..                                                                                            George Brown College News Letter

    ........ Hamlet........
                                                by William Shakespeare                                           


        From Leota's web site ... with thanks.

Hamlet ....Prince of Denmark


Hamlet is the son of the late King Hamlet (of Denmark), who died two months before the start of the play. After King Hamlet's death, his brother, Claudius, becomes king, and marries King Hamlet's widow, Gertrude (Queen of Denmark). Young Hamlet fears that Claudius killed his own brother (Hamlet's father) to become king of Denmark, greatly angering Hamlet. Two officers, Marcellus and Barnardo, summon Hamlet's friend Horatio, and later Hamlet himself to see the late King Hamlet's ghost appear at midnight. The ghost tells Hamlet privately that Claudius had indeed murdered King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ear. Hamlet is further enraged and plots of how to revenge his father's death.

In his anger, Hamlet seems to act like a madman, prompting King Claudius, his wife Gertrude, and his advisor Polonius to send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet and figure out why he is acting mad. Hamlet even treats Polonius' daughter Ophelia rudely, prompting Polonius to believe Hamlet is madly in love with her, though Claudius expects otherwise. Polonius, a man who talks too long- windedly, had allowed his son Laertes to go to France (then sent Reynaldo to spy on Laertes) and had ordered Ophelia not to associate with Hamlet. Claudius, fearing Hamlet may try to kill him, sends Hamlet to England. Before leaving, however, Hamlet convinces an acting company to reenact King Hamlet's death before Claudius, in the hopes of causing Claudius to break down and admit to murdering King Hamlet. Though Claudius is enraged, he does not admit to murder. Hamlet's mother tries to reason with Hamlet after the play, while Polonius spied on them from behind a curtain. Hamlet hears Polonius, and kills him through the curtain, thinking the person is Claudius. When finding out the truth, Hamlet regrets the death, yet Claudius still sends him to England, accompanied by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with orders from Claudius that the English kill Hamlet as soon as her arrives.

After Hamlet leaves, Laertes returns from France, enraged over Polonius' death. Ophelia reacts to her father's death with utter madness and eventually falls in a stream and drowns, further angering Laertes. En route to England, Hamlet finds the orders and changes them to order Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed, as does occur, though Hamlet is kidnapped by pirates one day later. The pirates return Hamlet to Claudius (for a ransom), and Claudius tries one last attempt to eliminate Hamlet: he arranges a sword duel between Laertes and Hamlet. The trick, however, is that the tip of Laertes' sword is poisoned. As a backup precaution, Claudius poisons the victory cup in case Hamlet wins. During the fight, the poisoned drink is offered to Hamlet, he declines, and instead his mother, Gertrude, drinks it (to the objection of Claudius). Laertes, losing to Hamlet, illegally scratches him with the poisoned sword to ensure Hamlet's death. Hamlet (unknowingly), then switches swords with Laertes, and cuts and poisons him. The queen dies, screaming that she has been poisoned and Laertes, dying, admits of Claudius' treachery. Weakening, Hamlet fatally stabs Claudius, Laertes dies, and Hamlet begins his death speech. Though Horatio wants to commit suicide out of sorrow, Hamlet entreats him to tell the story of King Hamlet's death and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's deaths to all. Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, arrives from conquest of England, and Hamlet's last dying wish is that Fortinbras become the new King of Denmark, as happens.


William Shakespeare 1564-1616

  Born and died on the same date - 23rd April

England's greatest poet and playwright was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, the son of a tradesman and Alderman of Stratford, John Shakespeare in 1564.
William, the eldest son, and third child (of eight) was baptised on 26th April 1564 and probably educated at Stratford Grammar School, but little is known
of his life up to his eighteenth year. He did not go to University and his younger contemporary and fellow-dramatist, Ben Johnson, would later speak
disparagingly of his "small Latin, and less Greek" in the eulogy prefaced to the Firs Folio. However the Grammar School curriculum would have provided a formidable linguistic, and to some extent literary, education.

Although, in 1575 when he was eleven, there was a great plague in the country and Queen Elizabeth journeyed out of London to avoid its consequences and
stayed for several days at Kenilworth Castle near Stratford enjoying "festivities" arranged by her host Lord Leicester. It is probable these events may have made
 a strong impact on the mind of young William.

At the age of Eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior. Five years later he left for London. William worked at the Globe Theatre and
appeared in many small parts. He first appeared in public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis and the following year with The Rape of Lucrece. He became joint proprietor of The Globe and also had an interest in the Blackfriars Theatre.

The play writing commenced in 1595 and of the 38 plays that comprise the Shakespeare Cannon, 36 were published in the 1st Folio of 1623, of which 18 had
been published in his lifetime in what are termed the Quarto publications.

Love's Labour's Lost and The Comedy of Errors appear to be among the earliest, being followed by The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet.
Then followed Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, All's Well that Ends Well, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, As you like it, Twelth Night, Julius Caesar, Hamlet,
Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, King Lear, Timon of Athens, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale, The Tempest, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

When he retired from writing in 1611, he returned to Stratford to live in a house which he had built for his family. His only son, Hamnet died when still a child.
He also lost a daughter Judith (twin to Hamnet), but his third child Susanna married a Stratford Doctor, John Hall and their home "Hall's Croft" is today preserved
 as one of the Shakespeare Properties and administered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In 1616 Shakespeare was buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity the same Church where he was baptised in 1564. Tradition has it that he died after an
evening's drinking with some of his theatre friends. His gravestone bears the words:-

          Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,
          to digg the dust encloased heare,
          Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
          And curst be he yt moves my bones.

In his will Shakespeare left his wife, the former Anne Hathaway, his second best bed. We cannot be sure of the reason for this. It may have been the marital bed
the best bed being reserved for guests. It may suggest that they had a not altogether happy marriage which nevertheless produced three children, Susanna, born
on May 26th 1583 and twins , Hamnet and Judith, born on February 2nd 1585. These entries appear in the Holy Trinity Register.

There is no direct evidence of the marriage of William Shakespeare to Anne Hathaway although most historians accept that an entry in the Bishop's Register at Worcester in November 1582 regarding the issue of a marriage licence to William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton does not refer to the famous bard. However the following day a guarantee of £40 was undertaken in Stratford by two yeomen of the town against the prevention of the legal marriage of
William Shagspere and Anne Hathway on only one reading of the banns. In 1582 , £40 was a considerable sum of money and one cannot believe that the simple
fact of Anne's being three months pregnant would warrant it. No marriage of an Anne Whatelely has ever been traced, neither has the marriage of Anne Hathway, but lack of record does not mean that it did not happen.

Source of information