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Hamlet Commentary - Act I.

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Hamlet Commentary provides a comprehensive description of every act with explanations and translations for all important quotes.

Act I. Scene I. - Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle.

Francisco: "'tis bitter cold, / And I am sick at heart."

King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died from poisoning. Denmark is in a state of high alert and preparing for possible war with Young Fortinbras of Norway. A ghost resembling the late King Hamlet is spotted on a platform before Elsinore Castle in Denmark.

The play opens to the solitary scene of Francisco a soldier on guard duty on a platform before Elsinore Castle.

Bernardo, another soldier enters, asking "Who's there?" (Line 1).

Francisco does not reply, demanding identification from the intruder. Bernardo supplies this (Line 3) and Francisco warmly greets Barnardo as his replacement on guard duty. Barnardo tells us that it is midnight and advises his friend to"get thee [go to] bed," (Line 7).

Francisco is happy to do this, thanking Barnardo and saying "'tis [it is] bitter cold, / And I am sick at heart" (it is very cold and I am sick at heart), (Line 8), a line which symbolizes the mood of this play and the state of tension in Denmark.

Before leaving we learn from Francisco that it has been a quiet watch with "Not a mouse stirring" (not a mouse moving), (Line 10).

Francisco hears the approach of two men whom we soon learn are the soldiers Horatio and Marcellus who identify themselves as being loyal to Denmark (Lines 15-16).

Before leaving, Francisco tells Marcellus that Barnardo has relieved him.

Bernardo now meets up with Marcellus and Horatio, Marcellus asking if a certain apparition (The Ghost) seen before on a watch has returned.

Marcellus: "What! has this thing appear'd again to-night?" (Has the thing or the Ghost appeared again tonight?), (Line 21).

Learning from Bernardo that the apparition (The Ghost) has not returned, Marcellus explains the apparition further...

Barnardo explains that "Horatio says 'tis [it is] but our fantasy, [imagination]" but also that Horatio has agreed to sit with the men in case it appears again so Marcellus can prove the apparition is real and not merely fantasy (Lines 23-29).

Barnardo tells the skeptical Horatio to "sit down awhile," (Line 31) as Barnardo begins to tell the story of the apparition (Lines 29-39) when Marcellus notices the Ghost and cries out "Peace!" (Line 40), telling Horatio and Barnardo to look "where it [The Ghost] comes again!" (Line 40).

The Ghost now enters, Barnardo noting that this ghost has "the same figure [appearance], like the king that's dead" (the recently deceased King Hamlet of Denmark), (Line 41).

Marcellus tells Horatio to question the Ghost, after all "Thou [you-Horatio] art [are] a scholar;" he says (Line 42) .

Horatio is reluctant since he says the Ghost "harrows me with fear and wonder" (fills me with fear and wonder), (Line 44), but on Marcellus' urging, Horatio speaks to the Ghost.

Horatio now questions the Ghost, asking "What art [are] thou [you] that usurp'st [disturbs / takes] this time of night, / Together with that fair and war-like form [appearance] / In which the majesty of buried Denmark [King Hamlet of Denmark] / Did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee [command you], speak!" (Lines 47- 48).

The Ghost does not answer, Marcellus saying it is offended and Bernardo saying that it "stalks [runs] away" (Line 50).

With the Ghost gone, Marcellus and Bernardo notice that the unbelieving Horatio is pale and trembling (Line 53). Bernardo asks Horatio "Is not this something more than fantasy?" (Is this not more than fantasy as you suggested earlier), (Line 54).

Horatio still trembling, says he would never have believed in the Ghost had he not seen it with his own eyes (Line 56) and Horatio mentions that the Ghost not only looked like the now dead King Hamlet but wore the "very armour" that King Hamlet had on when "he the ambitious Norway combated;" (he fought the ambitious Fortinbras, King of Norway) and when King Hamlet "smote the sledded Polacks [Poles] on the ice" (defeated the Poles on the ice), (Lines 60-63).

Marcellus reminds Horatio that the Ghost of the King has appeared twice before, wearing this very armor, Horatio saying that in his opinion, the appearance of the Ghost "bodes some strange eruption to our state" (foretells that something very bad will happen to our country), (Line 68).

Marcellus now sets the context of the play by asking Horatio why their guard duty watches Denmark by night, why weapons are being constructed and being bought and why shipwrights are being made to work on Sunday, against normal custom (Lines 70-78).

Horatio answers that all these actions are happening because Denmark is preparing for war.

Horatio explains that the late King Hamlet fought King Fortinbras of Norway, killing him in single combat and securing for Denmark, Norwegian territory which by agreement fell to King Hamlet since he won the fight and killed King Fortinbras (Lines 80-95).

Now, explains Horatio, Young Fortinbras, the son of the late King Fortinbras and nephew to the current King of Norway, has raised a force of "lawless resolutes," (lawless men) to help him reclaim the lands his father, King Fortinbras of Norway lost by losing the fight against the late King Hamlet of Denmark (Lines 96-100).

Young Fortinbras is not described favorably, being characterized by Horatio as being "of unimproved mettle hot and full," (unlearned, hot-blooded and reckless / rash), (Line 96).

It is this fear of attack, Horatio explains, that is the main reason their watch guards against intruders and the main reason for their preparations for war (Lines 96-108).

Bernardo agrees that it is Young Fortinbras who motivates their preparations for war, noting that the "portentous figure" (The Ghost), did come armed and during their watch (Lines 108-111).

Horatio agrees that it is significant that the Ghost appears now, saying that it is "trouble to the mind's eye" (Line 112) and remembering that such portents did precede Caesar's death, Horatio believing that the Ghost must be a precursor of things to come in Denmark. Just as Horatio finishes this thought, he sees the Ghost reappear (Lines 112-126).

Horatio demands that the illusion stay and not leave as it did before, asking it to speak to him if it can and tell them the future "If thou art privy to thy country's fate," (if you know my country's future), which Horatio hopes their foreknowledge of may avoid, and finally why this spirit exists (Line 132).

Unfortunately a cock crows, the Ghost rapidly moving twice before vanishing once more without saying a word (Lines 139-142).

Bernardo, Horatio and Marcellus all agree the Ghost was about to speak before the cock crowed, Horatio advising that they "impart [tell] what we have seen to-night / Unto [to] young Hamlet;" since as Horatio says, "upon my life [on my life], / This spirit, dumb [silent] to us, will speak to him" (Lines 168-171).

With the morning approaching (daybreak), (Lines 165-168), the three men agree to speak to young Hamlet, Marcellus saying he knows where to find the "young Hamlet" (son of the late King Hamlet and nephew to the current King "most conveniently" to tell him what they have seen (Line 174).

Act I. Scene II. - A Room of State in the Castle.

King Claudius: "How is it that the clouds still hang on you?"

King Claudius who now rules Denmark, has taken King Hamlet's wife, Queen Gertrude as his wife. King Claudius fearing that Young Fortinbras of Norway may invade, has sent ambassadors to Norway to urge the King of Norway to restrain Young Fortinbras. Young Hamlet distrusts King Claudius. The King and Queen of Denmark (Claudius and Gertrude) do not understand why Hamlet still mourns his father's death over two months ago. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet explains that he does not like his mother marrying the next King of Denmark so quickly within a month of his father's death...

Within Elsinore Castle, the current King of Denmark, King Claudius (succeeding King Hamlet) Queen Gertrude (Hamlet's mother), Lord Chamberlain Polonius, his son Laertes, the courtiers Voltimand and Cornelius, Lords and Attendants enter.

The King (Claudius) expresses his grief for King Hamlet's (his predecessor's) death, saying that all in their kingdom grieve and mourn "our dear brother's death" (Line 1), adding that "discretion" (discretion) has "fought with nature" (the natural desire to mourn a loved one) in their suppressing their complete grief of King Hamlet's death (Line 4).

King Claudius, the newly appointed King of Denmark explains that he has taken Hamlet's previous wife, Gertrude as his wife and as "our queen," whilst adding that his court in "Your better wisdoms [judgment]," have "freely gone [allowed] / With this affair [marriage] along:" (Line 16) or have accepted this and now receive King Claudius' thanks.

It is important to note that this marriage would have drawn gasps from Shakespeare's audience since such a marriage would have been viewed as quite incestuous...

Claudius now outlines recent events, reminding all that Young Fortinbras even now in their time of grief has sought back the lands his father lost now that King Hamlet has died (Lines 17-20), Claudius explaining that "young Fortinbras," may be encouraged by the belief that Denmark is now in disarray following King Hamlet's death (Lines 17-28).

Claudius explains that he has written to the leader of Norway who is currently "impotent and bed-rid," (sick and weak / bedridden), (Line 28) to suppress his nephew Young Fortinbras from pushing this issue. Claudius has done this by dispatching Cornelius and Voltimand to Norway, the two men exiting after pledging their loyalty (Line 40).

We learn also of a parallel in that King Hamlet has been succeeded by his brother as has the late King Fortinbras since both their sons are referred to as nephews of the current rulers of Denmark and of Norway.

Turning his attention to Laertes, King Claudius asks Laertes to speak his mind to him (Lines 42-50).

Laertes now asks King Claudius for "Your leave and favour [permission] to return to France;" (Line 52) from where he left willingly and dutifully to witness King Claudius' coronation as the new King of Denmark.

After the King finds that Polonius, Laertes' father has given his permission, (Lines 57-61), Claudius gives his permission for Laertes to leave (Line 63).

Hamlet makes his first observation, suspiciously commenting in an aside (a speech sharing his private thoughts with the audience) that Claudius who referred to him as a "son,-" (Line 64) is "A little more than kin [family], and less than kind" (a little more than family and less than kind), (Line 65).

King Claudius now asks how Hamlet who has recently lost his father (King Hamlet) can still be sad...

King Claudius: "How is it that the clouds still hang on you?" (How is it that you are still gloomy as if dark clouds hang over you?), (Line 66).

Hamlet coyly replies that this is "Not so, my lord;" explaining that "I am too much i' [in] the sun" (it is not so my Lord. I have been in the sun too long), (Line 67).

Queen Gertrude, no doubt sensing the tension, tells her son to "cast thy [your] nighted colour off, / And let thine [your] eye look like a friend on Denmark" (drop your sad outlook and let your eye look like friend on Denmark), telling her son not to "Seek for thy noble father in the dust:" (look for your father in the dust) since Hamlet must realize "all that live must die, / Passing through nature to eternity" (Lines 68-73).

Hamlet agrees too easily, prompting his mother to ask why her husband's death "seems it so particular with thee?" (seems so important to him), (Line 74).

Hamlet now explodes, saying "Seems, madam!" adding "Nay, it is; I know not 'seems'" (Line 76), explaining that his color or mood are "but the trappings and the suits of woe (what happens when you are sad), (Line 86).

It seems only Hamlet appears to be mourning his father's death whilst those around him go on with life as if King Hamlet had never lived, let alone died. Even Queen Gertrude, his mother, feels this way; she married King Hamlet's replacement (King Claudius) almost immediately after King Hamlet, her husband, had died!

The King praises Hamlet as being "sweet and commendable (praiseworthy)" (Line 87) in his nature to mourn his father, but tells Hamlet that his father lost a father and this father, his father, explaining that loss is a part of life (Lines 88-92).

Claudius explains that to grieve for some time is acceptable but to "persever [carry on] / In obstinate [stubborn] condolement [grieving] is a course [action] / Of impious [unbecoming / undignified] stubbornness; " (Line 92) adding that such ongoing grieving is above all else, "unmanly grief:" (Line 93).

King Claudius develops this theme of grieving being "unmanly" for some time before telling Hamlet that his desire to go back to school in Wittenberg will not be granted since it is "most retrograde [the opposite] to our [King Claudius' and company's] desire;" (Lines 112-116).

The Queen (Gertrude, Hamlet's mother) asks Hamlet to stay as well, Hamlet agreeing by saying, "I shall in all my best obey you, madam" (Line 119).

The King is pleased that Hamlet will stay, saying "'tis a loving and a fair reply:" (it is a loving and fair reply) adding that "This gentle and unforc'd [unforced] accord [agreement] of Hamlet / Sits smiling to my heart;" (Line 120-124), the King announcing that a celebration, complete with drinking and "cannon" fire will celebrate and mark this change of heart in Hamlet.

The King and Queen now exit, leaving Hamlet alone to discuss his true feelings in his first soliloquy...

Alone, Hamlet expresses his real feelings about King Claudius and Queen Gertrude, his mother. Hamlet is not happy and wishes he could commit suicide since the "uses of this world" have become "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" to him but Hamlet quickly chides himself for such thoughts, they are like weeds in a garden and a sin (Lines 132-136).

Hamlet now explains to us that his father (King Hamlet), unlike the impression we get from King Claudius, is "But two months dead:" (has only recently died), (Line 139).

Hamlet now tells us that King Hamlet was "so loving to my mother / That he might not betweem the winds of heaven / Visit her face too roughly" and yet within a month, a mere month, his very own mother remarried with the current King of Denmark (Claudius), (Line 140).

So angry is Hamlet that he generalizes that all woman like his mother are weak when he says: "Frailty, thy [your] name is woman!" (Line 146).

Hamlet sarcastically and bitterly describes his mother as being "Like Niobe, all tears;" a woman who shed not a tear for her husband but only for her dead children, saying that even this woman would have mourned longer than Gertrude, his mother and the former wife to the now dead King Hamlet (Line 149).

Hamlet cannot believe this, exclaiming "O God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason, / Would have mourn'd longer,-" (O God! a beast that wanted or needed a reason, would have mourned longer) than his mother (Line 151), Hamlet still barely believing that she could so quickly have "married with mine uncle, [married my uncle, King Claudius]", (Line 151).

Hamlet cannot accept this, and still not believing his mother could do this, describes King Claudius as "My father's brother, but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules [regarded as a great man in this time]:" and yet "within a month, / Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears / Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, / She married" (and yet barely had her tears left her eyes when she remarried), (Line 153).

He remarks again on his mother's speedy marriage as being with "most wicked speed, to post / With such dexterity to incestuous sheets" (Line 157).

Hamlet is sure none of this can come to any good but decides to keep his opinions to himself.

Hamlet: "It is not nor it cannot come to good; / But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue!" (Line 158).

Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo arrive, telling Hamlet of the Ghost they saw.

Before this happens, we get a further insight into Hamlet's troubled nature when Horatio says he came to see King Hamlet's funeral (Line 176). Hamlet sarcastically replies that "I think it was to see my mother's wedding" since the two events happened so close to each other (Line 177).

Hamlet gives us more imagery of the speed with which one ceremony (the funeral) was replaced by the marriage when he remarks that "the funeral bak'd meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables" (the meat prepared for the funeral did coldly furnish the marriage tables which followed), (Line 180), a line sarcastically suggesting that Gertrude's remarriage following King Hamlet's death was so rapid, the food prepared for the funeral could have served as food for the subsequent marriage.

Hamlet now mentions that he believes he has seen his father in "my mind's eye," (Line 186), Horatio agreeing that King Hamlet "was a goodly king" (Line 186).

Hamlet agrees, and now Horatio describes what he, Bernardo and Marcellus have seen, describing The Ghost as "a figure like your father [the late King Hamlet], / Armed at points exactly," (Line 199).

Hamlet questions Horatio and Marcellus further and decides that if the Ghost is "my noble father's person," (Line 244) he will speak to it. Hamlet tells Horatio and company that he will meet them on the guard platform between eleven and twelve o'clock to see the Ghost.

Hamlet ends the scene, saying "My father's spirit in arms!" fearing "all is not well; / I doubt some foul play:" (Line 255).

Act I. Scene III. - A Room in Polonius' house.

Laertes: "This above all: to thine own self be true...."

Laertes, the son of Lord Chamberlain Polonius, gives his sister Ophelia some brotherly advice. He warns Ophelia not to fall in love with Young Hamlet; she will only be hurt. Polonius tells his daughter Ophelia not to return Hamlet's affections for her since he fears Hamlet is only using her...

Within a room in Polonius' house, Laertes (Polonius' son) is giving Ophelia, Polonius' daughter some brotherly advise.

Laertes warns his sister not to follow her heart with Hamlet too deeply, for as he says, "his will is not his own," (Hamlet does not control himself, King Claudius and Queen Gertrude influence him), owing to his position as Queen Gertrude's son (Line 16).

Laertes adds that Hamlet cannot as "unvalu'd persons do," (common people do) carve out a life for himself "for on his choice depends / The safety and the health of the whole state;" (Line 20).

"Then if he says he loves you," Laertes warns, she should remember that the Prince's wife (Hamlet's wife) will largely be dictated by the King (Claudius), (Line 24).

Laertes therefore reminds Ophelia to be wary and fearful of the loss of honor she could sustain if she should lose her heart and be used, warning her to protect her "chaste treasure" (her virginity), (Line 32).

Laertes now further describes the perils of following one's heart (Lines 24-52), telling her that the "best safety lies in fear:" (Line 43).

Ophelia says she will follow Laertes advise, warning Laertes not to show her the righteous way to live whilst not following his own advise. Laertes tells his sister to "fear me not" (Line 51) announcing that their father, Polonius arrives.


I shall th'effect of this good lesson keep, / As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, / Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, / Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, / Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine, / Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, / And recks not his own rede" (Lines 45-51)

Polonius now gives his daughter advise suggesting that Ophelia not speak her thoughts (Line 60), nor be vulgar but rather familiar instead (Line 61).

He tells his daughter to "Give every man thine [your] ear, but few thy [your] voice:", telling her to "reserve thy [your] judgment" (Line 69).

Polonius also advises that Ophelia would be wise to "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;" because "For loan oft loses both itself and friend, [in loans one often loses oneself and friend] / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry" Laertes warns (Line 76).

Famously, Polonius tells his daughter, "This above all [above all else]: to thine own self be true," (be true to yourself), (Line 78), adding that in his opinion as night follows day, Ophelia "canst not [cannot] then be false to any man" (Line 80).

Laertes must now leave (Line 85), telling his sister to "remember well / What I have said to you" before exiting (Line 85), Polonius wanting to know what this was (Line 88).

Alone with his daughter, Polonius demands to know the truth of any relationship between his daughter (Ophelia) and Prince Hamlet.

Polonius explains that he knows Hamlet has very recently "Given private time to you;" and Ophelia the same (Line 92), asking to know what is going on so he can be sure of his daughter's honor (Lines 88-99).

Ophelia replies that Hamlet has "made many tenders / Of his affection to me" (has spoken sweet words of love to me), (Line 100).

Polonius is not impressed saying "Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl [innocent naive girl]," asking if his daughter believes Hamlet's "tenders," (words), (Line 101).

Ophelia replies she is not sure, but her father is. He is certain Hamlet merely wishes to "use" his daughter and in doing so Ophelia will "tender me a fool" (make a fool of Polonius), by being used (Line 108).

Ophelia defends Hamlet saying he has "importun'd me with love / In honourable fashion" (Line 111) but Polonius does not believe a word of it, saying Hamlet's "holy vows of heaven" (Line 113) are merely like "springes to catch woodcocks", a lie to catch or seduce his daughter...

Polonius now lays down the law, telling his daughter to keep her distance, ordering her to "be somewhat scanter [less available] of your maiden presence;" (Line 120), nor to believe Hamlet's vows, "for they are brokers [lies]," finally telling Ophelia that he does not want Ophelia to "give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet" since Polonius obviously fears his daughter being made a fool and by the culture of the time, himself being made one as well (Lines 120-134).

Ophelia will not disobey her father saying, "I shall obey, my lord" (Line 136).

Act I. Scene IV. - The Platform.

Hamlet meets the Ghost of his father and follows it to learn more...

Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus are all on the platform before Elsinore Castle, waiting for the apparition (The Ghost) of King Hamlet to appear once again.

We learn from their conversation that it is just past midnight and that "The air bites shrewdly"; it is a very cold night (Line 1).

A flourish of trumpets is heard along with ordnance (canon fire) being shot off, Hamlet explaining that this noise signals the King's revels or celebrations.

Hamlet describes King Claudius' behavior quite negatively, remarking at how he drinks too much, saying that it would be more honorable to ignore the custom of Danish kings drinking than to maintain such lewd behaviour out of tradition alone.

Hamlet says this himself with the line, "though I am native here [born in Denmark] / And to the manner born,-it is a custom / More honour'd [honored] in the breach [by not performing it] than the observance [performing the custom]" (Line 16).

Hamlet also describes what he imagines to be the less than dignified revels (celebrations) King Claudius and company are enjoying:

"The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse, / Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels; / And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down, / The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out / The triumph of his pledge" (The King wakes up and drinks his toasts in celebration, sings badly and drunkenly dances around, heavily drinking his alcohol, the trumpets finally sounding out the triumph of his pledge in a foolish not triumphant manner), (Lines 8-11).

Hamlet is not impressed with this behavior, arguing that the dancing and drinking "takes / From our achievements," (takes something away from our achievements), giving the Danish a bad name abroad (Line 20).

He likens this to impressive men's reputations, which are reduced by them having one vice (Lines 23- 36).

At this point the Ghost reappears, Horatio telling Hamlet, "Look, my lord, it comes" (Line 38).

Hamlet decides that if the Ghost will speak to him, he will address the Ghost as "Hamlet, / King, father; royal Dane," and excitedly demands answers (Line 45).

Hamlet wanting to know why his father has returned, asks "Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?" (Line 58).

The Ghost says nothing, beckoning Hamlet to follow him to as Marcellus says "a more removed [private] ground:", Marcellus telling Hamlet not to follow the Ghost.

Hamlet ignores Marcellus, deciding that since "It [The Ghost] will not speak; then, will I [I will] follow it" (Line 62).

Horatio also tells Hamlet not to follow the Ghost since it may tempt him towards a flood or seek to kill him by leading Hamlet to a cliff (Lines 69-76).

Hamlet however despite the advise of Marcellus (Line 79) and Horatio (Line 81), follows the Ghost since "My fate cries out, / And makes each petty artery in this body / As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve" (my fate cries out and makes each petty artery in my body as strong as that of a Nemean lion's nerve, a powerful Lion encountered by Hercules), (Line 83).

With the Ghost beckoning, Hamlet asks the men to "Unhand me," (let me go) and Hamlet follows the Ghost, Marcellus and Horatio deciding to follow him (Line 84-86).

Marcellus now remarks that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" but Horatio is more trusting, saying "Heaven will direct it" (Heaven will take care of things), (Lines 90- 91).

Act I. Scene V. - Another Part of the Platform.

King Hamlet's Ghost: "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder."

Hamlet learns from his father's Ghost that he was poisoned by King Claudius, the current ruler of Denmark. The Ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death but not to punish Queen Gertrude for remarrying; it is not Hamlet's place to do so and her conscience and heaven will judge her... Hamlet swears Horatio and Marcellus to silence over Hamlet meeting the Ghost.

The Ghost has now led Hamlet away from Horatio and Hamlet impatiently tells the Ghost, "speak; / I'll go no further" (Line 1).

The Ghost now speaks, saying, "Mark me", Hamlet replying that he will (Line 2).

The Ghost explains that time is short for him (Line 3) and that soon he must render or surrender himself to "sulphurous and tormenting flames" since he has been condemned to walk Denmark by night and burn in the flames of Purgatory by day (Line 3).

Nonetheless, the Ghost tells Hamlet to "Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing / To what I shall unfold" (pity me not Hamlet but listen carefully to what I am about to tell you), (Line 5).

Hamlet now tells the Ghost to "Speak; I am bound to hear" (Line 6).

The Ghost agrees, saying "So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear" (so you are to revenge when you hear what I have to say), (Line 7).

The Ghost now announces that "I am thy [your] father's spirit;" (Line 9) explaining that he is "Doom'd [doomed] for a certain term [time] to walk the night, / And for the day confin'd [confined] to fast in fires, / Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature [life] / Are burnt and purg'd away" (Lines 9-13).

The Ghost explains that because he is forbidden, he cannot fully describe the "secrets of my prison-house," (Line 13).

The Ghost of King Claudius tells Hamlet to "List, list, O list! [Listen] If thou [you] didst [did] ever thy [your] dear father love-" (Line 23).

Hamlet, listening, hears the Ghost tell Hamlet to,

"Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder" (Line 25).

The Ghost goes on to describe his murder as "Murder most foul, as in the best it is; / But this most foul, strange and unnatural" (Line 28).

Hamlet pledges to make his revenge if told more (Line 29), the Ghost explaining that as he slept in his orchard, "A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark" was abused, Hamlet explaining that this "serpent" now wears the crown of the man (King Hamlet) he had killed (Lines 33-39).

Hamlet immediately realizes that this is his uncle, now King Claudius, and the Ghost explains that as he was "Sleeping within mine orchard," (Line 60) in the afternoon as he always did, King Claudius referred to as "thy [your] uncle" secured a poison, pouring it into his ears (Line 64) killing him (Lines 64-73).

The Ghost explains that "Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand, / Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd;" (thus as I was sleeping, by my brother's hand was I murdered and deprived of my life, my crown and my wife, Queen Gertrude), (Line 74).

The Ghost tells Hamlet to do something about this, telling Hamlet, "Let not the royal bed of Denmark be / A couch for luxury and damned incest" (let not the royal rule of Denmark remain a place of luxury and incest), (Line 84).

The Ghost also tells Hamlet to "Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught;" (do not let your mind be tainted into seeking revenge against your mother), advising Hamlet instead to leave her punishment to heaven and her own conscience (Line 84-89).

Running out of time (Lines 89-91), the Ghost tells Hamlet "Hamlet, remember me" before exiting (Line 91).

Hamlet resolves to remember the Ghost and to avenge his father's death as asked, saying that he put aside all else but this "commandment" (to avenge his father's death) which he says he will devote his entire "brain," or time to (Lines 92-112).

Hamlet also scorns his mother, calling her "O most pernicious woman!" (Line 105), also scorning King Claudius' behaviour.

Horatio and Marcellus now join Hamlet who continuously refuses to answer their questions as to what has happened (Lines 116-132).

Horatio also notes that Hamlet speaks now in "wild and whirling words," (Line 133).

Hamlet apologizes for this and asks his friends Marcellus and Horatio to not tell anyone "what you have seen to-night" (Line 144), Hamlet wanting them too swear this upon his sword, taking an oath not to tell (Lines 144-148).

Marcellus and Horatio will not agree to this until the Ghost from beneath the platform says "Swear" (Line 149), Horatio quickly saying "Propose the oath, my lord" (Line 152).

Telling Marcellus and Horatio to swear on his sword not to tell anyone what they have seen, Hamlet again is helped by the Ghost saying "Swear" (Line 155), the Ghost repeating this again (Line 161).

Hamlet now decides that should he appear mad, the two men should not give any reason explaining his behaviour (Lines 164-179).

Upon hearing the Ghost say "Swear" again (Line 181), Marcellus and Horatio swear to keep what they have seen a secret (Line 180).

Thanking his friends, Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus depart, Hamlet reminding the men not to say a word and lamenting that his fate now is to avenge his father's death (Lines 181-188).

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