What is a summary of Hamlet?

A summary of Hamlet should review the key plot points in William Shakespeare's tragedy. It might touch on Claudius’s machinations, Hamlet’s unhinged stratagems, and Ophelia’s multiple misfortunes.

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A summary of Hamlet should provide an overview of the main plot points in William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

An adequate summary would introduce Hamlet. It’d tell who he is and why he’s upset. It’d mention the fact that his dad—the former king of Denmark—was murdered by his own brother. That brother’s name is Claudius. Not only did Claudius murder his brother, but he went on to marry his brother’s wife so that he could be the king of Denmark.

A decent summary would go on to tell how Hamlet becomes increasingly unhinged. It would tell about his plan to expose Claudius, his abuse of Ophelia, and why he killed Ophelia’s dad.

If you believe that summaries should include the way that the work ends, then your summary would probably note the death of Gertrude and how Hamlet came to stab Claudius.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 2, 2020
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Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is disturbed by his father's recent death and his mother's hasty remarriage to his uncle, Claudius (who has now assumed the throne). The ghost of Hamlet's father appears before him and confirms his worst suspicions: Claudius murdered his own brother to seize the throne. Urged on by his father's ghost, Hamlet is determined to seek revenge.

As he seeks to further investigate Claudius's guilt, Hamlet decides to feign madness to avoid arousing suspicion. Over time, however, it becomes less and less clear whether Hamlet is merely acting mad or whether his quest for revenge has actually deteriorated his sanity. He mistreats Ophelia, the woman he loves; kills Polonius, one of Claudius's loyal followers; and knowingly sends his former friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths. All the while, Hamlet agonizes over his inaction and seeming inability to avenge his father's death. These internal frustrations led Hamlet to frequently question the point of life and whether it's worth living at all.

Feeling threatened by Hamlet, Claudius arranges to have him killed in a duel with Laertes (Ophelia's brother and Polonius's son). Laertes, who seeks his own revenge on Hamlet, and Claudius conspire to poison Laertes's sword, meaning even a scratch will kill Hamlet. Their corrupt plan takes a turn, however, and in the course of the duel, Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude, and the king are all killed, leaving Horatio, Hamlet's best friend, alone to tell their story.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 2, 2020
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