Hamlet Characters

Hamlet Son of murdered Danish King (who was also named Hamlet) and nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet suffers great mental anguish over the death of his father, the marriage of his mother to the suspected murderer (Claudius), and the clash between his moral sense and his desire for revenge against his father’s murderer. To ensnare the killer, Hamlet pretends madness. Some Shakespeare interpreters contend that he really does suffer a mental breakdown. Hamlet is highly intelligent and well liked by the citizens, although at times he can be petty and cruel.
Claudius The new king of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle. He becomes king after Hamlet’s father, the previous king, is found dead in his orchard. Hamlet suspects that Claudius murdered him
Gertrude Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, and widow of the murdered king. Her marriage to Claudius within two moths after the late king’s funeral deeply disturbs Hamlet
Ghost of Hamlet’s father old king Hamlet
Polonius Bootlicking, talkative Chamberlain of King Claudius. Ophelia and Laertes’s father
Ophelia Daughter of Polonius. She loves Hamlet, but his pretended madness-during which he rejects her-eventually triggers a pathological reaction in her
Horatio Hamlet’s best friend. Horatio never wavers in his loyalty to Hamlet, and he is the only one Hamlet trusts throughout the play
Laertes Son on Polonius, brother of Ophelia, college student in France. Circumstances make him an enemy of Hamlet
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern courtiers and friends of Hamlet who attended school with him. They turned against him to act as spies for King Claudius
Fortinbras Prince of Norway, who is on the march with an army. In the battlefield combat (referred to in the play but not taking place during the play), old king Hamlet slew the father of Fortinbras and annexed Norwegian territory. Fortinbras seeks revenge
Marcellus, Bernardo, Francisco officers who are the first to see the ghost of Hamlet’s father
Voltimand, Cornelius, Osric Courtiers who bear messages for the King

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