amlet, the Prince of Denmark, returns home from university to discover the world-shattering news that, not only is his father (Old Hamlet) newly dead, but that his mother, Gertrude, has marriedOld Hamlet's brother, Claudius, and Claudius is now king.These resulting instabilities have also led to threats of invasion by a solider from a neighboring state, Fortinbras. Late one night, the ghost of Hamlet's father appears to him, accusing Claudius of his murder and urging Hamlet to revenge. This sets in motion a train of events that destroys both family and state.
No longer able to trust his own senses, the loyalty of his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or even the affections of his young love, Ophelia, Hamlet fakes madness in an attempt to provide himself with proof that the ghost is telling the truth. Aided only by his most loyal companion, Horatio, he persuades a traveling band of actors to re-enact the story of his father's murder in front of Claudius and Gertrude, hoping that Claudius will be so stirred by remorse that he will confess his crime.
During an intense meeting with his mother, Hamlet hears a noise and realizes that they are being spied upon. In rage, he stabs the hidden eavesdropper, believing it to be Claudius. Instead his discovers it is the King's adviser, Polonius, father to both Ophelia and her brother, Laertes. Polonius dies. Afraid of what Hamlet might do next, Claudius has him arrested and dispatched to England under guard, where he has arranged to have Hamlet murdered. Hamlet escapes, returns to his homeland and finally achieves his revenge.
Ophelia, having been violently rejected by Hamlet, hears that her father has been murdered. She loses her mind and eventually drowns herself. Her brother, Laertes, returns to court at the head of an angry mob, determined to find out the truth. Claudius convinces him that Hamlet is the only guilty party and agrees to help Laertes gain revenge.On learning of Hamlet's escape and return to his homeland, Claudius convinces Laertes to challenge Hamlet to a fencing match and advises Laertes on how to kill Hamlet during the duel without arousing suspicion. Asa back-up plan, Claudius also poisons a glass of wine which he intends to offer to Hamlet. Gertrude, however, drinks from the glass first and dies.