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Hamlet is disgusted by the marriage of his newly widowed mother, Queen Gertrude, to his Uncle, King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius, who now has the throne.Shortly thereafter, a ghost has appeared to guards on nightly watch as well as Hamlet’s good friend, Horatio, who thinks the spirit has a likeness to the former King Hamlet.Hamlet comes upon Claudius in the chapel, kneeling down to pray.
The ghost appears to Hamlet to refocus him on the task of killing Claudius.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, whose father’s lands were seized by the late King, decides to head to Denmark.
Claudius further employs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two childhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him further. A troupe of players happens to be in town and Hamlet utilizes the actors to determine the validity of his father’s murder.
He will have them perform the very act of murder, killing a king through poison in the ear, which the ghost has claimed.
None other than Queen Elizabeth I herself would have mulled these possibilities as word of Shakespeare's genius spread far and wide, by this time a grand reputation indeed.
In his cinematic recreation of Hamlet (1990), director Franco Zeffirelli eliminates this joining of king and country to create the semblance of a family feud among prototypical Shakespearean royalty with limited social implications limited to innocent bystanders in the court.Hamlet meets Gertrude in her room and an argument ensues.When he hears Polonius who is hiding behind the curtain shout for help, he stabs him thinking it is Claudius.He asks Horatio to watch Claudius’ reaction throughout the play.While the court is watching, Claudius is enraged and leaves the play convincing Hamlet that he is the murderer.While at sea, however, Hamlet discovers his planned murder and switches the orders, causing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be executed. Meanwhile back at Elsinore, Ophelia has gone mad with grief.Laertes returns from France and learns it was Hamlet who has killed his father, Polonius.Polonius gives Laertes advice on how to act abroad and orders Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet. Claudius and Gertrude are both concerned; Polonius suggests it is Ophelia’s rejection of his advances.Claudius and Polonius decide to spy on Hamlet and Ophelia.Claudius demands that Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern head for England.Claudius has sent a letter with them ordering Hamlet’s execution during the trip.