Act I

Officer Barnardo arrives to relieve sentinel Francisco of his watch on a gun platform on the battlements of Castle Elsinore. Barnardo asks Francisco to identify himself. The two talked for a while and Francisco thanked Barnardo for the relief, for it was very cold and he was feeling sick. Horatio and Marcellus enter. They identify themselves as loyal Danish subjects. Fransisco leaves. Marcellus asks Barnardo if he has seen the ghost and Barnardo tells him that he has not seen anything of such a kind. Marcellus tells Barnardo that he had brought Horatio to see the Ghost himself, as he wanted Horatio to witness it and talk to it. Horatio is not sure that the Ghost will appear, but he still listens carefully as Barnardo readies to retell the tale of the Ghost’s previous appearance. Before Barnardo could begin, the ghost appeared. Marcellus encourages Horatio to speak to the ghost. Horatio cannot deny the fact that there is actually a ghost.

The three of them agree that the ghost was real and it is actually the spirit of the recently dead King Hamlet – majesty of buried Denmark. They urge the ghost to stay, but the ghost disappears in the darkness of the night. Horatio is shocked by this strange encounter. He says he would never have believed it if he had not seen the ghost himself. The ghost of King Hamlet is dressed in armor which he wore when he defeated the poles and conquered old King Fortinbras. Horatio finds the dress ironic because, at that moment, young Fortinbras, the dead Norwegian king’s son, has declared war on the Danes to take revenge for the death of his father. He aims to take his land back that King Hamlet took. Since the Danes are preparing themselves against the attack of the Norwegians, Barnardo assumes that the ghost might be an indication of defeat for the Danes. Horatio recalls the omens that warned Julius Caesar of his fate.The ghost reappears. Horatio asks them not to leave.

Horatio then realizes that the sun was about to rise and that the ghosts cannot stay out in the daylight. The ghost once again disappears in the night. The three of them were sure that they had seen the Ghost of King Hamlet and they decide to inform Prince Hamlet about it. Claudius, the new King of Denmark, his wife Gertrude and various Courtiers, including Prince Hamlet, Claudius’s aide Polonius, Polonius’s son Laertes, and the ambassadors to Norway, Voltemond and Cornelius, enter the stateroom. Claudius announces his marriage to Gertrude, the widow of the Former King and his brother King Hamlet. He explains that the thread from the Danish army does not allow them to mourn over the loss of the King. Their mourning is being mistaken as weakness. Like Caludius, Fortinbras’s uncle controls the throne after the death of his brother. Claudius hopes that the old man has the power to stop Fortinbras from attacking Denmark, so he sends his ambassadors to inform the King about Fortinbras’s plans. Laertes asked the King for permission to return to school in France. Claudius asked Polonius and he replied positively. The King and Queen then notice Hamlet’s dark behaviour. The Queen, Gertrude, asks him to get over the death of his father and move on with life. The Queen asks him why he is so upset about the death of his father. Hamlet gets angry and he tells her that he is not pretentious like her. He accuses her that she is pretending to be grieving while she actually is celebrating the death of King Hamlet. Claudius reminds Hamlet that he is going to be the next king and asks him not to return to school in Wittenberg. Hamlet unwillingly agrees to the request. This leaves the King and the Queen satisfied and they leave Hamlet to his own thoughts. Laertes prepares to return to his school. He prepares his sister Ophelia to reject her suitor, Prince Hamlet. He tells her that he cares for her heart and he does not want her to get hurt. Prince Hamlet is of a higher rank than she is and he only plays with her. To protect her heart and honour, he pledges Ophelia to reject Prince Hamlet before he dishonors her. Ophelia doesn’t take the advice seriously and asks her brother to be careful. Ophelia jokingly warns her brother that he might turn into a person who does not take his own advice. Polonious enters and he gives Laertes advice on how-to live-in Paris. He tells him the shoulds and shouldn’ts of a young man’s life. Laertes agrees and takes the leave of his father. He reminds Ophelia of his advice. Ophelia promises to take his advice. Polonius asks Ophelia about the conversation between her and Laertes and Ophelia tell him that Laertes warned her about Prince Hamlet. Polonius agrees to Laertes and tells Ophelia to break off her ties with Hamlet. Ophelia obeys and tells her father that she will break off her relationship with Prince Hamlet. Horatio and Marcellus meet Hamlet on the battlements of the castle. Hamlet bitterly comments on the drunken feasting of King Claudius. He says that it affects the reputation of Danes. According to Hamlet, people judge a man by the smallest defect in his nature and not by his strength. All of a sudden, Horatio notices the arrival of the Ghost. Hamlet immediately identifies the ghost as the spirit of his father, King Hamlet. He is uncertain if the ghost has descended from heaven or from hell. Hamlet asks the Ghost to explain the purpose of his arrival. The Ghost asks Hamlet to follow him. Hamlet follows the ghost. The Ghost leads Hamlet to the outer walls of Castle Elsinore. He admits that he is the spirit of King Hamlet. The Ghost wants Hamlet to listen carefully as his time is short. He tells him that he cannot share the secrets of the afterlife, but he desperately wants to pass on the tale to Hamlet. He wants Hamlet to avenge his death. The Ghost tells him that Claudius had seduced the Queen. The Queen, together with the new King, poured a lethal poison in King Hamlet’s ear while he was napping. The poison curdled the King’s blood and killed him. The Ghost asks Hamlet to leave the Queen and avenge Caludius alone. The Ghost exits and leaves Hamlet devastated. Horatio and Marcellus approach Hamlet worriedly. Hamlet does not tell them anything specific and demands that they take an oath to keep everything they hear and see a secret. Hamlet tells Horatio in secret that he will pretend to be mad so he can spy on his uncle and his mother. Horatio promises to keep everything to himself. Hamlets prays for the departed soul to rest in peace and curses his fate.

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