Ophelia from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

The Play by Shakespeare

Ophelia. Sitting on the base of a tree, the young Ophelia drops flowers into the water in which she will drown herself. "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." 1603

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Hamlet the play by William Shakespeare

Text - script of Hamlet the play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Hamlet play by William Shakespeare

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Introduction - The play and the image displayed in the picture
This section is dedicated to Hamlet, the play by William Shakespeare. The picture is 18th century and image displayed represents the essence of the play which, we hope, will bring to life a famous scene or character from the play. The information provided in this section of william-shakespeare.info includes famous quotes / quotations, summary of the plot or story, facts about the play, a list of the cast and characters and access to the full text - script of the play by William Shakespeare.

Summary of the plot or story
Prince Hamlet mourns both his father's death and his mother, Queen Gertrude's remarriage to Claudius. The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to him and tells him that Claudius has poisoned him. Hamlet swears revenge. He arranges an old play whose story has a parallel to that of Claudius. Hamlet's behaviour is considered mad. He kills the eavesdropping Polonius, the court chamberlain, by thrusting his sword through a curtain. Polonius's son Laertes returns to Denmark to avenge his father's death. Polonius's daughter Ophelia loves the Prince but his brutal behaviour drives her to madness. Ophelia dies by drowning. A duel takes place and ends with the death of Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet. Themes discussed in the plot include indecision, seeking revenge and retribution, deception, ambition, loyalty and fate.

Hamlet's soliloquy Act 4 - the Revenge Code
The code of revenge is what causes many of Hamlet's problems. The revenge code made it necessary for him to avenge and seek retribution for the acts of others.

Information provided about the play

William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 ( a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of William’s plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date play was first performed
It is believed that the play was first performed between 1600 and 1601. In the Elizabethan era 
there was a huge demand for new entertainment and the drama would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the play was first printed in 1603. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for Hamlet
The settings for the play are Elsinore in eastern Denmark (the castle, a plain and a churchyard)

Theme of Hamlet
The play is categorised as a Tragedy

Number of words in Hamlet
The number of words in the work, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 32,241.
The script, with 1569 lines has the most of all of the Shakespearean characters and the play has the most lines with 3924

Most important characters in Hamlet
The most important characters in the play are:
Hamlet, Ophelia and the Ghost of Hamlet's father

Famous Quotes / Quotations from Hamlet
The quotes from Hamlet are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including 'to be or not to be' and 
'to thine own self be true'. Details of these famous quotes follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"To be, or not to be: that is the question" Hamlet Act III, Scene I).

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (Act I, Scene III).

"This above all: to thine own self be true". - (Hamlet Act I, Scene III).

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.". - (Act II, Scene II). 

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks". - (Hamlet Act III, Scene II). 

"In my mind's eye". - (Act I, Scene II).

"The play 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king". - (Hamlet Act II, Scene II). 

History of Hamlet
Kronborg Castle built between 1574 and 1585 is believed to be the model for the Elsinore Castle.

William Shakespeare's Main Source for Hamlet
Shakespeare's main source for Hamlet was probably the Third Book of Gesta Danorum (which was also called Historia Danica) by Saxo Grammaticus. The story was retold by François de Belleforest in Histoires Tragiques. It is also possible that a play reputedly by Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) called Ur-Hamlet was used. Interestingly, the term "Ur" means original and due to the total confusion in relation to the publication of any Elizabethan literature there is a theory that Ur-Hamlet was actually written by William Shakespeare as a draft for the final version of Hamlet.

Inspiration from Hamlet

The story has inspired many film versions of the Play, the first and most famous was produced in 1948 and starred Laurence Olivier. Other actors who have portrayed the hero either on film, or stage, include Mel Gibson, Kenneth Branaugh, Kevin Kline and Richard Burton

The Cast and Characters of Hamlet
Yorick was a Court jester of old King Hamlet. He amused and looked after Hamlet when he was a child. Yorick is dead during the play, but his skull–which a gravedigger exhumes in Act V, Scene I–arouses old memories in Hamlet that provide a glimpse of his childhood. The skull also helps to develop Hamlet’s morbid preoccupation with death. 

The Cast and Characters of Hamlet
Click the link at the top of the page to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Hamlet the play by William Shakespeare

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