Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare): The Ultimate Guide to the Play and the Audio Book
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If you are looking for a classic play that will captivate your imagination, challenge your intellect, and touch your emotions, you should read Hamlet by William Shakespeare. And if you are looking for a high-quality audio version of this masterpiece, you should download Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare), a full-cast dramatization that brings the play to life with superb actors, original music, and sound effects. In this article, I will tell you what Hamlet is about, what makes it so special, and why you should get Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare) today.
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What is Hamlet?
Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, probably between 1599 and 1602. It is one of his most famous and influential works, and has been adapted into many different media, such as films, operas, ballets, comics, and video games. The play tells the story of Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who is haunted by the ghost of his father, who reveals that he was murdered by his own brother, Claudius, who has usurped the throne and married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. Hamlet vows to avenge his father's death, but his plan is complicated by his own doubts, his feigned madness, his love for Ophelia, and the schemes of other characters.
What is Arkangel Shakespeare?
Arkangel Shakespeare is a series of audio books that present all 38 plays by William Shakespeare in unabridged and fully dramatized versions. The series was produced by BBC Radio between 1997 and 2005, and features some of the most renowned British actors of our time, such as David Tennant, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Hugh Bonneville, Alan Rickman, and many more. The series also includes original music composed by Dominique Le Gendre, as well as sound effects that create a realistic and immersive atmosphere. Arkangel Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the best audio adaptations of Shakespeare's plays ever made.
Why should you read Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare)?
You should read Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare) because it is a unique and rewarding experience that will enrich your understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's genius. By listening to the play, you will be able to enjoy the beauty and power of Shakespeare's language, the subtlety and complexity of his characters, the depth and diversity of his themes, and the drama and suspense of his plot. You will also be able to hear the voices and emotions of the actors, who deliver outstanding performances that convey the nuances and emotions of each scene. You will feel as if you are watching the play live on stage, or even better, as if you are part of it. Hamlet (Arkangel Shakespeare) is a must-have for any lover of literature, drama, or Shakespeare.
The plot of Hamlet
Hamlet is a complex and intricate play that has many twists and turns, but here is a brief summary of the main events:
Act 1: The ghost of King Hamlet
The play begins with a scene on the battlements of Elsinore Castle, where two guards, Bernardo and Marcellus, and Horatio, a friend of Hamlet, witness the appearance of a ghost that resembles the late King Hamlet. They decide to tell Hamlet about it, hoping that he can communicate with the spirit. Meanwhile, Claudius, the new king, holds a court session, where he announces his marriage to Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, and sends two ambassadors to Norway to deal with a threat from Fortinbras, the nephew of the late King of Norway. He also tries to dissuade Hamlet from returning to Wittenberg, where he studies, and asks him to stay in Denmark as his heir. Hamlet agrees reluctantly, but reveals his disgust and sorrow for his father's death and his mother's hasty remarriage in a soliloquy. He then meets Horatio, who tells him about the ghost. Hamlet decides to join them on the watch that night.
That night, the ghost appears again, and beckons Hamlet to follow him. Hamlet does so, despite the warnings of Horatio and Marcellus. The ghost reveals that he is indeed Hamlet's father, and that he was murdered by Claudius, who poured poison into his ear while he was sleeping in his orchard. He also says that Claudius seduced Gertrude before killing him, and that he is now suffering in purgatory for his sins. He urges Hamlet to avenge his death, but to spare Gertrude and leave her to God's judgment. He then disappears as the dawn breaks. Hamlet swears to remember and obey his father's command, and makes Horatio and Marcellus swear not to reveal what they have seen or heard.
Act 2: Hamlet's madness and Polonius's death
In this act, we see how Hamlet's plan to feign madness affects his relationships with other characters. He starts to act erratically and cryptically, confusing and alarming his friends and foes alike. He also rejects Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius, the king's chief counselor, whom he used to love. He tells her to go to a nunnery and accuses her of being false and dishonest. Ophelia is heartbroken and reports this encounter to her father, who believes that Hamlet is mad with love for her. Polonius then decides to inform Claudius of this theory, hoping to gain his favor.
Claudius is already suspicious of Hamlet's behavior, and sends two of Hamlet's school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on him and find out the cause of his madness. They fail to do so, as Hamlet sees through their deception and mocks them. He also expresses his contempt for Claudius in a soliloquy, where he compares him unfavorably to his father. He then learns from a group of traveling actors that they have come to perform a play at the court. He welcomes them warmly and asks them to perform The Murder of Gonzago, a play that resembles the murder of his father by Claudius. He also adds some lines of his own to make it more explicit. He hopes that by watching the play, he can catch Claudius's conscience and confirm his guilt.
The next day, Claudius agrees to watch the play with Gertrude, Hamlet, Ophelia, Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other courtiers. Hamlet sits next to Ophelia and makes some rude remarks to her and his mother. He also comments on the play, shows how a nephew kills his uncle, the king, and marries his widow, the queen. When the murder scene is enacted, Claudius rises in horror and leaves the room, followed by the others. Hamlet and Horatio are convinced that this is a clear sign of his guilt. Hamlet then follows Claudius to his chamber, where he finds him kneeling and praying. He decides to kill him, but hesitates when he thinks that killing him while he is praying might send him to heaven instead of hell. He resolves to wait for a better opportunity, when Claudius is in a state of sin. Meanwhile, Gertrude summons Hamlet to her chamber, where Polonius hides behind a tapestry to eavesdrop on their conversation. Hamlet confronts his mother with her infidelity and incest, and accuses her of being an accomplice in his father's murder. Gertrude is shocked and frightened by Hamlet's words and actions, and cries for help. Polonius echoes her cry, and Hamlet, thinking that it is Claudius, stabs him through the tapestry, killing him. He then drags his body away and continues to berate his mother. He also sees the ghost of his father again, who reminds him of his duty to avenge him. Gertrude cannot see the ghost and thinks that Hamlet is mad. Hamlet tries to make her see the truth and repent of her sins. He also warns her not to sleep with Claudius again and not to reveal that he is only pretending to be mad.
Act 3: The play within a play and the closet scene
This act shows how Hamlet's actions have serious consequences for himself and others. Claudius is alarmed by Hamlet's behavior and the death of Polonius, and decides to send him to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who carry a secret letter that orders Hamlet's execution. He also plans to make peace with Fortinbras, who has invaded Denmark with an army. He hopes that these measures will secure his throne and his life. Ophelia is devastated by Hamlet's rejection and her father's death, and loses her sanity. She sings songs of love and death, and gives flowers to Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and others. Laertes is Ophelia's brother, who has returned from France after hearing of his father's murder. He blames Claudius for his father's death and his sister's madness, and vows to revenge them both. Claudius manages to calm him down and convinces him that Hamlet is the real culprit. He also plots with him to kill Hamlet in a duel, where Laertes will use a poisoned sword. He also prepares a poisoned cup of wine as a backup plan. Hamlet escapes from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on his way to England by switching the letter they carry with another one that orders their deaths instead. He then returns to Denmark with the help of some pirates who attack his ship. On his way back, he encounters a gravedigger who is digging a grave for Ophelia, who has drowned herself in a river. He does not know that it is her grave until he sees her funeral procession, led by Laertes. He reveals himself and declares his love for Ophelia, and fights with Laertes over her grave. They are separated by Claudius and Gertrude, who invite Hamlet to the duel.
Act 4: Ophelia's madness and death and Laertes's revenge
This act shows how the tragedy reaches its climax and how all the main characters meet their doom. The duel between Hamlet and Laertes begins as a friendly contest, but soon turns deadly. Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poisoned sword, but in the scuffle they exchange weapons and Hamlet wounds Laertes with the same sword. Gertrude drinks from the poisoned cup intended for Hamlet, and dies after telling him that she has been poisoned. Laertes confesses his treachery before he dies, and implicates Claudius as well. Hamlet then stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink from the poisoned cup as well. He dies after asking Horatio to tell his story to the world.
Horatio wants to kill himself out of loyalty to Hamlet, but Hamlet stops him and asks him to live on and clear his name. He also names Fortinbras, who has arrived at the castle with his army, as his successor. He then dies in Horatio's arms, saying "the rest is silence". Fortinbras enters the scene and sees the carnage. He orders that Hamlet be given a soldier's funeral, and says that he will honor him as a fallen hero.
The themes of Hamlet
Hamlet is a play that explores many universal and timeless themes, such as:
Revenge and justice
The main theme of the play is revenge, and how it affects the characters and their actions. Hamlet is driven by his desire to avenge his father's murder, but he also struggles with the moral and practical implications of his quest. He questions the validity of the ghost's message, the morality of killing Claudius, and the consequences of his revenge for himself and others. He also delays his action, partly because of his indecision and doubt, and partly because of external obstacles and circumstances. His delay leads to more deaths and tragedies, as well as his own downfall.
The play also raises the issue of justice, and how it is achieved or denied in a corrupt and unjust world. Claudius is the epitome of injustice, as he commits the ultimate crime of killing his brother and stealing his throne and wife. He also tries to cover up his guilt and maintain his power by manipulating and deceiving others. He escapes human justice for most of the play, but he cannot escape divine justice or his own conscience. He is tormented by his guilt and fear, and eventually pays for his sins with his life.
Madness and sanity
Another theme of the play is madness, and how it is defined and perceived by different characters. Hamlet pretends to be mad as part of his plan to expose Claudius, but he also shows signs of real madness, such as depression, melancholy, suicidal thoughts, and erratic behavior. He also wonders if he is really mad or not, and if madness is a curse or a blessing. He says that "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so", and that "there is method in [his] madness".
The play also shows how madness can be caused by external factors, such as grief, love, betrayal, or oppression. Ophelia is an example of this, as she goes mad after losing her father and her lover. She expresses her feelings through songs, flowers, and gestures, but she is misunderstood and ignored by most characters. She also becomes a symbol of innocence and purity that is corrupted and destroyed by a cruel world.
Appearance and reality
A third theme of the play is appearance versus reality, and how it creates confusion and deception among the characters. The play is full of contrasts between what seems to be and what really is, such as the ghost that appears to be Hamlet's father but may be a devil in disguise, the play within a play that reveals the truth behind a fiction, the words and actions that hide or reveal one's true intentions or feelings, etc.
The play also shows how appearance can be used as a tool or a weapon to manipulate or deceive others. Claudius is the master of this, as he uses his charm, rhetoric, and diplomacy to mask his evil nature and gain the trust and loyalty of others. He also uses spies, such as Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Polonius, to monitor Hamlet's movements and thoughts. He also tries to use Laertes, Ophelia, and Gertrude, to achieve his goals. Hamlet also uses appearance to his advantage, by acting mad to confuse and disorient his enemies. He also uses words, such as puns, riddles, and insults, to express his true feelings or mock others.
Death and mortality
A final theme of the play is death, and how it affects the characters and their views on life. The play begins with a death (King Hamlet's) and ends with many deaths (Hamlet's, Claudius's, Gertrude's, Laertes's, etc.). The play also shows how death can be sudden, violent, tragic, or inevitable. It also shows how death can be natural or unnatural, honorable or dishonorable, deserved or undeserved.
ation devoutly to be wished" or "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns". He also reflects on the futility and absurdity of life, and the inevitability and equality of death. He says that "a man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm", and that "the rest is silence". He also finds some solace and hope in his friendship with Horatio, his love for Ophelia, and his admiration for Fortinbras.
The characters of Hamlet
Hamlet is a play that features some of the most memorable and complex characters in literature, such as:
Hamlet: the tragic hero
Hamlet is the protagonist and the hero of the play, but he is also a tragic hero, who has a fatal flaw that leads to his downfall. He is a prince who has a noble and virtuous nature, a brilliant and creative mind, a strong sense of justice and honor, and a deep love for his father and Ophelia. He is also a loyal friend to Horatio, a witty and eloquent speaker, and a skilled swordsman. However, he also has a flaw that prevents him from fulfilling his potential and his destiny. He is indecisive, doubtful, melancholic, and prone to procrastination. He is unable to act on his father's command to kill Claudius, partly because he is not sure if the ghost is telling the truth, partly because he is afraid of the consequences of his action, and partly because he is too thoughtful and philosophical to be a man of action. He also causes more harm than good by his delay, as he kills Polonius by mistake, drives Ophelia to madness and death, alienates his mother and Laertes, and exposes himself to Claudius's plots. He finally achieves his revenge, but only at the cost of his own life and the lives of many others.
Claudius: the villainous usurper
Claudius is the antagonist and the villain of the play, but he is also a complex and human character. He is a king who has a cunning and ambitious nature, a smooth and persuasive speech, a shrewd and ruthless mind, and a strong sense of self-preservation. He is also a lover who has a genuine affection for Gertrude, a politician who has some skills in managing domestic and foreign affairs, and a sinner who has some remorse for his crimes. However, he also has a flaw that makes him evil and despicable. He is a murderer who kills his own brother to usurp his throne and marry his wife. He is also an adulterer who seduces Gertrude before killing her husband. He is also a liar who covers up his guilt and deceives everyone around him. He also tries to kill Hamlet by various means, such as sending him to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or arranging a duel with Laertes. He also poisons Gertrude by accident. He finally gets his punishment, but only after he has caused much suffering and destruction.
Gertrude: the conflicted queen
Gertrude is Hamlet's mother and Claudius's wife, but she is also a conflicted and ambiguous character. She is a queen who has a graceful and dignified presence, a kind and gentle heart, a loyal and devoted love for Claudius, and a maternal and protective instinct for Hamlet. She is also a woman who has some strength and courage in facing danger or adversity. However, she also has a flaw that makes her weak and guilty. She is an unfaithful wife who marries Claudius soon after her husband's death. She is also an ignorant mother who does not know or care about Claudius's crime or Hamlet's grief. She is also an unwitting accomplice who helps Claudius to maintain his power and to plot against Hamlet. She also drinks from the poisoned cup intended for Hamlet, and dies after telling him that she has been poisoned. She finally sees the truth, but only when it is too late.
Ophelia: the innocent victim
Ophelia is Polonius's daughter and Hamlet's lover, but she is also an innocent and tragic victim. She is a lady who has a beautiful and pure appearance, a sweet and gentle personality, a faithful and obedient love for Hamlet, and a respectful and dutiful attitude towards her father and brother. She is also a singer who has a melodious and expressive voice, and a flower-giver who has a symbolic and poetic sense of nature. However, she also has a flaw that makes her vulnerable and helpless. She is a dependent woman who relies on others to make decisions for her. She is also a passive woman who does not stand up for herself or her feelings. She is also a manipulated woman who is used by others to serve their purposes. She is rejected by Hamlet, who tells her to go to a nunnery and accuses her of being false and dishonest. She is also spied on by Polonius, who believes that she is the cause of Hamlet's madness. She is also abandoned by Laertes, who leaves her alone to deal with her troubles. She loses her father, her lover, and her sanity, and drowns herself in a river. She dies without any justice or recognition.
Polonius: the meddling fool
Polonius is Claudius's chief counselor and Ophelia's and Laertes's father, but he is also a meddling and foolish character. He is a statesman who has some experience and wisdom in political and diplomatic matters, such as dealing with Norway or France. He is also a father who has some love and care for his children, such as giving them advice or warning them of danger. However, he also has a flaw that makes him ridiculous and annoying. He is a busybody who interferes in other people's affairs,