Art & Culture

HAMLET By William Shakespeare “Complete Story”

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was a brave and noble young man, fond of manly games and pastimes.

Then a great sorrow fell on him and changed him entirely

. His father, old King Hamlet, died suddenly and in a mysterious way. Hamlet, who loved his father, was broken hearted. His sadness increased when his mother, soon after her husband’s death, married her husband’s brother Claudius. Claudius, a cunning and evil man, then became the King of Denmark.
Hamlet grieved night and day over these sad events. Moreover, a dreadful suspicion filled his mind. He had been told that his father had died from the bite of a snake while he was sleeping in his garden. Was this true? Had his uncle murdered him? Had his mother known about his uncle’s evil purpose? Had she helped him in it? These thoughts tormented the noble mind of the young prince and almost drove him mad.
At this time, Hamlet’s best friend, Horatio, came to him with a strange story. The soldiers on guard on the castle walls had seen the ghost of old King Hamlet. It had appeared at midnight, wearning the armour of the old King. They had seen its face and had noted the deep sadness on it. It had opened its mouth to speak to them. Then the morning cock had crowed and it had vanished.
Hamlet could not rest till he had seen the ghost and spoken to it. The ghost had some message for him, he felt sure. Perhaps it would tell him the truth about his fatehr’s death. Perhaps it would command him to revenge it.
The next night, Hamlet and Horatio were waiting with a guard on the castle walls. The noise of feasting and gay laughter reached them from inside of the castle. They stood shivering in the icy wind and darkness.
Suddenly, Horatio touched Hamlet’s arm. “Look, my lord,” he whispered. “Here it comes!”
The ghost of his father stood in front of young Hamlet.
“Are you my father?” Hamlet asked, in great agitation. “Why have you come? What do you want me to do?”
The ghost did not speak. It backoned Hamlet to leave his two companions and to follow it to the edge of the castle wall. Horatio, who feared for his friend’s safety, tried to hold Hamlet back. But Hamlet pushed him away roughly and followed the ghost.
“They told you,” the ghost began, “that a snake killed me when I was sleeping in my garden. Oh, Hamlet! The snake that killed me was your uncle. Revenge my foul murder. But do not kill your mother. Leave her to the torment of her conscience. Remember! Remember!” the ghost commanded. The next moment it was gone.
Hamlet returned to his two companions. He made them promise never to speak of what they had seen that night. He told Horatio what the ghost had said. Moreover, he told him of a strange plan that he had suddenly made. He was going to behave as if he were really mad. In this way he could hide his real feelings from his uncle. At the same time he could spy on him more easily.
Hamlet’s speech and behaviour became stranger than ever. The King and the Queen did not think that Hamlet knew of their guilt but they saw that something was driving Hamlet mad. What could it be?
An old wise courtier, Polonius by name, declared that he knew the cause — Hamlet’s love Polonius’s lovely daughter Ophelia. Polonius had seen that Hamlet was in love with his daughter. Naturally he was pleased, but he prudently advised Ophelia to behave coldly towards the young prince. Ophelia, who was a most obedient daughter obeyed. Her coldness, Polonius told the KIng and Queen, was the cause of Hamlet’s madness. They believed their wise and faithful adviser.
Meanwhile, Hamlet was tormented by doubt and despair. He blamed himself for doing nothing to revenge his father. As he loved his mother, it was hard for him to kill her husband. Besides, he could not be sure that the ghost’s story was true. Was the ghost a devil disguised as his father? And had the devil come to make him do evil? Tormented by such thoughts, Hamlet even thought of killing himself.
Hamlet soon had a chance to find out whether King Claudius was guilty or not. It happened that a company of actors warmly, for he knew them well. Then he remembered a play that they had acted before. This play, called The Murder of Gonzago, showed how a duke named Gonzago was poisoned in his garden by his cousin. This cousin had afterwards married the duke’s wife. Hamlet asked the actors if they could act that play. On hearing that they could, he said, “Tomorrow night you shall act it before the King and Queen. But I wish you to put in a few lines of my own.”
Hamlet made a few changes in the play so that it resembled more closely the murder of King Hamlet. “Now,” thought Hamlet, “when the King and Queen see this play, their faces will show whether they are guilty or not. I shall watch them closely.” Hamlet told Horatio of his plan and asked him to watch with him. “If the play does not effect them strongly, then the ghost was not my father’s spirit and Claudius is not guilty,” he said.
The following night, the King and Queen together with the whole court gathered to watch the play. Hamlet and Horatio sat a little apart from the rest in a spot where they could watch the King closely without anyone noticing.
The curtain rose on a scene showing the Duke Gonzago and his wife sitting side by side. The Duchess was saying. “If you die, I shall never marry again. Only woman who has killed her first husband marries a second one.” Hamlet saw his mother grow deathly pale at these words.
The next scene showed Gonzago asleep in his orchard. A man creeping up to him. He knelt beside him and poured poison into his ear. At this, the guilty King cried out in horror. “Look!” Hamlet called to him, “He’s poisoning him so that he can get his lands. In the next scene, you’ll see how he gets his wife as well.”
Claudius could bear no more. “Lights! Lights! he shouted. He and the Queen hurried out of the hall in terror.
The courtiers were astonished at the strange behaviour of their King and Queen. Hamlet was now certain that Claudius had murdered his father. He knew that he had to take his revenge now without any delay.
A messenger came to Hamlet, saying that the Queen wished to speak to him at once and in private. Claudius had persuaded the Queen to send for Hamlet. He wanted to find out how much his stepson knew. Claudius was greatly distressed. In his distress, he knelt down and tried to pray for forgiveness. Hamlet, on his way to his mother’s room, saw him kneeling there. He could easily have killed him, but he did not. H quietly passed by.
The Queen was waiting for her son. She was not alone because she had asked Polonius to hide himself behind the curtains. He would be her witness. When Hamlet came in, the Queen began, “Hamlet, you have deeply offended your father.” to this, Hamlet replied, “Mother, you have deeply offeneded my father.” In his excited state, Hamlet was ready to kill his mother, but he remembered his father’s order and did not touch her. All the same, he watned to make her confess her guilt. He would show her how evil she was and then leave her to the torment of her conscience. 
Hamlet seized his mother’s wrist to make her sit down. This frightened the Queen who cried out, “What! Will you murder me? Help! Help!” Polonius, hidden behind the curtain, thought that Hamlet was going to kill his mother. “Help! Help!” he shouted. Hamlet, thinking that it was the King, drew his sword. He ran it through the curtain, and through the body of Polonius as well. Polonius died instantly.
“Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!” cried the Queen.
“A rash and bloody deed,” Hamlet answered her. “It is almost as bad as killing a king and marrying his brother!”
Continuing, Hamlet bitterly reproached his mother for forgetting her dead husband so quickly and for marrying his brother. He pointed to the portraits of his father and Claudius. “Look at my father’s picture,” he cried. “Here you see a noble and just man. And now look at his other picture. Here you see a liar, a villain and murderer. How could you be so blind as not to see the difference? Are you not ashamed?”
The Queen was filled with shame. “Stop!” she begged, for she could bear no more. Almost fainting, she sank into a chair. 
At that moment, the ghost of old King Hamlet again appeared to Hamlet. It said, “Have pity on her. Leave her now. But have no pity on Claudius. Take your revenge on him. Remember!” It then vanished.
King Claudius now planned to get rid of Hamlet. He had to be careful because the people were fond of the young prince. He sent Hamlet to England with two courtiers. The people were told that Hamlet was sailing on state business. But the two courtiers were given a letter for the King of England to put Hamlet to death as soon as he arrived.
On board the ship, Hamlet found the letter opened it and read it, unknown to the courtiers. He rubbed out his own name in the letter and, in its place, wrote the names of the two courtiers. He sealed the letter with his father’s seal and put it back in its place.
On the following day, the ship was attacked by pirates who seized Hamlet and carried him off with them. The courties in their ship went on their way to England, and to their deaths. Hamlet was landed by pirates on the coast of Denmark, not far from the royal castle. From there, Hamlet wrote to Horatio, beggaing him to come him as soon as he could. Horatio came and learned of Hamlet’s adventure and the treachery of the King.
Hamlet and Horatio were making their way homewards to the castle when they came to a churchyard. Here they stopped to speak to two men who were digging a grave. While they were talking to the grave-diggers, a funeral procession entered the churchyard. It was led by the King and the Queen, and among the mourners was Laertes, the brother of Ophelia. Hamlet and his companion hid themselves behind a grave-stone and listened to the funeral service. They wondered whose it was.
They heard the priest say that he could not read the regular funeral service because they dead woman had taken her own life. They heard Laertes shout at the priest, “I tell you, she will be singing in heaven while you are howling in hell.” Then the Queen scattered flowers over the coffin, saying, “I hoped to give you flowers for your wedding. Never did I think to scatter them over your grave, sweet Ophelia!”
Ophelia! It was Ophelia who was dead! Ophelia who had killed herself! “And,” thought Hamlet, “she killed herself becasue of me, my strange behaviour, my murder of her father. Oh!” He was overcome with grief and remorse.
Then Laertes, wild with sorrow, leapt into his sister’s grave. Hamlet jumped in after him. Laertes, who blamed Hamlet for two deaths, seized his enemy by the throat. And there, in the grave, the two men fought fiercely till they were separated by the others. “Forty thousand brothers could never love Ophelia as much as I did!” Hamlet shouted wildly. He wept bitter tears as Horatio led him away.
Claudius’s first plan to get rid of Hamlet had failed. Now he thought of a second one, using Laertes as his tool. Laertes, eager to avenge his fatehr and his sister, was ready to carry out the King’s wishes. He agreed to fight Hamlet in a fencing match, using a sword with a sharp point — a thing forbidden in matches. Moreover, he would put poison on the point so that even a scratch would mean death.
Hamlet readily agreed to fight with Leartes, for he thought that the match was  a friendly for he thought that the match was friendly one. He took it as a sign of goodwill on the part of Laertes. The King’s evil plan did not end here. He prepared a cup of poisoned wine in order to make the death of Hamlet more certain. In the middle of the match, he would drink a cup of wine to the success of his stepson. He would then offer Hamlet a drink from the poisoned cup. Hamlet, who would certainly be thirsty, would drink and die.
The match began. At first Hamlet showed himself to be the stronger fencer. Then tehre was a pause for the two fencers to rest. The King drank to Hamlet’s success and offered Hamlet the poisoned cup. “Later,” said Hamlet “I will drink later.” The match was continued.
Laertes was striking harder now. Claudius watched and waited for the fatal blow. He did not see the Queen reach out her hand towards the poisoned cup and drink from it. At that moment, Laertes wounded Hamlet slightly with his sharp-pointed sword. Hamlet, now aware of Laertes’ shameful deceit, threw himself on his enemy. He seized Laertes’ sword and wounded him with it.
Separate them! Stop the fight!” shouted the King.
There was a sudden cry from the Queen. She called out that she had been poisoned and fell down dead.
Hamlet felt that there was evil on all sides of him. He shouted to attendants to shut the doors so that no one should escape. “Treachery!” he shouted. “Seek it out!” Then Leartes fell to the ground, poisoned by his own sword. “The treachery is in me, Hamlet!” he cried. “And you too must die. No medicine can save you. The King…. The KIng’s to blame. Forgive me, Hamlet,” he begged with his last breath.
The King’s evil plot was now clear to Hamlet. He had only a few moments of life left but they were enough for him to take his revenge. He rushed at the King, strcuk him hard with the poisoned sword, and killed him on the spot.
Hamlet then sank to the groun, too weak to stand. He knew he was going to die. With his last remaining strength, he called Horatio to him and begged him to tell the world the true story of his father’s death and his own revenge. Horatio, overcome with grief, stretched out his hand for the poisoned cup. He had no wish to live after his friend’s death. But Hamlet stopped him and made him promise to live on and tell the true story of the tragedy. The last words he uttered before he died were “The rest is silence.”
With tears in his eyes, Horatio gazed sadly at his dead friend. “Good night, sweet prince,” he said, “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

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