Hamlet – in 4 Minutes


Hamlet is a play written in about sixteen hundred by
William Shakespeare, and is one of the most popular and influential stories ever.
Hamlet is set in Denmark, at a time when Norway is about to attack, and some dodgy stuff is
happening in the royal castle of Elsinore. Prince Hamlet is the son of King Hamlet and
Queen Gertrude. At the start of the play, King Hamlet has died, and the king’s brother
Claudius has married Gertrude and taken over as king. Prince Hamlet is very upset by all
this, moping around, saying he wants to die and that everything sucks. He’s especially
angry that Gertrude married Claudius so soon after the King’s death.
So Claudius and Gertrude are concerned by Hamlet’s behaviour. They try to cheer Hamlet
up, and when that doesn’t work they get a couple of his old friends, Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern, to spy on him, though Hamlet sees through the deception.
Then a ghost appears to Prince Hamlet, claiming to be his dead father. King Hamlet’s ghost
says that he was murdered by Claudius with poison, and demands that Prince Hamlet avenge
him by killing Claudius. Hamlet isn’t entirely sure that the ghost really is his dead father,
but he agrees to kill Claudius. He tells his friends Horatio and Marcellus that he will
act as though he’s mad, to prevent drawing suspicion.
Hamlet meets with Ophelia, who he has a romantic relationship with. Hamlet acts crazy and awful
to her, telling her he never loved her and to get to a nunnery. Ophelia’s father, Polonius,
says he thinks Hamlet is mad with love, though earlier he was saying that Hamlet doesn’t
love her at all. So Hamlet has a plan to work out for sure
whether Claudius killed King Hamlet. He gets a group of actors to perform a play in which
a king is murdered with poison. Claudius leaves the room in the middle of the play, which
Hamlet sees as proof that his uncle killed his father. Later, Hamlet comes across Claudius,
wrestling with his guilt in prayer. Hamlet almost kills Claudius there and then, but
he decides not to, saying that Claudius might go to heaven if he’s killed while praying.
So then Hamlet is talking with his mother Gertrude, when he hears a noise behind a tapestry
in the room. He thinks it’s Claudius, so he stabs the tapestry but out falls Polonius,
who was spying on the conversation. Having killed Polonius, Hamlet berates his mother
a bit more, telling her not to have sex with Claudius, until the ghost of King Hamlet pops
up again and tells his son to stop mucking around and kill Claudius already.
Claudius is not feeling terribly safe at this point, so he sends Hamlet with Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern to England, with a letter to the King of England saying to kill Hamlet.
Hamlet finds the letter and changes it so it says to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
instead. Meanwhile, Ophelia has gone mad from the death of her dad and her rejection by
Hamlet, and her brother Laertes, Polonius’ other child, has returned from France furious.
He and Claudius make a plan of their own – they’ll challenge Hamlet to a fencing match, but Laertes
will have a poisoned sword, and Claudius will offer Hamlet poisoned wine.
So Hamlet comes home to Denmark, talks with a gravedigger, contemplates death, and finds
out that Ophelia has drowned, apparently in a suicidal fit of madness. He has a fistfight
with Laertes over who loved Ophelia more. And then the fencing match begins. Laertes
cuts Hamlet with his poisoned sword, then they accidentally switch swords and Hamlet
cuts Laertes with the poisoned sword. Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine (seemingly unknowingly),
and Hamlet finally kills Claudius. So almost everyone dies, leaving only Horatio to tell the
tale to Fortinbras, a Norwegian prince who turns up at the end to take over the Danish
throne. So that’s Hamlet. There are lots of interesting
questions to be asked about why the characters do what they do. Like, what’s motivating
Hamlet? What exactly is he so upset about, and why does it take him so long to do anything?
Is Hamlet really pretending to be mad, or does he actually go a bit crazy? What about
his relationship with Ophelia? Did Hamlet ever love her? And what’s going on with
Gertrude – how much does she know? There’s lots of stuff going on in
Hamlet about justice and identity and action and uncertainty and power and gender, and
that’s part of why Hamlet is so popular four hundred years after it was written. It’s
also full of really cool lines, really poetic stuff, and funny stuff. You can easily read
it online if you wanna check it out. Anyway thanks for watching. Let me know if
you’d like to see more summaries like this. You can support this channel by subscribing, and following on Facebook and Twitter.

100 Replies to “Hamlet – in 4 Minutes

  1. I had to connect a book about people performing Hamlet to the original Hamlet but I didn't know anything about it, so thanks for this very helpful video

  2. Just saw this play directed by ted pappas in Pittsburgh. For my first time seeing Hamlet, I really enjoyed it. The acting was spot on and I could tell I was going to fall in love with Shakespeare, but the story means a lot more to me now that I have seen as an adult.

  3. You should make one with better vocabulary soon, now that we understand the play better. (Thanks for that btw)

  4. To be, or not to be: that is the question:

    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

    And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

    No more; and by a sleep to say we end

    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

    That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

    Must give us pause: there's the respect

    That makes calamity of so long life;

    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

    The insolence of office and the spurns

    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

    When he himself might his quietus make

    With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,

    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

    But that the dread of something after death,

    The undiscover'd country from whose bourn

    No traveller returns, puzzles the will

    And makes us rather bear those ills we have

    Than fly to others that we know not of?

    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

    And thus the native hue of resolution

    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

    And enterprises of great pith and moment

    With this regard their currents turn awry,

    And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!

    The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons

    Be all my sins remember'd.

  5. …..drink this poison…..you murderous Dane…..follow my mother to the grave”
    -Hamlet (when Mel Gibson was hot)

    I thought Hamlet was crazy because he saw his dead father………DEAD father’s spirit telling him his mother & stepfather were traitors.He was already under great stress & his mind took the joke story his friends played on him……& ran with it.
    Still hot,though.

  6. Cool..
    40 years old -young! And this is the 1st time I've ever heard the hamlet story. ..
    All them sayings at the end are so familer.. Great. To be or not to be! That is the question/!// heratio!!! Ha

  7. Honestly, I'm glad Horatio survived the whole play, I think he was the only character that wasn't a piece of shit or didnt go bat shit crazy at some point

  8. You forgot the skull Situation and his emotional bond to the formerly living person on the graveyard for suiciders. Also why he was capable to know who the skull belonged to. Besides it was very well explained.

  9. Lol i had to play Horatio in my Class play and im a girl. Most of then were but i was assigned to it and they gave me the worst costume but i just dealt with it haha

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