individual behind a drapery. He is upset when he discovers that it was Ophelia's father, who was a king’s worker. Ophelia loses her mind when she discovers that her loved one slew her father. She dies drowning in a river. Hamlet, at the same time, conspires vengeance against Claudius. At some point, he take part in a duel with Laertes, Ophelia's brother. Nonetheless, Hamlet is not aware of that Laertes as well as the king have covertly planned retaliation against Hamlet for murdering Ophelia's and Laertes' father. The king put a poison in a glass of wine while Laertes applied poisoned to his sword. Either of the two would certainly slay Hamlet. On the other hand, things go awry once the Queen takes the glass with poison and drops dead. Laertes cuts Hamlet's arm using his poisoned sword, giving Hamlet with sufficient time to accomplish his objective. He kills King Claudius, and likewise Laertes when he learns the sword had poisoned him. They all die at the end of the play.


Hamlet is unquestionably the most renowned play written in the English language. The world famous tragedy is a landmark in Shakespeare’s dramaturgical progress; the dramatist attained the prime of his creativity in this piece by means of his excellent representation of the hero’s battle with two conflicting sides: ethical veracity and the necessity to retaliate for his father’s assassination. Shakespeare’s emphasis on this struggle was a ground-breaking exodus from modern retribution tragedies, which were likely to vividly dramatize aggressive acts on stage, yet Shakespeare highlighted the hero’s quandary instead of the portrayal of blood-spattered feats (Allman, 1980).

Major Characters:


The main character of Shakespeare’s play. He appears to be the Prince of Denmark. Hamlet undergoes numerous difficulties and evils during the course of the play, particularly the finding that his father was killed by his uncle. He frequently reasons extensively, and is not swift to produce a choice. He does not appreciate this trait in himself, and wants to be spontaneous similar to Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway. He had studied at the University of Wittenburg prior to the beginning of the play. He is pessimistic, yet intellectual, and he it is frequently hard to say, if he is actually irrational or if he is simply fantasizing to get retaliation for his father's assassination.


 Hamlet’s adversary in the play and the newly crowned king of Denmark.  He is the “smiling, damned villain” of the work, a deceitful, licentious, and unethical statesman and a major exploiter of people as well as circumstances.  In spite of the gloom in his soul, his apparently candid love for Hamlet’s mother and his pains over his wrongdoings develop a more compassionate element to his character.

The Ghost

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The soul of the prince’s killed father.  The Spirit orders Hamlet to revenge for his killing by slaying Claudius, the new king, however, the exact source of this ghost is never made evident.  Hamlet dreads that it could be have been directed by the evil spirit to work him into accomplishment of a malevolent deed.  Shakespeare is alleged to have acted this part in the first staging of Hamlet.


An attractive young lady, Laertes’ sister and Hamlet’s beloved. Well-behaved and submissive, her insanity and following death fuel make brother want to avenge himself on Hamlet.


Brother of Ophelia. Laertes’ impulsive attitude to pursuing retaliation against Hamlet opposes Hamlet’s heavy doubtfulness concerning slaying Claudius.


Act 1, Scene 1

Assail- to take an attack aggressively with physically or verbally (Line 31)

Tenantless- refers to a tenant or occupier (Line 115)

Act 1, Scene 2

Mirth - joy or cheerfulness as revealed by or complemented with laughter (Line 12)

Dirge- a tune of sorrow or weeping; particularly one envisioned to go together with burial or memorial services (Line 12)

Visage- the appearance, the features, or face of an individual (Line 81)

Jocund- marked by or indicative of cheerfulness and active joyfulness (Line 125)

Tenable- able to be supported, upheld, or protected (Line 247)

Act 1, Scene 3

Libertine- An individual who is unreserved by tradition or ethics (Line 49)

Act 1, Scene 4

Swinish- signifying, or typical of pig (Line 19)

Act 1, Scene 5

Lewdness- sexual desire, covetousness (Line 54)

Act II, Scene 2

Promontory- a high part of a landscape going into a reservoir of water (Line 303)

Quintessence- excellence, the core of a thing in its untainted and most intensive form (Line 312)

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Act III, Scene 1

Calamity- a condition of profound sorrow or unhappiness initiated by major trouble or damage (Line 69)

Mould- a form of mold (Line 156)

Act III, Scene 2

Extant- presently or really in effect (Line 266)

Anon- straightaway, instantaneously (Line 267)

Pajock- a peacock (Line 288)

Act III, Scene 3

Noyance- damage (Line 13)

Gilded- to provide a pretty but frequently misleading look (Line 59)

Act III, Scene 4

Rood- a crucifix representing the cross on which Christ passed away (Line 14)

Bulwark- a robust backing or defense (Line 38)

Act IV, Scene 1

Pith- the indispensable part (Line 23)

Act IV, Scene 2

Countenance- appearance, manifestation (Line 15)

Act IV, Scene 3

Scourge- penalty (Line 7)

Cicatrice- wound (Line 62)

Act IV, Scene 4

Ducats- a European typically gold coin of the past (Line 20)

Imposthume- swelling or bad sore (Line 27)

Act IV, Scene 5

Larded- to adorn or scatter with something (Line 38)

Act V, Scene 2

Cozenage- deception or betrayal (Line 67)

Umbrage- dimness, darkness (Line 120)

Additional popular Shakespeare’s words

Hither- over here

'em- is equal to “them”

'tis- short for “it is”

Players- here “actors”

Lord- any gentleman that has authority over a different person: ex. spouse, leader, monarch, etc.

Alas- said to define sadness, disappointment, or worry

Nay- is equal to “no”

Thou - is equal to “you”

Hath- is equal to “have”

Pray you - to appeal to somebody in a meek way

Points to Remember:

  1. Except a fellow student from the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet appears to be the single character in the piece with academic as well as scholarly ambitions (Gibson, 1998).
  2. Opposing Laertes, Hamlet does stand as a medieval personage in the play. As an alternative, Hamlet is a contemporary Renaissance Elizabethan personage who is positioned in the medieval setting (Boyce, 1990). Being an Elizabethan personage, he belongs to the Renaissance period movement, which discussed the nature of human being and considered that truth could be established by means of self-examination (Lukas, 2008).
  3. "Hamlet" is a piece in which the combat over governance of a county eventually results in the region being occupied by a different power. It is proposed that Shakespeare was cautioning England against the reiteration the fight over the crown after Henry VIII, Elizabeth's father, died (McEvoy, 2000).

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