Short Hamlet Summary
Long Hamlet Summary
Hamlet, the young Prince of Denmark comes to Denmark from the University at Wittenberg on account of his father’s death. On his arrival he finds his mother has married his uncle Claudius, the present King whom he hates. Hamlet agrees to stay in Elsinore. Laertes, who has come to take part in the King’s coronation leaves for France. Hamlets bitterness at his mother’s hasty marriage has no limits when the Ghost of his father appears and reveals to him the truth about his death. He has died not by snake-bite but by the poison of Claudius. The Ghost requests him to avenge the murder and to keep everything a secret until the time is ripe. He along with his friends swears silence and Hamlet conceives his scheme of feigning madness.
ACT I, SCENE I
The play Hamlet opens at Elsinore, where Francisco is on guard on a platform before the castle. It is twelve at midnight and Barnardo comes to relieve him. His friends Marcellus and Horatio too arrive. Francisco leaves and Barnardo is about to describe the Ghosts appearance on the previous night. Just then the Ghost makes its appearance. It is the Ghost of the deceased King of Denmark and when Horatio attempts to talk to it, it vanishes. Now they suspect that the Ghost’s appearance clad in that very armour worn by the dead king, when he defeated the king of Norway bodes no good for the state of Denmark. They all fear it is an ill-omen portending the impending war. Horatio too brings in references to how Julius Caesar’s assassination was preceded by supernatural occurrences. This intensifies the idea of an impending calamity.
While Horatio is speaking, the Ghost re-appears and Horatio pleads with it to answer his questions for the sake of the kingdom. Before it makes an attempt, the cock crows and it vanishes. Horatio explains that the ‘cock’s crow marks the dawn of the day and the evil spirits retirement to their confinement Day breaks and Horatio along with the friends decides to inform Hamlet about the strange things they have witnessed.
ACT I, SCENE II
In a state room in the castle are found the King, the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and others. The King expresses his grief at the death of Hamlet’s father and announces in an apologetic tone his marriage with Gertrude—”our sometime sister, now our Queen”. Then he discusses the threat invasion by young Fortinbras. He appoints two courtiers Cornelius and Voltimand as ambassadors to bear a message to Norway, asking the King to restrain his nephew from his hostile preparations against Denmark. Then he turns to Laertes who has come to Denmark to participate in the coronation and seeks the King’s permission to return to France. When he hears that Polonius has given his assent, the king grants him the permission. Now he turns to Hamlet, and asks him why he is still in a dejected mood. The queen too begs him to cast off his melancholy for, as all human beings must die. Hamlet’s her too had to die some day. Hamlet is hurt at his mother’s frailty and lies that his grief is not an external one but is the sign of his inner feelings which cannot be restrained. The King praises Hamlet’s devotion to his father, points out that he should not persist in grief, for it is unmanly and against will of Nature. He then urges Hamlet to look upon him as his father and offers him the love of an affectionate father. He then requests him to stay back in Denmark itself as his chief courtier, cousin and son. The Queen joins in the request of the King and Hamlet agrees.
Left alone Hamlet enters into a soliloquy, in which he expresses his melancholy. He contemplates over death and suicide and thinks that he could die if god had not ruled that suicide is wrong. The world appears to him weary, stale,. flat and unprofitable. Then he passes on to think about his mother’s hasty marriage, even before, “those shoes were old with which she followed his father’s body”, generalises “Frailty, thy name is woman!” By then Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo arrive and inform him about the Ghost’s appearance in the war-like garb of his father. Hamlet becomes interested in hearing all about the happenings and wishes to meet the Ghost at night and determines to speak with it. After the friends leave, Hamlet soliloquies that the appearance of his father’s Ghost foretells some befalling calamity.
ACT I, SCENE III
In a room in Polonius’ house Laertes bids farewell to his sister, Ophelia, before his departure for France. He advises her to be more cautious in her dealings with Hamlet, for he feels that as the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet is bound to abide by the rules of royalty and is helpless in his choice of soliciting a bride. So he advises her to hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the youth of primy nature.” Ophelia too, a child in nature and matured in wisdom in turn, advises him not to follow the primrose path of dalliance.
Polonius enters the room and gives a lecture on how to succeed in life with all his formal maxims and tells him to leave immediately for the ship is ready for sail. Laertes departs and he reiterates the advice given by Laertes. He forbids Ophelia from entertaining Hamlet’s addresses and tells her to avoid arid refuse his offers. As an obedient daughter she says, “1 shall obey, my lord.”
ACT I, SCENE IV
Once again it is the platform before the castle, at midnight, and we find Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus awaiting the Ghost’s appearance. They hear the sound of the trumpets and the firing of cannon. Hamlet informs his friends about the King’s merrymaking and comments upon their custom—but, a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance. He further adds how the best qualities and honours of the Danes are wiped out by their single defect of drinking. He then moralises upon the character of man, who, having many virtues, may yet degrade himself because of a single defect. By then the Ghost appears. Hamlet asks the Ghost to reveal the secret of its nightly wanderings. The Ghost beckons him to follow it to seek privacy. In spite of Horatio and Marcellus’ efforts to restrain Hamlet from following the Ghost—for they fear the Ghost might lead him to his death—Hamlet determines to follow it, for he attaches but little value to his life.
ACT I, SCENE V
The Ghost takes Hamlet to a remote place. It is about to be dawn and the time for the Ghost “to render up to sulf’rous and tormenting flames” is very near. It reveals its identity as the Ghost of Hamlets father who has been killed by his uncle. After Hamlet has sworn that he will wreak vengeance on the murderer, the Ghost narrates how Hamlet’s father was bereft, in his prime of life, of his life, his crown and his wife. Before retiring, it charges Hamlet with the revenge of his father’s death. Hamlet now breaks into a soliloquy wherein he contemplates over his mother’s frailty and Claudius’s villainous nature and determines not to forget the Ghosts words. His friends join him and coax him to speak about his meeting with the Ghost. Fearing that they would reveal the secret to others, he refuses to do so and further ask them to keep that night’s happenings a secret. Because the time is out of joint he conceives his scheme of feigning madness and forbids his friends from revealing his antic disposition.
Polonius appoints Reynaldo to deliver some cash and letters to his son Laertes who is in France. and asks him to spy on his son’s behaviour. Ophelia enters and informs him about Hamlet’s madness—that Hamlet visited her with a look so piteous in purport as if he had been loosed out of hell. Polonius now believes that Hamlet is mad for the love of his daughter and informs the King. But Claudius suspects the reality of his madness and sets two spies Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to keep watch on Hamlet’s behaviour. Meanwhile Hamlet with a troupe of players plans to arrange a play with a story which is similar to that of his father’s death as told by the Ghost, and watch Claudius’s reactions for evidence of guilt. Meanwhile Claudius gives his consent to young Fortinbras to march through his country to attack Poland.
ACT II, SCENE I
Two months have elapsed and in the house of Polonius, we find Polonius speaking to his man Reynaldo. He asks Reynaldo to deliver some money and papers to Laertes and advises him to spy on his behaviour to collect as much information as he can about Laertes mode of life in France. He further tells him that Reynaldo can charge him with certain bad habits such as gambling, drinking, swearing and quarrelling without affecting Laertes honour and with least suspicion from Laertes. Reynaldo then departs. Ophelia enters in distress and discloses the change in Hamlets behaviour, “as if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors.” Polonius takes it to be signs of madness on the very ecstasy of love for Ophelia has rejected Hamlet as directed by her father. Now he regrets his harsh action of ordering his daughter to reject a genuine lover’s offer and decides to inform the King of Hamlets madness as well as the cause of it.
ACT II, SCENE II
In a room at the castle, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two former school fellows of Hamlet, are welcomed by the King and the Queen and are entrusted with the duty of finding out the reason for Hamlet’s strange behaviour. They assure the King and the Queen of their honest services and retire. Polonius enters and announces the arrival of the Ambassadors, Cornelius and Voltemand, with the good news of the withdrawal of young Fortinbras from war. Now Polonius inform the King and the Queen about Hamlet’s madness and gives the cause as the “very ecstasy of love.” He further says that his daughter obeyed his words in rejecting his love and reads one of Hamlet’s love letters addressed to Ophelia in evidence. Claudius suspects the reality of Hamlet’s madness. Nevertheless he agrees to Polonius’ plan to arrange a meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia and eavesdrop on their conversation to confirm Polonius’ reason. Everybody except Polonius leaves. Hamlet enters and Polonius begins a conversation with him. Hamlet answers the questions put to him by Polonius in an indifferent manner and calls him a ‘fishmonger’. He then goes on to talk about his daughter which confirms Polonius’ suspicions. He reads out from the book, which he is holding, about old men and indirectly hints at Polonius’ nature. Polonius takes his present mood to be the best time for a meeting between him and Ophelia, and retires. Meanwhile Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter and greet Hamlet. Hamlet questions their business in Denmark and is not satisfied with their answer, for he suspects they have been appointed by the King to spy on him. Hence he says to them that he can understand for what purpose they have been sent for, and tells them that he himself does not know the reason for his present behaviour for he has lost interest in the world and in women and longs to die.
Rosencrantz suggests that Hamlet will find pleasure in the company of the players and announces their visit to Denmark. Hamlet embraces his two friends and gives a cordial welcome to them lest they should feel themselves indifferently treated. He reveals the truth that the King and the Queen are deceived, for, he says, “I am but mad north-north west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Polonius then comes to inform of the player’s arrival. Hamlet welcomes them and asks one of them to recite a speech on the murder of Priam at the hands of Pyrrhus and the grief of Hecuba at her husband’s death. The actor does it with such deep feeling that tears come into his eyes. Hamlet dismisses everybody, asking Polonius to look after the players well, but detains one of the players. He tells the player that they should enact “The Murder of Gonzago” with some modification in the speech. The player agrees and leaves.
Hamlet is left alone. In his soliloquy he reflects how he contrasts with the players. The player is moved in the play by: Queen Hecuba, who is nobody to him while Hamlet whose real father has been killed, is inactive and given to dreaming instead of taking revenge against his uncle, “the bloody, bawdy villain”. He determines to confirm Claudius’ guilt by means of the play which is to be enacted on the following day, for he had heard that guilty persons confess their guilt when it is represented before them. He still has doubts over the Ghost’s intentions and he undertakes this device to check the truth of its words.
Roscncrantz and Guildenstem inform the King about their failure in finding out the real cause of Hamlet’s strange behaviour. As devised earlier by Polonius, Claudius and Polonius hide themselves and overhear the lovers talk. Claudius is convinced that some deep thought other than love is the cause of his madness but Polonius is sure of ecstasy of love being the root cause. Claudius once again sets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to probe into Hamlet’s mind to find out his true nature. Hamlet gets the play enacted. It alarms Claudius and he orders the stoppage of the play and leaves the hail. Convinced of his guilt, Hamlet now wants to take revenge against him. Bound by morals, he does not avail of an opportunity to kill Claudius, who is at his prayers. Then he is summoned to his mother’s closet. Polonius hides behind the arras to overhear their conversation. Gertrude’s cry for help alarms Polonius and he makes a movement behind the arras and is killed by Hamlet. Gertrude regrets her shameful actions and the Ghost makes its appearance to spur Hamlet on to his final action. The Ghost is invisible to Gertrude’s eyes and Hamlets talk with the Ghost makes her believe that her son is quite mad. She informs Claudius of the whole episode and Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England v.ith two of his servants and get him killed on the English soil.
ACT III, SCENE I
In a room in the castle are seen the King, the Queen, Polonius, his daughter Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The King questions Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, how far they have succeeded in the task entrusted to them. They confess their inability to find out the causes of Hamlet’s madness and add that Hamlet is quite pleased to hear of the arrival of the players. They take leave and the King tells the Queen of the plan to overhear the lovers’ conversation. Ophelia is advised to pretend to be reading when Hamlet enters. Failing to notice the presence of Ophelia, he gets lost in his famous soliloquy. ‘To be or not to be—that is the question.’ He debates within himself the pros and cons of suicide, and the reasons which prevent us from committing suicide. By then he sees Ophelia, and comes to the present world and comments on her beauty. But when Ophelia returns all his presents, he announces that he loved her once but loves her no more. He advises her to forget marriage and enters a convent so that she will not be a breeder of sinners. Ophelia is bewildered at his deranged talk and prays to God to make him normal once again. Hamlet leaves and Ophelia meditates over the degradation in Hamlet’s character—”O what a noble mind is here overthrown.”
The King and Polonius appear from behind the arras and Claudius is convinced that it is not love but some deeper feeling that is the root cause of Hamlets madness. He decides to send Hamlet to England, to collect the overdue tribute, just for a change, to restore Hamlet to his normal senses. Polonius agrees with the King’s plan for the benefit of Hamlet. But he tells the King that he will spy on Hamlet, as he talks with his mother, to gather more information about his insanity.
ACT III, SCENE II
The scene shifts to a hail in the Castle where Hamlet is instructing the players how to recite their speeches with modesty and not to overdo their expressions of passion and emotion. He advises the clowns too and dismisses them. Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter and announce the royal couple’s interest in attending the play. He discharges them to ‘bid the players make haste.’ Horatio enters and Hamlet praises his friend’s honesty and requests his help in assessing the reaction of the King to the performance. The play begins. Unable to bear the torture of the guilty conscience at the sight of the play, the King gets up in the middle and leaves the hail. Quite convinced of the King’s guilt, Hamlet now attaches more value to the Ghost’s words. By then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive to disclose the King’s fury and the Queen’s request to Hamlet to meet her in her closet the same night. Hamlet agrees to meet her. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to extract the real reason of his madness from Hamlet himself. But Hamlet mocks at their efforts and refuses to reveal the secret. Polonius too enters to inform him of his mother’s wish to have a talk with him. Everybody leaves except Hamlet. In his soliloquy he considers it to be the right time to take revenge but resolves, as directed by his father’s Ghost, not to do any physical harm to the Queen.
ACT III, SCENE III
In a room in the Castle, King Claudius asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to get ready to sail for England with Hamlet; he openly admits to them that he faces personal danger from Hamlet’s madness. As true citizens they regard the King’s safety more valuable than ordinary people’s safety, for the latter depends upon the former. They take leave and Polonius enters to announce Hamlet’s march towards his mother’s closet and seeks Claudius’s permission to go over and hear the conversation. His request is granted and Polonius leaves. Left alone, Claudius, in a soliloquy reflects upon his guilt in having murdered his brother and taken possession of his kingdom as well as his wife. He tries to pray to God to ask for mercy for his sins but he is unable to pray. He kneels down and tries to pray. Hamlet enters and, seeing the King at prayer, does not kill him. He thus misses a golden opportunity, for he does not want a wicked soul to enjoy the pleasures of Heaven. Wishing for some other occasion when the King is indulging in some evil deed, Hamlet leaves the place. The King rises expressing his incapability to rest at peace and prays for mercy.
ACT III, SCENE IV
In the Queen’s room Polonius informs the Queen that Hamlet has agreed to meet her. Hearing Hamlet’s call, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. On Hamlet’s arrival the Queen begins to chide him for offending the King. This provokes Hamlet and he speaks rudely to her. Apparently taking his remarks for a threat of murder, she shouts for help and Polonius takes up the cry. Taking it for Claudius’ voice, Hamlet plunges his sword into the tapestry and kills Polonius. But he is least affected by his action and continues with his charges against the Queen’s wrongfulness. He says that the Queen by marrying an unscrupulous man has shown herself to be a slave to lustful desires. The Queen is hurt and she asks him to speak no more. But he continues, and is interrupted by the Ghost’s appearance. It comes to remind him of avenging the murder. The Queen is unable to see the Ghost or hear its voice, thinks that Hamlet is mad. But he tries to convince her of his normality. He then advises the Queen to give up her life of vice and return to virtue. He tells her not to reveal his feigned madness to the King and she agrees. The talk passes on to Hamlet’s trip to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and he says that he suspects treachery on the voyage. He announces his idea of upsetting their treacherous plan and leaves the room dragging with him the lifeless body of Polonius.
The Queen tells the King the news of Polonius’ death at the hands of Hamlet in his fit of madness. The King is quite convinced of Hamlet’s feigned madness and sends him to England the very same evening along with the orders to the King of England to execute Hamlet on his arrival. However, Hamlet escapes from his captors and returns secretly to Elsinore. Laertes hears of the death of his father and returns to Elsinore and seeks justice from the King. But the King convinces him that Hamlet is the main cause of his father’s death and his sister’s madness. Ophelia, who becomes insane due to the shock of her father’s death and Hamlet’s strange behaviour, drowns herself in a pool. The death of his sister along with his father’s death drives Laertes to decide upon revenge against Hamlet through evil or good means. Claudius conspires with Laertes to kill Hamlet with an envenomed sword in the fencing match to be arranged between Hamlet and Laertes.
ACT IV, SCENE I
In the Queens closet, upon the Kings requesting her to reveal the secret of her deep sighs, the Queen disclosed the death of Polonius at the hands of Hamlet in his fit of madness. The King is shocked to hear this for it indicates danger to his own life. He sends for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and entrusts them with the duty of bringing the dead body of Polonius into the chapel.
ACT IV, SCENE II
In another room, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet Hamlet and enquire of him about Polonius’ dead body. He replies that he has buried his body and refuses to reveal any more. Further he comments on their sponging nature and openly expresses his contempt for them.
ACT IV, SCENE III
Claudius discusses with his courtiers about the dangers of Hamlet’s madness and reveals his helplessness in punishing Hamlet, for “He’s loved of the distracted multitude.’ Rosencrantz and Guildenstern inform the King of Hamlets refusal to reveal the whereabouts of the dead body. Claudius questions Hamlet about Polonius’ dead body. He feigns madness and puzzles the King with his answers. However, he discloses the place where the body is hidden. Then the King announces the voyage to England. Though Hamlet senses treachery, he accepts the proposal and bids farewell to all. Claudius in his soliloquy reveals his treachery—he has sent sealed orders with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the King of England to execute Hamlet on his arrival on English soil, and hopes that his plan will be carried out successfully to keep him at ease.
ACT IV, SCENE IV
Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet the Norwegian Captain who is sent by Fortinbras to crave formal permission from the Danish king to march through their territory to wage war against Poland. Hamlet learns from the Captain the cause of their war—a question of honour. Hamlet is disturbed at this answer and in his soliloquy he thinks over his delay in action though he has a genuine reason for revenge; he is a contrast to be young Fortinbras, who displays his martial activity by waging a war merely on the grounds of honour. He decides to follow in the steps of Fortinbras and wishes his thoughts would be filled only with ideas of revenge. He wants to avenge his father’s death without further delay.
ACT IV, SCENE V
Synopsis. A gentleman announces Ophelia’s wish to meet the Queen but the Queen at first refuses to meet her. At Horatio’s request she welcomes Ophelia. Ophelia sings songs on the death of her father which convey no sense to the Queen. The King who comes to meet the Queen also witnesses the pitiful condition of Ophelia and discharges Horatio to keep a watch on her to avoid calamity. Left alone, the King and the Queen discuss Ophelia’s condition and the King talks about sorrows coming, not as single spies, but in a battalion. He imparts to the Queen the news of Laertes secret landing in Elsinore. Just then Laertes enters with a drawn sword and asks for justice. The King tries to calm him down. Ophelia re-enters and the sight of his sister in the state of an utter loss of reason stirs him once again to take revenge. The King tries to declare his innocence and tells Laertes the facts of his father’s death.
ACT IV, SCENE VI
Horatio receives a message from Hamlet through the sailors, assigned by Hamlet. He comes to know, how Hamlet’s ship was attacked by pirates and Hamlet boarded the pirates’ craft and became their prisoner. However, through their mercy he is safe at present. But his two school-fellows continued their voyage to England. He wishes Horatio would meet him at his refuge to hear more news about Hamlet as well as his two school-fellows.
ACT IV, SCENE VII
Claudius wins the confidence of Laertes by proving his innocence in Polonius death. He vividly explains his helplessness to give Hamlet harsh punishment, for “He’s loved of the distracted multitude” as well as by the Queen. His talk is interrupted by a messenger who brings a letter from Hamlet, informing him of his arrival in Denmark and his visit on the following day. The King is quite upset over the frustration of his plans and Hamlet’s return, while Laertes feels happy over the message for he has got an opportunity to avenge his father’s death and his sister’s madness. The King regains his strength and schemes another plot to get Hamlet killed by Laertes himself. He spurs Laertes, by praising his skill at fencing to challenge Hamlet to a duel during which Laertes would hurt Hamlet with his sword. Laertes welcomes the plan and betters it with a wicked idea that he would dip the tip of the sword in poison. Just then the Queen enters with the grave news of Ophelia’s death. The bereaved brother’s feelings find no bounds and he craves for vengeance.
At Ophelia’s funeral, Laertes, overcome by grief, throws himself into the open grave of Ophelia and wishes to die with her. Hamlet is offended at his grief for his love for Ophelia is such as forty thousand brothers could never feel. He too follows Laertes and there a short scuffle between the two. With much difficulty they are separated. This paves the way for the fencing match. In the first two rounds Hamlet wins and Claudius offers him the poisoned drink. He refuses and Gertrude drinks it to celebrate her son’s victory and dies. In the third round Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poisoned rapier and in the ensuing confusion they exchange rapiers. Laertes too is wounded with the same envenomed rapier and before his death he discloses the treachery. Hamlet wounds Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink the rest of the poisoned wine. Claudius follows Gertrude in death. Laertes also dies. Horatio wishes to die with Hamlet and takes up the cup of wine to drink from it. But Hamlet objects for he wants Horatio to live for some more time to prove Hamlets innocence to the world. He announces Fortinbras as his successor to the throne and dies. Fortinbras arrives to report the news of his victory over Poland and witnesses the tragedy in the castle. Horatio gives an account of the tragedy and arrangements are made for Hamlet’s funeral.
ACT V, SCENE I
In a churchyard, two gravediggers are preparing a grave. As they dig, they talk about the kind of burial to be given to Ophelia—whether a Christian burial should be given or denied—for they suspect the nature of her death. They come to the conclusion that even if it is a suicide, being a woman of high status, she would be given a Christian burial. Meanwhile Hamlet and Horatio enter in the distance. Hamlet is surprised at the gravediggers’ song signifying a lack of feelings of grief. Horatio explains that familiarity with the job robs the sense of the solemnity from death. As the gravedigger digs, he hurls out skulls one after the other, and Hamlet tries to identify the persons and in the end generalises that whether one is a politician or a lawyer, a jester or an emperor like Alexander, everyone meets with the same end—to become one with the dust. His talk is interrupted by Ophelia’s funeral procession. Ophelia’s body is brought. The priest objects to the idea of singing a requiem for the nature of her death is suspect. When the Queen throws flowers and expresses her last wish “I hoped thou shouldest have been my Hamlet’s wife”, Hamlet realises that it is his Ophelia’s funeral. Overcome with grief Laertes throws himself into the grave and wishes to die with her. Seeing this exaggerated expression of grief, Hamlet is irritated. He too leaps into the grave and both grapple together. With much difficulty they are separated and the King and the Queen try to cool down Laertes’ feelings attributing Hamlet’s behaviour to his madness. Claudius is happy over the incident for he is sure that it will provide an opportunity for the coming duel.
ACT V, SCENE II
In a hail in the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio of his discovery of his uncle’s treachery, and of how he replaced his uncle’s letter with the altered order of executing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Then he expresses his determination to take revenge against Claudius for murdering his father, seducing his mother, usurping his kingdom and the wicked plans to do away with Hamlet himself. Then he expresses his regret for the scuffle with Laertes. Just then Osric enters to announce the King’s arrangement of a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes and the King’s promise to award him with a heavy wager. Hamlet accepts the challenge but Horatio pleads with his friend to withdraw his challenge. Hamlet attaches little importance to his life and says one’s well being and fall lie in the hands of God, and nobody can change one’s fate. If his fate is to win he would win and if it is to lose he would lose. With these words he takes up the challenge.
The match begins. In the first two rounds Hamlet wins. The King offers him a cup of poisoned wine. He refuses and the Queen drinks it for his health to celebrate his victory and swoons. Before her death, she reveals the truth to Hamlet. In the third round Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poisoned rapier. In the confusion both change the rapiers and Hamlet wounds Laertes with the same poisoned sword. Laertes reveals the treachery of Claudius, and Hamlet wounds Claudius with the sword and to doubly assure his death forces him to drink the rest of the poisoned wine. Claudius dies, followed by Laertes. Horatio wishes to die with Hamlet but is restrained by Hamlet, who wants him to live to tell the truth of the tragedy to the world. Before his death Hamlet gives his last wish that Fortinbras should succeed to the throne. He then dies. Fortinbras arrives with the Ambassadors from England to announce his victory over Poland. He is taken aback at the bloody sight. The Ambassadors announce that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz have been put to death as directed by Claudius. Horatio discloses the whole truth and Fortinbras arranges a funeral with military honours for Hamlet.