Hamlet minimized

King Hamlet of Denmark has died within the past month. The late king’s brother Claudius is now king.  King Claudius has married the late king’s widow, Gertrude, and the late king’s son, Prince Hamlet, is upset over this turn of events.  Saying he is upset doesn’t quite say it.

1. Prince Hamlet’s good friend Horatio sees the Ghost of the late king, saying “this spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him,” meaning the prince.  A guard says “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”  With little success, Claudius tries to comfort the depressed Prince Hamlet, Hamlet telling us that he wished his “sullied flesh would melt into a dew.”  The Ghost does talk with Hamlet, letting him know that Claudius did kill him and that he needs to seek revenge.  Polonius, a friend of the late king’s, has two children, Laertes and Ophelia, she being Hamlet’s girlfriend.  Polonius offers them wise counsel.

2. A troop of actors arrives with plans to entertain the king. Hamlet asks if they have “The Murder of Gonzago” in their repertoire.  They do.  Hamlet says “We’ll have it tomorrow night.

3. Hamlet provides us with his famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy. He breaks up with Ophelia. The “Gonzago” play begins.  The plot includes a king who kills his brother, who then becomes king, and who then marries the late king’s wife.  Claudius rushes out of the theater. Claudius makes plans to send Hamlet on a one way trip to England.  Hamlet inadvertently kills Polonius. The Ghost reappears and reminds Hamlet “Do not forget.”

4. Hamlet is sent to England. Ophelia’s heart is broken, having lost Hamlet and now her father. Laertes, having been in France, returns an angry young man. Hamlet has escaped the ship and returned to Denmark. Claudius sets up a “playful” duel between Laertes and Hamlet. The tip of Laertes’ foil will be poisoned.  The available wine will be poisoned.  Ophelia drowns.

5. Hamlet and Laertes prepare for their sporting duel. Gertrude inadvertently drinks from the cup of wine and dies. Hamlet forces Claudius to drink from the same cup.  He dies. Hamlet is scratched by Laertes foil.  In the scuffle, rapiers are inadvertently exchanged. Laertes is scratched.  Both Laertes and Hamlet fall.  Laertes dies. A dying Hamlet suggests Norway’s Fortinbras be named Denmark’s king. Fortinbras says of Hamlet “He was likely to have proved most royal.”