Hamlet is a tragedy play written by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. It tells the story of Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who is mourning the death of his father and struggling to come to terms with his mother’s hasty remarriage to his uncle. When he encounters the ghost of his father, who reveals that he was murdered by his uncle, Hamlet sets out on a mission of revenge. The play explores themes of grief, revenge, madness, and the nature of existence. It is considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest and most famous works.

Title: Hamlet

Playwright: William Shakespeare

Genre: Tragedy

Date of composition: Believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601

Setting: Denmark

Main characters:

  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the new King of Denmark
  • Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother and the Queen of Denmark
  • Polonius, chief counselor to the King
  • Ophelia, Polonius’s daughter, and Hamlet’s love interest
  • Horatio, Hamlet’s friend and confidante


  • Grief and mourning
  • Revenge and justice
  • Madness and mental illness
  • Deception and betrayal
  • The nature of existence

Famous quotes:

  • “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
  • “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
  • “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
  • “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

Notable adaptations:

  • There have been numerous film adaptations of the play, including versions starring Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson, and Kenneth Branagh.
  • The play has been adapted for the stage and screen in various ways, including as a musical and a modern-day retelling.
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