What is a summary for act 1 of Hamlet?

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In act 1, the castle guards meet with Horatio late at night on the castle ramparts because they want him to witness the ghost they have seen. He at first pooh-poohs the idea of the ghost, but he is convinced when he sees it with his own eyes. He also...

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In act 1, the castle guards meet with Horatio late at night on the castle ramparts because they want him to witness the ghost they have seen. He at first pooh-poohs the idea of the ghost, but he is convinced when he sees it with his own eyes. He also tells them that all the war preparations they have been witnessing are because Fortinbras is marching on Denmark with an army to avenge his father's death. Horatio says he will tell Hamlet about the ghost.

We then learn that Hamlet, son of the late king, is upset that his mother married Claudius so quickly after the death of her husband. Hamlet expresses in a soliloquy his sense that Claudius is not half the man his father was and conveys his deep distress that his mother married Claudius. Hamlet also communications his depression and desire to kill himself.

We are introduced to Polonius, his son, Laertes, and his daughter, Ophelia. Polonius is an important advisor to Claudius. Polonius gives Laertes much advice as he heads off to France, and he sends a spy to keep an eye on Laertes. Laertes advises Ophelia not to get too involved with Hamlet, as he is a prince and his marriage is an affair of state. Hamlet will love her and leave her, Laertes says.

Hamlet goes to the rampart. The ghost speaks to him as it has not to the others and tells him that it is his late father. The ghost also informs Hamlet that Claudius murdered him and demands that Hamlet avenge his death.

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In act I we meet Hamlet and find out that his father, the King of Denmark, has been killed, and his Uncle Claudius has taken the throne. Claudius has also married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude.

The ghost of Hamlet's father appears, tells Hamlet that Claudius killed him, and asks Hamlet to take revenge.

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Act I of Shakespearean dramas present the exposition, or background, information of the play.  Hamlet is no different.  In this act, the reader meets all the key characters, learns the background information necessary to understand the play and understands the origins of the central conflict.   In Act I, the reader learns that three guards have witnessed the late King Hamlet's ghost wandering the castle outposts dressed in his war gear.  The guards call Hamlet's friend Horatio to confirm the sighting.

Hamlet is introduced as a depressed young man who is trying to reconcile his father's sudden death and his mother's hasty remarriage to his father's brother, Claudius.  Claudius has taken the crown and is badgering Hamlet to stop mourning.  He also is attempting to quell a hostile takeover by Fortinbras of Norway.

Hamlet's girlfriend, Ophelia, is bidding her brother farewell as he returns to college while their father, Polonius gives him some advice.  He then turns to Ophelia and demands to know the details of her relationship with Hamlet.  He ends the talk by forbidding her to see him because he is worried she might get pregnant.

Horatio tells the nearly suicidal Hamlet that his father's ghost has been sighted.  Hamlet seeks out and talks to the ghost.  The ghost tells him that it was his own brother, Claudius that killed him and orders Hamlet to get revenge.  Hamlet concocts a plan to get his revenge on Claudius.

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