Translator: Jongcheol Choi
About this book
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William Shakespeare and one of his most well-known and oft-quoted plays.
The play concerns the dilemma of Prince Hamlet, whose father, the erstwhile King of Denmark, was murdered while Hamlet was away at university. The King's brother Claudius had himself proclaimed king, and cemented his claim to the throne by marrying Hamlet's mother Gertrude, the widowed Queen.
Hamlet expresses his anger at the accession of his uncle Claudius and particularly with his mother's hasty remarriage. Hamlet soon encounters the ghost of his dead father, who informs him that he was murdered by Claudius, and commands Hamlet to avenge him. Hamlet then decides to put on an "antic disposition" (act insane) in order to kill Claudius, but Hamlet is unsure whether the ghost he has seen is truly his father, and suspects that it might be the devil taking his father appearance in order to cause havok. He therefore sets out to test the king's conscience through feigning insanity, and by enlisting a traveling company to stage a play he has written re-enacting the circumstances of the murder.
The king's unsympathetic reaction to the performance convinces Hamlet of his guilt. Shortly afterwards, Claudius privately expresses his disgust at what he has done, and offers up a prayer of repentance. Hamlet discovers him at prayer, and prepares to kill him, but then stops, reasoning that he does not want his revenge to have the result of sending the repentant Claudius to heaven. In a double irony, after Hamlet slips away, Claudius concludes that he is unable to repent in his current state of mind; thus, if Hamlet had not attempted to arrogate to himself the destiny of Claudius's soul, rather than just his life, he would have gotten the ultimate justice he sought.
Hamlet confronts his mother about the murder of his father and her sexual relations with her new husband, and during their conversation, he stabs Polonius, the king's councillor, who has been hiding behind a tapestry, thinking it may have been the King. The king, who has realised that Hamlet knows about the murder he committed, sends Hamlet to England with a message to the English ordering his death. On the way to England, Hamlet's ship is overcome by pirates, and Hamlet manages to return to Denmark. In the mean time, Ophelia, who was in love with Hamlet, is driven mad by her father Polonius's death and Hamlet's regection of her, she possibly drowns herself.
Laertes, son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia, is determined to kill Hamlet in revenge for the havoc that has been wreaked on his family. He and Claudius engineer a scheme to kill Hamlet while making the death look like an accident. To this end, Claudius instructs Laertes to challenge Hamlet to a fencing match. Unknown to Hamlet, Laertes will be fighting with a sharpened and poisoned foil, instead of the customary blunted blade. In addition, Claudius prepares some poisoned wine for Hamlet to drink as a toast, in the event that Laertes is unable to hit him.
After Hamlet wins the first two rounds of the match, Gertrude inadvertently drinks the poisoned wine. Hamlet is pricked with the sword and fatally poisoned, but in the ensuing brawl, he swaps blades with Laertes, and deals a deep wound to Laertes with the poisoned sword. Gertrude dies from the poison, and in his dying breaths, Laertes confesses the whole plot to Hamlet. Enraged, Hamlet kills Claudius with the poisoned weapon, finally avenging his father's death.
Horatio, horrified at the turn of events, seizes the poisoned wine and proposes to join his friend in death, but Hamlet wrestles the cup away from him and orders him to tell the true story of the royal family's troubles to the world at large, thus restoring Hamlet's good name. Hamlet also recommends that the Norwegian prince, Fortinbras, be chosen as the rightful successor to the Danish throne. Hamlet dies, and Horatio mourns his passing:
This book is written in Korean only.
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