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A tragedy by William Shakespeare. The king of Denmark has been murdered by his brother, Claudius, who then becomes king and marries the dead king's widow. The ghost of the dead king visits his son, Prince Hamlet, and urges him to avenge the murder. In the course of the play, Hamlet, a scholar, slowly convinces himself that he must murder Claudius. The play ends with a duel between Hamlet and the courtier Laertes, and the death by poison of all the principal characters.
Note: The character Hamlet has come to symbolize a person whose thoughtful nature is an obstacle to quick and decisive action.
Note: Hamlet, Shakespeare's longest play, contains several soliloquies — speeches in which Hamlet, alone, speaks his thoughts. Many lines from the play are very familiar, such as “Alas, poor Yorick!”; “Frailty, thy name is woman!”; “Get thee to a nunnery”; “The lady doth protest too much”; “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio”; “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”; “There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow”; “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”; and “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”