The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Story of Hamlet is based on a Danish revenge story from the 1100s -Shakespeare modified to fill with dread and uncertainty
Product of Reformation (protestants broke away from church & skeptical humanism) Hamlet has constant anxiety about appearance vs. reality, concerns with religion (related to the Reformation)
Prince Hamlet Son of old king Hamlet and GertrudeVisited by fathers ghost who asked him to seek revenge for his murderDriven by revenge, hatredIs extremely philosophical and moodyLearns to be disgusted by womenMay have had an Oedipal Complex
Claudius Brother of Old King Hamlet (Hamlet’s stepdad/uncle)Husband to GertrudeKilled Old King Hamlet
Gertrude Wife of Old King Hamlet; now wife of his brother, ClaudiusWas seduced into marrying Claudius by lust and giftsDefined by her need for affectionExtremely dependent on men
Polonius Lord Chamberlain – responsible for all court functionsForces Ophelia to stay away from HamletFather of Ophelia and Laertes
Ophelia Is completely dominated by menEventually goes insane
Laertes Seems to have an incestuous lust for his sister, OpheliaWants to kill Hamlet for what happens to his sister
Horatio Hamlet’s best friendFirst to tell Hamlet about the ghost of his father
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of HamletSummoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior
The Ghost Claims to have been murdered by ClaudiusNever really know if he is real or in Hamlet’s head
Fortinbras Prince of NorwayFather was killed by Hamlet’s fatherWishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honorFoil for Prince Hamlet