Hamlet Book Summary, Characters and Analysis, William Shakespeare


What is the summary of the book Hamlet written by William Shakespeare? Information about the summary, review, characters and analysis of Hamlet.



Hamlet is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is one of his most famous works, and is considered one of the greatest plays of all time. The play tells the story of Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who is driven to avenge his father’s murder by his uncle, Claudius, who has taken over the throne and married Hamlet’s mother. The play explores themes of revenge, incest, and the corruption of power, and is a quintessential work of the tragic genre. The play has been adapted into numerous films, television shows, and operas, and continues to be a popular and enduring work of literature and drama.


The play begins with Prince Hamlet returning home to Denmark for the funeral of his father, King Hamlet. He is still grieving for his father, and is deeply troubled by the fact that his mother, Queen Gertrude, has quickly remarried his uncle, Claudius, who has now taken the throne.

Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father, who tells him that Claudius murdered him. The ghost urges Hamlet to avenge his death by killing Claudius. Hamlet is horrified by this revelation, and struggles with the idea of taking violent revenge.


In order to confirm the Ghost’s story, Hamlet decides to feign madness in order to observe Claudius and gather evidence of his guilt. He also begins to treat his love interest Ophelia cruelly, both as a means of proving his supposed madness, and also because of his growing mistrust and contempt for women as a result of Gertrude’s remarriage.

As the play progresses, Hamlet becomes increasingly obsessed with the idea of revenge, and this begins to take a toll on his mental and emotional well-being. He is further plagued by the fact that he is unable to take immediate action against Claudius, as he is unsure of the Ghost’s true identity and fears that he may be acting on a false accusation.

Meanwhile, Claudius becomes increasingly paranoid about Hamlet’s erratic behavior, and begins to plot against him. He orders Hamlet to be sent to England, but Hamlet manages to foil this plan. He also arranges for a troupe of actors to perform a play called The Murder of Gonzago, which bears a striking resemblance to the story of King Hamlet’s murder. The play is performed in front of Claudius and the entire court, with the intent of making Claudius reveal his guilt.

As the play reaches its climax, Hamlet finally decides to take action and confronts Claudius, but he is still plagued by indecision and doubts about the morality of his actions. In the end, Hamlet kills Claudius but dies in the process along with Ophelia and other characters. The play ends with Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, taking the throne of Denmark.

Throughout the play, Shakespeare explores many deep and complex themes such as the nature of revenge, the corruption of power, the human condition, and the ambiguities of truth and perception. The play also delves into the human mind and its workings, the inner-turmoil of Hamlet and the impact of his actions on the people around him.


  1. Prince Hamlet: The titular character, he is the Prince of Denmark, and the son of the late King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. He is driven by a desire for revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who he believes murdered his father and stole the throne and his mother’s affections.
  2. Claudius: The King of Denmark, and Hamlet’s uncle. He is the primary antagonist of the play, as he murdered King Hamlet and marries Queen Gertrude. He is intelligent and a manipulator, always trying to maintain his power and protect his secret, but also wracked with guilt for his actions.
  3. Queen Gertrude: Hamlet’s mother and the Queen of Denmark. She is a complex character, who loves both her son and her husband, but also guilty of remarrying so soon after her husband’s death, and unable to see Claudius’ true nature.
  4. Polonius: The chief counsellor of Claudius, and the father of Laertes and Ophelia. He is a meddling, long-winded old man, who ultimately dies because of his own foolish actions.
  5. Ophelia: Daughter of Polonius and love interest of Hamlet. A kind and innocent woman who is used as a pawn in the political game between Claudius and Hamlet.
  6. Horatio: Hamlet’s closest friend and confidante, who acts as a sounding board for Hamlet’s thoughts and feelings throughout the play.
  7. Laertes: Ophelia’s brother and a foil to Hamlet. He is hot-headed and impulsive, and is driven by a desire for revenge after his father’s death.
  8. The Ghost: The ghost of King Hamlet, whose appearance sets the events of the play in motion. It’s a mysterious figure, whose appearance and motives are open to interpretation.
  9. Fortinbras: The Prince of Norway, who becomes the ruler of Denmark after the death of all the major characters.

These are the main characters, but there are other minor characters in the play, such as the players and other courtiers, that have also a role in the story and also adds to the complexity of the play.


Hamlet is a play that is rich in meaning and complexity, and has been the subject of much literary and critical analysis.


One of the major themes of the play is the nature of revenge. Hamlet is driven by a desire for revenge against Claudius for the murder of his father, but is plagued by doubt and indecision about the morality of taking violent revenge. Through his character, Shakespeare explores the idea that revenge is a destructive and self-perpetuating cycle, and that it ultimately leads to the downfall of those who seek it.

Another important theme of the play is the corruption of power. Claudius, who is presented as an intelligent, charismatic and manipulative figure, uses his power to maintain his control over the kingdom and to protect his own interests. He is the embodiment of corrupt power, while Hamlet is seen as the tragic hero who is unable to accept the corruption around him.

The play also explores the complex nature of the human mind and its workings, as well as the inner-turmoil of the characters and their actions. The character of Hamlet is particularly noteworthy in this regard, as he is plagued by self-doubt, indecision, and a sense of alienation from the world around him.

Another major theme of the play is the ambiguity of truth and perception. Throughout the play, characters are deceived and misled, and the audience is left to question what is real and what is not. The play also explores the idea that people’s perceptions of the truth can be influenced by their own desires, fears, and prejudices.

The play also touches on the themes of the incest, the emotional and moral boundaries, the impact of actions on the people around and the complexity of human emotions and actions.

Finally, the play is also a showcase of Shakespeare’s mastery of language, with its memorable quotes, soliloquies, and poetic imagery. He uses a wide range of literary devices such as irony, satire, and metaphor to create a layered and nuanced text that continues to be studied and enjoyed by audiences around the world.

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