Hamlet character and plot summary

Today there is another one of Shakespeare´s most famous play, Hamlet.

There have been more than fifty film versions of Hamlet since 1900. A few of the most famous are:

Hamlet (1948)
This version was directed by and starred the famous English actor, Sir Laurence Olivier and was the first British film to win an Oscar. Olivier adapted the play and reduced its length to about two hours.

Hamlet (1990)
Director Franco Zeffirelli made the decision to cast Mel Gibson, better known for his roles in action films like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, as Hamlet. Again, the film adapted the play to make it an acceptable length for cinema.

Hamlet (1996)
Actor/director Kenneth Branagh assembled an all-star cast for thisunabridged version of the play. The film is often mentioned as one of the best Shakespeare film versions ever made.

As well as filmed versions of the play, there have been several films based on the story of Hamlet.

The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru) (1960)
Famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa directed this story of a young man joining a powerful company to try to expose the men responsible for the death of his father.

The Lion King (1994)
The king is murdered by his brother. The king’s ghost tells his son to challenge the wicked uncle. Does this sound familiar? Of course this Disney version does not have Hamlet’s tragic ending.

Watch the video

Here is a link to watch the video with subtitles about the story



Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Hamlet discovers that his father, the old King of Denmark, was murdered by his uncle, Claudius. Hamlet plans to kill Claudius in revenge, which he does at the end of the play. But Hamlet is wounded in the fight, and dies as well.

Claudius murders his brother, the old king of Denmark, by putting poison in his ear. Claudius marries his dead brother’s wife, the queen. Claudius becomes king of Denmark himself. But Hamlet, Claudius’s nephew, finds out what he has done, and kills him.

Hamlet’s mother
Hamlet’s mother, the queen of Denmark, marries her brother-in-law, Claudius. She does not realise that Claudius murdered her husband. She dies by drinking poisoned wine.

Ophelia is Hamlet’s girlfriend. But Hamlet rejects her, and she kills herself.

Polonius is King Claudius’s adviser, and is asked to spy on Hamlet. Hamlet kills him by accident.

Laertes is Ophelia’s brother. He blames Hamlet for Ophelia’s suicide. At the end of the play, he fights and kills Hamlet. But he is wounded in the fight, and also dies.

© British Council

I hope you have enjoyed learning about it.

Thank you.

Shakespeare invented new words

Shakespeare 3

Nobody knows exactly how many words in the English we use everyday were invented by Shakespeare.

Some people have claimed that Shakespeare invented many thousands of words but a more generally accepted figure is 1,700.

As this National Geographic article explains, Shakespeare may have been the first person to use some words in writing or to popularise their use. Whether he ‘invented’ the words or not, he has certainly had a profound effect on English vocabulary.

Here are some of the words and phrases usually attributed to Shakespeare..

  • bedroom
  • blanket
  • fashionable
  • freezing
  • gossip
  • hostile
  • ladybird
  • lonely
  • manager
  • obscene
  • priceless
  • puke
  • undress
  • unreal
  • watchdog
  • pomp and circumstance
  • the be-all and end-all
  • flesh and blood

An internet search for ‘words invented by Shakespeare’ will bring up many thousands of results. Do a search and see which other words you can find to add to the list.

Watch this video: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/explore-english-shakespeare/1/steps/59163?utm_campaign=Share+Links&utm_medium=futurelearn-open_step&utm_source=google-plus

© British Council