Shakespeare for Young Readers

Published:  12:22 AM, 15 November 2018

The story of Hamlet


Prince of Denmark, Hamlet lost all his cheerful spirits after the death of his father King Hamlet. And he was also distressed because his mother married his uncle Claudius who ascended the throne after that, which the people took it for an action for callousness. They didn't take it nicely as Claudius didn't even resemble the late king in looks nor in qualities of his mind. He is also an improper and unworthy king and some people suspect that he murdered his brother in order to get the throne and marrying his late brother's widow.

The death of his father and his mother's remarriage had shaken up the young prince Hamlet, who grew tired and bored of his life and lost all his looks, liveliness, cheeriness, his princely exercises and sports. All of the efforts made by his mother Gertrude and the king went in vain to divert him from the sorrow.

One night the soldiers see the spirit of the dead king upon watch on the palace's platform for two to three nights and the young prince gets the wind of the news. The prince has no reasons to disbelieve so many soldiers' testimony including his best friend, Horatio. So one night he goes to checkup on that. At midnight, the spirit appears again and he thinks his father wishes to talk to him in private and so, in spite of the protests of Horatio, he goes to talk to his father's spirit. The spirit tells him that his uncle Claudius has poisoned him in the ear while he was taking a nap and murdered him for the throne; it also told Hamlet that he should seek revenge from his father's murderer.

After that incident, the ghost that Hamlet saw the other night haunts his imaginations. Hamlet wants to be sure that what the spirit told him was not some kind of treachery and so he puts up a play called 'The Murder of Gonzago' where he recreates the sequence of his father's murder. He observes the expression of guilt on Claudius's face. And then Claudius abruptly leaves the room which convinces Hamlet that Claudius was his father's murderer. Hamlet makes up his mind to kill Claudius.

Hamlet was sent for by his mother, though it was the king's desire to tell him that his recent behavior had not pleased them. The king wanted to know about their conversation so he set Polonius behind the hangings in the closet so he could pass on their conversation to the king.

Hamlet goes there and as they converse he hears a sound in the closet and thinking that it was the king himself eavesdropping at their conversation, he takes his sword out and stabs at the place from where the sound came. But later when he realizes that he killed the father of Ophelia, the lady he so deeply cared for, he is filled with guilt and sorrow. The king then sends Hamlet to England claiming that it is for his safety that he is being sent there, so that he won't be tried for in court for Polonius's assassination. But veritably Claudius's plan was more than just that. He sends two courtiers to assist Hamlet on the ship to England with letters that he should be killed as soon as he hits English ground. But Hamlet suspects that there is treachery and goes through the letters, where he erases his name and jots down the two courtiers' names instead.

 Midway, the ship is attacked by pirates who will kill everyone except Hamlet so that he would help them someday. So Hamlet again returns to Denmark and sees Ophelia's funeral taking place, who died out of sorrow of her father's death.  Laertes, Ophelia's brother comes back to Denmark in rage and makes a plot with Claudius to kill Hamlet. Laertes applies poison in his sword so that if it struck Hamlet, he would die immediately whereas the king prepares a goblet with poison for Hamlet to drink in midst of the swordfight.

During the swordfight, Laertes's sword falls and Hamlet, taking advantage of the situation, picks it up and hits Laertes with the poisoned sword killing him. On the other side, Hamlet's mother, thinking that Hamlet is winning drinks the poisonous goblet intended for Hamlet and dies. Before Laertes dies, he says Hamlet was also struck by the poisoned sword so he will die too and confesses his plot he devised with Claudius. He also says that Claudius is responsible for his mother's death. Hamlet, enraged, stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and he dies.

As Hamlet is dying, he declares/proclaims the throne should pass to prince Fortinbras of Norway and beseeches his friend Horatio to explain the deaths of the Danish royal family. Prince Fortinbras ascends the throne of Denmark.

The writer is a student of Class XI, HURDCO International School, Dhaka

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