Hamlet Scene Summaries

Act 1 Scene 1 Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus are discussing a ghost. The ghost appears twice during the scene. They decide to tell Hamlet about it.
Act 1 Scene 2 Laertes is permitted to return to France but Hamlet must stay. Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus arrive and tell Hamlet about the ghost.
Act 1 Scene 3 Laertes tells Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet. He then says goodbye to her and Polonius (his father.) Polonius repeats Laertes’ warnings about Hamlet.
Act 1 Scene 4 The ghost appears to Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus. Hamlet decides to follow it. Marcellus and Horatio do not want him to but they end up following him as well.
Act 1 Scene 5 The ghost tells Hamlet that it was the Uncle who killed the king. Hamlet vows for revenge and swear Horatio and Marcellus to secrecy.
Act 2 Scene 1 Polonius and Reynaldo are talking. Reynaldo leaves, ophelia enters and is clearly worried about Hamlet.
Act 2 Scene 2 Hamlet figures out that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were sent by the king and queen as spies. A guild of actors come in and speak for Hamlet. Hamlet is going to have them perform “The Murder of Gonzago” for the king and see if his conscience/guilt is evident.
Act 3 Scene 1 Hamlet is talking with Ophelia and suddenly becomes offensive. The king decides to send him to England but only after Hamlet speaks to the Queen.
Act 3 Scene 2 The play unfolds and Claudius storms off. The Queen wishes to speak with Hamlet. Claudius is furious.
Act 3 Scene 3 The king is praying. Hamlet enters to kill him but decides to wait until he is not praying so that he will go to Hell rather than Heaven.
Act 3 Scene 4 Hamlet goes to converse with his mother. Polonius is hiding and Hamlet kills him after scaring them. The ghost appears only to Hamlet. Hamlet tells his mother what Claudius did and says goodbye since he will be going to England.
Act 4 Scene 1 Queen tells king about Polonius’ death. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sent to find body and Hamlet.
Act 4 Scene 2 Hamlet won’t tell where body is.
Act 4 Scene 3 Hamlet sent to Claudius, is leaving for England. He (king) conspires to kill Hamlet.
Act 4 Scene 4 Hamlet crosses Fortinbras and army’s path, thinks of a plan to kill Claudius.
Act 4 Scene 5 Ophelia has gone mad and is singing. Claudius tells Laertes he is innocent in Polonius’ death. Laertes is sad because Ophelia has gone mad.
Act 4 Scene 6 Horatio receives letter from Hamlet telling of boarding and pirate ship and his return to Denmark.
Act 4 Scene 7 Claudius and Laertes devise a plan to kill Hamlet upon his retire. Queen announces Ophelia has drowned.
Act 5 Scene 1 Hamlet comes upon a gravedigger and wonders who the grave is for. A funeral procession comes and he realizes it is for Ophelia.
Act 5 Scene 2 Hamlet tells Horatio he discovered the king’s plot against him. He agrees to fence Laertes. Gertrude drinks a poisoned cup and dies. Laertes, Hamlet, and the King are all killed by each other. Fortinbras arrives and is named king and gives Hamlet a military funeral.