2. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
• Written by William Shakespeare in London,
• Written in the early 17th century; probably
• Tone: Dark, violent, melancholy, passionate,
• Setting: The late Medieval period in
3. SETTING: “ELSINORE”
• The play is set in
Denmark, specifically the
castle of ELSINORE.
• It takes place in the
Danish Royal Court.
• This photo is of the
Castle in Helsingor,
4. GENRES: TRAGEDY AND MORE
• With the writing of Hamlet, Shakespeare was aiming for high artistic
purpose and form.
• Tragedies are often about the forces of good and evil.
• Hamlet has a main REVENGE PLOT, which also has elements of HORROR.
• There are elements of ROMANCE (Hamlet and Ophelia).
• There are elements of WAR (looming conflict with Norway).
5. WAR IN HAMLET: DENMARK VS. NORWAY
• In the play, there is a sub-plot about Denmark and Norway being in
• Norway’s crown Prince, Fortinbras, is talked about many times
since Claudius is worried about Norway invading Denmark.
• Hamlet’s father (King Hamlet) killed Fortinbras’ father (Old
Fortinbras) in battle, so there is personal history there.
• Hamlet and Fortinbras (the characters) are both very motivated in
their actions by the deaths of their fathers.
6. WHO IS HAMLET?
• The title of the play is also the name of its main character,
• Hamlet is the protagonist (main character) of the play. He is
a very complicated character who shows a lot of emotions,
intelligence, and humour.
• Hamlet is also a “tragic hero”.
9. CHARACTERS: HAMLET’S FAMILY
• HAMLET – the Prince of Denmark, and son of the late King Hamlet.
• CLAUDIUS – the new King of Denmark; he is also Hamlet’s uncle.
• GERTRUDE – the Queen of Denmark; Hamlet’s mother; also married
to Claudius. Hamlet is fixated on their “incestuous” relationship.
• KING HAMLET, also known as GHOST – Hamlet’s dead father, who
appears three times in the play as a ghost. The ghost is seen by
10. • Hamlet and the Ghost.
Henry Fuseli, CC0 Public
Domain, 1789. Web. 30 Mar.
11. OTHER KEY CHARACTERS
• POLONIUS – a close advisor to King Claudius.
• OPHELIA – Polonius’ daughter; she is interested in Hamlet.
• LAERTES – Polonius’ son; a young nobleman who doesn’t trust
• HORATIO – Hamlet’s faithful friend.
• ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN – school friends of Hamlet.
12. LAERTES & OPHELIA:
• Laertes and Ophelia. Digital
image. Wikigallery. William
Gorman Wills. CC0 Public
Domain, 1 Jan. 1880. Web. 30
13. PLOT STRUCTURE
• Shakespearean tragedies usually have 5 Acts,
with a basic structure:
• Beginning / Exposition;
• Middle (bulk of play);
• Ending / Catastrophe.
14. READY TO BEGIN?
• As the play starts, the King of Denmark, King Hamlet, has
• His son, Prince Hamlet, has returned from Germany where he
was attending school in Wittenburg.
• Hamlet returns to Danish court to find that his uncle
Claudius has assumed the throne and his mother has re-
• Hamlet is hardly pleased about all this news.