Born a prince, parented by a jester, haunted by a ghost, destined to kill a king rather than become one, and remembered as the tragic hero of a story he did not want to be in.
Appropriately for the villain of the play Hamlet, his name is never spoken aloud by any other character. Queen Gertrude loves him—but does Claudius love her as much as he loves her throne?
Her choice of husband dooms her life and the lives of everyone around her. Her wished-for, happy-ever-after fairytale descends into a nightmare and ends in a bloodbath.
Ophelia’s sanity is overwhelmed by a maddening world of deception and betrayal. Her ‘self-slaughter’ is her revenge against everyone who dismissed, silenced and humiliated her.
By surrendering Denmark to his rival’s son, Hamlet grants to the angry Ghost of his “dear father” the forgiveness his suffering soul needed more than the revenge he demanded.
The relationship between uncle and nephew begins with mutual suspicion and dislike, escalates into a psychological battle of wits and ends with the destruction of the entire Hamlet family.
Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius and her collusion with the prince’s confinement at Elsinore creates a barrier between mother and son who are as different from one another as is humanly possible.
Begins in uncertainty, descends into mutual deceit and rejection, and ends with their double surrender to death: she to the water, he to Claudius’ rigged fencing duel.
A genuine friendship in an Elsinore poisoned by betrayal. But does Hamlet exploit his friend’s loyalty with his improbable tale of divinely-inspired rescue by pirates?
A marriage of practical interest: Claudius wanted something (the kingship) he did not have; Gertrude had something (the role of queen) she wanted to hold onto.
Deception, revenge, madness, corruption, decay, and death—all shaped by destiny. A prince is left with an impossible choice when his uncle chooses murder; his father, revenge; and his mother, self-delusion.
Two young men journey from revenge, through madness and anger, to forgiveness. An opportunist claims an empty throne. And a restless Ghost is granted atonement for his sins by his kingdom-surrendering son.
‘Seems’ and ‘is’ are as far apart as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are similar in a play-long triple pun on the verb ‘to act’: to take action, to play a false role, and to perform in theater.