Can anybody supply me with the summary of "Hamlet"?

Expert Answers
cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here’s the quick version.  Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark.  His father died and his father’s brother (Claudius) quickly married Hamlet’s mother (Gertrude).  Hamlet learns from his father’s ghost that Claudius is the one who killed him, and is asked to seek revenge. 

Hamlet isn’t sure whether or not to believe the ghost.  So, he decides to stage a play with a scene just like the murder of his father.  When Claudius sees the play, he gets up and leaves, so Hamlet is now convinced he did murder his father. 

By mistake Hamlet kills a courtier (thinking it is Claudius), and so the courtier’s son (Laertes) wants revenge against Hamlet.  Claudius sends Hamlet to England to get rid of him, but Hamlet escapes and comes back.  Meanwhile, the courtier’s daughter goes insane and kills herself. 

Claudius sets up a fencing duel between Hamlet and Laertes, gives Laertes a poisoned sword, and has poisoned wine handy to give Hamlet in case Laertes doesn’t kill him.  A mess ensues, in which Hamlet and Laertes are both fatally wounded by the sword, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine and Hamlet kills Claudius.  The truth is revealed and Hamlet’s body is taken off with honor.

cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Now that I've moved your question to the Hamlet group, you can easily find a general summary of the play as well as a summary and analysis of each scene and act by clicking on the tab for enotes above. I've provided a link below for the general summary. 

This famous play involves murder, a ghost, revenge, madness, and a melancholy and confused prince. You can even read the entire play here online. eNotes offers all kinds of information about the play.

avira | Student

I divided the summary in parts, just in case you need it to be separated to each acts in the play. I hope this will be proven to be useful.


Hamlet, the young Prince of Denmark, was troubled and almost heart-broken. Filled with grief for the recent death of his father. In the same time his mother, Queen of Gertrude married with Claudius, his uncle, his father’s brother, that seized the throne in place of his late father. Ironically, the Queen looked happier in her new marriage, to his utmost dismay.

He also grew suspicious of his father’s death. He presumed that his father’s ghost wandering around the castle, wanting to get his revenge done. And it had proved right.

Hamlet was not the first person to see his father’s ghost. The soldiers on guard had seen it wandering along the battlements of the castle during long night watches. Hamlet’s most devoted and faithful friend, Horatio had also seen it and want to speak but without success. So, Horatio ran and told Hamlet what he had seen to Hamlet.

Hamlet’s father’s ghost informs Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius and demands Hamlet avenge him.


After that, Hamlet makes himself appear crazy to deflect suspicion that he knew the truth. One day, he visited his crush, Ophelia and seek for comfort. Ophelia didn’t understand what happened so she asked her father, Polonius, the court chamberlain. Ophelia grew suspicious with different reason. Her father didn’t allow her to be Hamlet and said that he is a prince. Hamlet, took advantage of the turn out and revelation that most of his supposed traitors believed that he was mad, wrote a poem to Ophelia that draws how unbalanced his mind is.


Polonius informed Claudius, the new King of the said poem and tried to prove it by their own eyes. They made Ophelia and Hamlet met while they hide behind the curtain. Hamlet aware that they are being watched so he burst a long outburst of his died heart into Ophelia that his faith for being in love died along by the time his mother remarried. Ophelia petrified and oddly, the two shadows behind the curtain believe that.


Several days later, travelling actors asked for a permission to play a performance, so Hamlet took an advantage of that. He invited the whole inhabitant of the castle including Claudius and Polonius to watch the performance. He played The Murder of Gonzago that has the same plotline as his father’s murder. Claudius showed a signs of uneasiness as long as the play went. He went out from the scene.


Claudius was now thoroughly alarmed. Then he prayed for Hamlet’s death. Hamlet aware of his presence but didn’t wish for his father’s murderer’s so he visited his mother instead. Polonius knew so he told the Queen and hid behind the curtain as a witness if Hamlet killed his mother. When he heard queen’s plea, Polonius cried for help. Hamlet didn’t know that he was Polonius, so he killed him. He begged his mother to not tell a soul about what happened in Queen’s chamber and let her mother report The King of Polonius death.


Claudius found a new reason to blame and cast Hamlet off to England. Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, hastily go to Denmark from France to seek for revenge. Meanwhile, Ophelia became mad and drowned herself.


The ship Hamlet sailed attacked by pirates so he escaped to the shores of Denmark. He gave a letter of his return to Horatio. Claudius was angry that his scheme to quietly murdered Hamlet in foreign country failed. So, he made another reason by convinced Laertes, a rival of Hamlet in swordsmanship to plot for Hamlet’s death.

Horatio took Hamlet to castle Elsinore. On their way home, he passed a graveyard and stopped beside a newly-dug grave in order to speak to the gravedigger, and Hamlet saw a Royal party of a funeral service. They shocked by the revelation that it was Ophelia’s. Laertes didn’t allow Hamlet to get any near closer to his sister’s grave and attacked him. Claudius stepped out and said that they should solve it in duel.


Hamlet accepted the duel even knowing whether he would win or not to fate. And that he would not back down.

The duel was arranged. The King and The queen entered the hall and sit in the corner with the poisoned goblet. He intended to gave the goblet as precaution if Hamlet won the fight. For Laertes, he used an unguarded soil that used to brush his sword with with a poison too.

The duels proceed. Laertes used the poisoned on his blade. And while he ignored the rule by slice Hamlet’s arm, Hamlet took the hint that there’s a treachery on the duel. So, Hamlet attacked him with his prowess and skills in swordsmanship and drove Laertes in the edge of losing. Hamlet threw the poisoned sword and pick it to Laertes. Laertes knew that it was poisoned and felt upon a shame. He regret for his treachery and wish for the duel continued and dying by his own poison by the time the soil flew into his scar on his neck.

As the courtiers ran forward to stop the fight, Claudius turned and, to his utter horror, saw his wife took the poisoned cup and fell to Claudius’ feet.

Hamlet approached his mother and asked what happened to her. Claudius tried to conceal his wickedness and said that she fainted by Hamlet’s blood. But Queen Gertrude shouted that it was the drink. Laertes confessed his and Claudius’ treachery. In the end Hamlet stabbed the king and he himself died by the poison wound.