Ever wanted to know what makes the characters in ''Hamlet'' tick? Well, here you go, but also make sure to check out tropes applying to the plot, setting, and writing of the tragedy [[Theatre/{{Hamlet}} here]].

Oh, and since the play is OlderThanSteam, we're not hiding any spoilers. Watch a performance or read the thing.

!!Prince Hamlet
The prince of Denmark, nephew of the reigning king . . . and son of the reigning king, since [[RoyalWe they]] married Hamlet's mother only two months after his blood father's death. That incestuous mess would be hard enough for Ham, but before he can even decide whether to be or not, the ghost of his dad pops up and convinces him that Uncle-Dad killed Hamlet's real father to take the throne. Filled with rage and urgency, Hamlet must [[{{Revenge}} kill the king]]. . . . But should he? Can he? What would it mean if he did? Is this task worth it?\\
Is anything in life really worth it?

Hamlet struggles with these issues indecisively for five acts, soliloquizing, soliciting players, practicing his fencing technique [[SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat (apparently)]], insulting his elders, talking to gravediggers, smelling skulls, [[InfoDrop boarding pirate vessels]], and getting into fights with everyone not named Horatio.
* AccentuateTheNegative: Over and over and ''over'' again.
-->'''Hamlet:''' What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Whole plays and college courses have been written based on Hamlet's apparent bipolar disorder--HairTriggerTemper and over-talkativeness during his manic episodes, anguished soliloquies during his depressed ones.
* AntiHero: He acts rudely to many who (may) mean him no harm, mistakenly kills a relatively innocent old man, and has Guildenstern and Rosencrantz--his college buddies!--sent to their deaths (they ''were'' spying for Claudius, so this has some justification, [[TreacheryIsASpecialKindOfEvil to varying degrees]]).
* AudienceMonologue: Soliloquy is Hamlet's only means of expressing his overwhelming grief and confusion.
* BastardAngst: Given that Claudius and Gertrude's affair [[RemarriedToTheMistress could well have been going on long before King Hamlet's death]] and that King Hamlet seems to have spent much of his time as king away at war, there is some real question as to the identity of Hamlet's father. His first line reveals his awareness of this fact.
-->'''Hamlet:''' A little more than kin, and less than kind.
* BeneathTheMask: We are shown more of Hamlet's true personality than anyone else, even Horatio, through his [[AudienceMonologue soliloquies]]. But one gets the impression that even we [[HiddenDepths never see the full extent of it]].
* BrokenBird: We don't meet Hamlet until after he has been broken, but according to his friends he used to be a generous, loving, and level-headed man. His familial upheaval has broken his ability to trust or show compassion.
* ByronicHero: Angsty, thoughtful, cynical, lonely, weary of the world, arrogant, loved by many yet alienated from his own family, overly dramatic and emotional in some interpretations, filled with self-hatred . . . check.
* TheCynic:
-->'''Hamlet:''' How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable\\
Seem to me all the uses of this world!\\
Fie on ít, ah fie! íTis an unweeded garden\\
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature\\
Possess it merely.
:: :It is unclear whether this has always been his worldview or whether it is a side effect of depression [[CynicismCatalyst brought on by his father's death and mother's remarriage]].
* CynicismCatalyst: Hamlet's was his father's death and mother's "o'erhasty marriage".
* DareToBeBadass: He attempts to talk himself into this in nearly every one of his soliloquies, flip-flopping between ambivalent inaction and "my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!"
* DeadpanSnarker: Immensely so. He rather enjoys running circles round Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are too dense to realize that he's mocking them.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the Avenging Hero archetype.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: Obsessively.
-->'''Hamlet:''' What is a man,\\
If his chief good and market of his time\\
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.\\
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,\\
Looking before and after, gave us not\\
That capability and god-like reason\\
To fust in us unused.
* TheDitherer: His FatalFlaw, according to many critics. The deaths of many could have been avoided if he had just made up his mind to do ''something''.
* DoubleEntendre: His weapon of choice. Extremely fond of using word play to mock others, especially using sexual double entendres around Ophelia.
%%* EmoTeen: Hamlet, the original emo kid, is a brooding pessimist who dresses all in black and pontificates about suicide. He's also spoilt, and resents his mother for remarrying. The slight hitch occurs in the Gravedigger scene, where it's stated that Hamlet is actually 30.
* EmotionallyTongueTied: Hamlet's inability to adequately articulate his emotion is a recurring theme and the source of much angst.
* EmotionsVsStoicism: One of the many inner conflicts he embodies.
-->'''Hamlet:''' But break, my heart, for [[ItCantBeHelped I must hold my tongue]].
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Hamlet's first line:
-->'''Claudius:''' But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,--\\
'''Hamlet:''' ''[Aside]'' A little more than kin, and less than kind.
:: : What does this tell us? 1) It's an ''aside'', so he's [[ThePhilosopher introspective]] and [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall mildly]] [[MediumAware audience-aware]]. 2) DeadpanSnarker and PungeonMaster. 3) [[TheCynic Cynical]] and [[BastardAngst fraternally troubled]].
** His "I know not 'seems'" monologue a few lines later is even more of an ECM.
* ExcessiveMourning: It certainly isn't, his father having died only a few months ago, but Claudius treats him as though it is.
-->'''Claudius:''' 'Tis [[MenDontCry unmanly]] grief.
* FamousLastWords: "The rest is silence."
* FatalFlaw: It's widely agreed that Hamlet has one.[[note]]he [[DiscussedTrope discusses the concept in an early scene]][[/note]] There's rather less agreement on what, specifically, it ''is''.
* TheFatalist: Shows signs of this in Act V.
-->'''Hamlet:''' We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. [[WeAllDieSomeday If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all]]: since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes? [[DissonantSerenity Let be]].
* FinalSpeech: repeatedly interrupted, but gets the job done.
* {{Foil}}: Fortinbras and Laertes, who both represent what Hamlet could have been if he were a decisive ActionHero instead of [[ThePhilosopher a philosopher]]. Horatio, the First Player, and possibly Rosencrantz/Guildenstern as well.
* GuiltComplex: Hamlet obsessively castigates himself for his failure to do something . . . and still fails to actually do something.
* HairTriggerTemper. While his indecisiveness is often cited as his FatalFlaw, Hamlet has a surprising proclivity toward lashing out with violence. Most notoriously, he kills Polonius when he mistakes him for the king, hiding behind the arras.
* HatesEveryoneEqually: Or claims to.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though [[GetYourMindOutoftheGutter by your smiling you seem to say so]].
* TheHeroDies: But that's okay, because WeAllDieSomeday, and thousands of actors will take their turns bringing the Melancholy Dane to life once again.
* HeroicVow: If only he'd sworn to ''obey'' the ghost instead of just to ''[[LiteralMinded remember]]'' it.
* HiddenDepths: Most of them still hidden to this day, in fact.
-->'''Hamlet:''' 'Tis not alone my [[IconicOutfit inky cloak]] ...\\
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,\\
That can denote me truly: these indeed ''seem'',\\
For [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall they are actions that a man might play]]:\\
But [[LampshadeHanging I have that within which passeth show;\\
These but the trappings and the suits of woe]].
* HisOwnWorstEnemy: Hamlet is far more of a threat to Hamlet than Claudius could ever hope to be.
* HonorBeforeReason: Aother of the conflicts he embodies. For example, when he has a chance to kill Claudius, he does not do so because he fears sending him to heaven--something his father was cruelly barred from. Some critics have identified the additional conflict of pagan values (e.g. family honour, avenging ones father's death) vs. Christian ones (not committing murder, the Divine Right of Kings, etc.).
* HotBlooded: Hamlet himself averts this, but discusses it often. He seems to hold a contradictory position on whether it is an admirable trait, castigating himself for own his lack of motivation ("I am pidgeon-livered and lack gall") but praising Horatio for his equanimity ("Give me the man who is not passion's slave / And I will wear him in my heart's core").
* {{Hypocrite}}: He despises Claudius for murdering his father, but whereas Claudius only commits one murder for personal advancement and spends the remainder of the play feeling guilty about it, Hamlet kills or ensures the death of several people who are only tangentially involved in what's going on, and doesn't feel the least bit sorry about it.
* IAmNotMyFather: Hamlet has no desire or capability to be a warrior-king like his father. Doesn't stop him from beating himself up for it, though.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: A meta reading of his early-on death wish. Is he referring to [[SuicideIsShameful God's laws prohibiting suicide]] . . . or the everlasting ''writer'' having fixed the ''canon'' of his work against his protagonist killing himself?
-->'''Hamlet:''' O ... that the Everlasting had not fixed\\
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!
* IconicItem: [[BlatantLies Just the heartwarming tale of]] [[ABoyAndHisX a boy and his skull]].
* IconicOutfit: Hamlet won't be casting his nighted colour off anytime soon, thank you very much.
* InsanityDefense: Uses this before the duel. Whether or not he believes it himself is up for debate.
* IRejectYourReality: Defied. Hamlet firmly rejects ''obfuscations'' of reality.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Seems, Madam? Nay, it ''is''; I know not 'seems'.
* IJustWantToBeNormal: Not happy about being chosen to lead a revenge plot.
-->'''Hamlet:''' The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite\\
That ever I was born to set it right!
* IndyPloy: He pretty much seems to be making things up on the fly.
* InformedFlaw:
-->'''Hamlet:''' I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, [[{{Irony}} revengeful]], ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in.
:: : . . . Are you, though?
* ItsAllAboutMe: When Hamlet comes across Laertes burying Ophelia, his beloved sister, how does he react? He [[BigEntrance jumps out of the bushes]] and announces that he loved Ophelia ''far'' more than her brother did, and no woe can ''possibly'' equal his.
* {{Jerkass}}: At his worst, he can be quite terrible to the people he interacts with, and his words are always cutting. Case in point: his mocking of Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern and his tirades towards Ophelia and Gertrude.
* KarmaHoudini: He dies, yes, but he never receives any direct comeuppance for his hand in the deaths of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Ophelia, and Laertes forgives him for [[EasilyForgiven murdering his father]].
* KillHimAlready: The driving conflict of the plot is Hamlet's uncertainty and hesitance in avenging his father's death. This can easily be read as a more general metaphor for man's uncertainty of his moral duty and place in the universe.
* LargeHam: His maybe-sarcastic, maybe-not bragging contest with Laertes over their love for Ophelia--Hamlet's surpasses the love of "five thousand brothers" in its intensity.
* LastRequest: For Horatio (and us) to [[ClearMyName clear his name]] and tell his story.
-->'''Hamlet:''' O good Horatio, what a wounded name,\\
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!\\
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart\\
Absent thee from [[DeadlyEuphemism felicity]] awhile,\\
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,\\
To tell my story.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: The tendency to do this is one of his defining character traits.
* LonelyRichKid: Hamlet might have more meaningful connections at school in Wittenberg, but at home in Elsinore he is profoundly lonely--somewhat justified, given his [[IntelligenceEqualsIsolation extraordinary but isolating intelligence]] and the fact that [[HumansAreBastards almost everyone around him is a lying, manipulable bastard]].
* LostInCharacter: One interpretation of his ambiguously-fake insanity.
* MadnessMakeover: He gives himself one when he starts [[ObfuscatingInsanity faking insanity]]. Ophelia describes it in great detail.
-->'''Ophelia:''' ... his doublet all unbraced;\\
No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled,\\
Ungartered, and down-gyved to his ankle;\\
Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;\\
And with a look so piteous in purport\\
As if he had been loosed out of hell\\
To speak of horrors.
* ManChild: [[VagueAge If he is indeed 30]], Hamlet very much qualifies.
* MasterOfTheMixedMessage: He alternates between claiming tempestuous love for Ophelia and hurling abuse at her.
* MilitaryBrat: Hamlet seems to have had a rather isolated childhood, with his royal father off at war much of the time. He found a ParentalSubstitute in Yorick, the court jester.
* MinoredInAsskicking: Hamlet is an introspective, nonconfrontational scholar, but he ends up beating MasterSwordsman Laertes fairly easily when it comes down to it (although the difficulty of the duel depends mostly on the staging).
* MoodSwinger: He oscillates between abject melancholy and manic frenziedness constantly. This may be a part of his feigned madness, or may simply be one of his many genuine eccentricities.
* MoralMyopia: Yes and yes.
* MultilayerFacade: Is he sane, faking insanity? Or is he insane faking sanity faking insanity?
* NeverMyFault: Hamlet never expresses any regret for the five relatively innocent lives his is responsible for ending. The fact that Hamlet embodies this ''and'' GuiltComplex at the same time is a testament to his ability to span dualities.
-->''Horatio:''' So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz [[DeadlyEuphemism go to't]].\\
'''Hamlet:''' Why, man, [[VictimBlaming they did make love to this employment;\\
They are not near my conscience. Their defeat\\
Does by their own insinuation grow]]:\\
'Tis dangerous when the [[StealthInsult baser nature]] comes\\
Between the pass and fell [[{{Foreshadowing}} incensed points]]\\
Of mighty opposites.
* NietzscheWannabe
-->'''Hamlet:''' What a piece of work is man ... and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.
* NotSoDifferent: From young Fortinbras. Hamlet respects his HotBlooded, decisive, passionate nature, and this, coupled with their similarities in situation and circumstance, is a large part of the reason Hamlet leaves the Danish crown to him when the entire royal line has been extinguished. [[{{Foil}} Hamlet sees Fortinbras as the man and ruler he wishes he himself could be.]]
* ObfuscatingInsanity: Many in the court (particularly Polonius) perceive Hamlet's eccentric speech and behaviour as signs of madness. It is up to the director's and audience's interpretation as to how much is feigned (to put Claudius in a false sense of security) and how much is real.
* OedipusComplex: Hamlet's relationship to his parents is sometimes interpreted as this. Notably, Creator/SigmundFreud himself thought so, saying that ''Hamlet'' is, "rooted in the same soil as Theatre/OedipusRex."
* ParalysisByAnalysis: The core of his character. He's so caught up analyzing the implications of his revenge--paralyzed by the sheer expansiveness of his own consciousness--that he can't bring himself to actually carry it out.
* ThePhilosopher: The defining example in the western canon, Hamlet is far more at home in the territory of the intellectual and abstract than the materialistic, action-oriented court he is meant to be at the helm of.
* PoliticallyIncorrectHero: Hamlet is inescapably sexist, something poor Ophelia pays the price for.
* PungeonMaster: Every other word out of his mouth is a DoubleEntendre, a StealthInsult, or just [[JustForPun wordplay for the sake of wordplay]].
* RenaissanceMan: [[InformedAttribute At least according to Ophelia]].
-->'''Ophelia:''' O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!\\
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;\\
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,\\
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,\\
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
* RidiculousProcrastinator: You had ONE job.
* RoyalBrat: An uncharitable reading of Hamlet, who has been raised in luxury and would probably spend less time agonizing over being vs not being if he spent some time with the serfs his family governs.
* ShoutOut: Constantly comparing himself and everyone around him to mythological figures.
* SociopathicHero: His commitment to correcting Claudius's injustice, a noble and moral goal on its own, is marred by the fact that he ruins his loved ones' lives without much concern in the process.
* SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat: His [[MinoredInAsskicking proficiency as a duelist]] comes rather out of left field.
* SwordOverHead: Hamlet exists perpetually in this metaphorical pose.
* TalkativeLoon: Hamlet talks nonsense and antagonizes those around him so they think he has gone mad and don't suspect him of plotting against the king. However, at certain points it's unclear how much of Hamlet's madness is feigned and how much of might be authentic.
* TomatoSurprise: During the duel with Laertes, Gertrude casually mentions that Hamlet is "fat and scant of breath". This fact seemingly justifies the whole deal with everyone assuming fight will immediately make him thirsty. Authenticity of this line is fiercely challenged by many Shakespearean scholars, who argue it's supposed to read "hot", not "fat"; or that "fat" is Shakespeare using an archaic regional term for "sweaty". [[YouAreFat Or, of course, she could just be teasing him]].[[note]]Keep in mind that Richard Burbage, the first player to enact Hamlet, weighed in at around 250 lbs.[[/note]]
* TragicHero: Hamlet's story is, [[{{Deconstruction}} superficially]], a classic revenge tragedy, a very popular genre at the time. In more general terms, Hamlet may be seen as the tragic representation of the soul as an individual, torn between a search for truth and an immediate duty, between fate and free will, between one moral code and another, whose uncertainty and hesitation lead to his downfall.
* TragicMistake: Hamlet's downfall can be traced back to the moment when he sees Claudius at prayer but decides to wait until later to strike the killing blow.
* UsedToBeMoreSocial: Before his father's death and mother's remarriage, according to his friends.
* VagueAge: Piecing together several of the gravedigger's lines seems to reveal that Hamlet is 30, and Hamlet himself claims to remember Yorick, who died twenty-three years prior. However, he is unmarried, frequently referred to as "young," and revealed at the start of the play to be attending university, which would have been nearly unheard of for someone past his early twenties.Besides, his emotional and mental states hardly seem congruent with a mature adult. Since no more than a few weeks can have passed since Act IV, some scholars believe Shakespeare wished to impose a new maturity on the very much changed Hamlet of Act V. Some ''other'' scholars have suggested that the Gravedigger's line was thrown in at the insistence of Richard Burbage, the 45-year-old actor who originally played the lead role and was probably unwilling to play a teenager (though that argument holds little water, considering Burbage was more than willing to enact ''[[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet Romeo]].'' Or, alternatively, it could be an example of WritersCannotDoMath. ''Or'' Shakespeare could do maths just fine, but the gravedigger can't. Alternatively, the gravedigger had it right, but later translations got it wrong: in the original spelling of the Folio text, one of the two authoritative texts for the play, the Gravedigger's answer to how long he has "been a grave-maker" reads "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heere, man and Boy thirty yeares." "Sixteene" is usually rendered as "sexton" (a modernization of the second quarto's "sexten"), even in modern texts that take F1 as their "copy text." But modernizing the punctuation--a normal practice in modernized texts--renders it "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heereóman and Boy thirty yeares." In other words, this reading suggests that he has been a grave-digger for sixteen years, but that he has lived in Denmark for thirty. According to this logic, then, it is the Grave-digger who is thirty, whereas Hamlet is only sixteen. It is also possible that [[StealthInsult the gravedigger is simply mocking him]].\\
These theories still don't explain how Hamlet can remember Yorick, who he says died twenty-three years ago.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: The [[TragicMistake pivotal moment]] when Hamlet [[SwordOverHead doesn't kill Claudius]] can be seen as this. What's less clear is ''what'' effect his decision should have on our opinion of him.
* WidowsWeeds: Hamlet wears his [[IconicOutfit signature black outfits]] in mourning for his father.
* TheWisePrince: Played with. How effective and benevolent a ruler he would actually have been is up for debate, but he is [[InformedAttribute beloved of the common people]]. And he is most definitely troubled.
* WritersCannotDoMath: A possible explanation for his TomatoSurprise [[VagueAge age]].
* YouKilledMyFather: Hamlet's main motivation is to avenge his dead father--or at least it ''should'' be. Hamlet slowly comes to terms with the fact that his chronic delaying might be symptomatic of his own unwillingness to follow through with the deed.

!!King Claudius
The King of Denmark is a brave, righteous war hero who strikes fears into his enemies' hearts and earns the admiration of all those without his privilege . . . so it's too bad his brother Claudius murdered him. Now Denmark has to deal with the slimy, manipulative Claudius as their ruler. He isn't ''proud'' of murdering his brother, but he's not remorseful enough to give up his throne either, so he's more than willing to get whoever he can to silence Hamlet before the prince can clear the throne of the sad trash that is King Claudius.
* AffablyEvil: A fairly common treatment in productions more sympathetic to him. This is backed up by some textual evidence.
* AllThereInTheScript: In the play itself he is never named, everyone calling him "the King", "your uncle," or "my husband".
* ArchEnemy: Subverted. Hamlet refers to himself and Claudius as "mighty opposites," but Claudius is clearly nowhere near the intellectual equal Hamlet needs.
* BigBad: It's thanks to him that the whole mess happened.
* BoisterousBruiser: Sometimes played this way.
* CainAndAbel: Claudius murdered his brother for his throne and queen prior to continuity.
* ComfortingTheWidow: Claudius "comforted" Gertrude. It helped win him the throne. On the other hand, he does seem to genuinely love her. It is not an unpopular AlternativeCharacterInterpretation that the throne was an afterthought and Claudius killed the king solely for Gertrude.
* DirtyCoward: From Hamlet's point of view, for killing Old Hamlet with poison. It shows in his repeated schemes to kill Hamlet in the most roundabout ways possible.
* DirtyOldMan: How Hamlet sees him.
* TheEvilPrince: He murdered his brother to take the Danish throne.
* EvilUncle: He tries to have Hamlet, his own nephew, killed twice. Also counts as WickedStepfather due to marrying Hamlet's mother.
* GentleTouchVsFirmHand: The firm hand. See below.
* HappilyMarried: Seems to be this with Gertrude.
* HeelFaithTurn: Subverted. In his confession soliloquy, he expresses [[OutDamnedSpot consuming guilt]] over the murder of his brother and stoops to pray, crying, "Help, angels!" but after rising reveals he does not feel true remorse and is therefore unable to ask forgiveness.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Stabbed with the [[PoisonedWeapons deadly foil he prepared]] and forced to drink [[TamperingWithFoodAndDrink the wine he poisoned]].
* IgnoredEpiphany: Actually comes close to repenting at one point, but he can't make himself give up the kingdom. Instead he abandons any thought of atoning and just concentrates on being King.
* ManipulativeBastard: He's extremely adept at playing people off against one another. We don't see him truly shine until Act IV, when Laertes storms the castle to avenge his father on Claudius, and Claudius manages to talk him out of it by manipulating his grief and anger to point at Hamlet instead.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: A plot point--Prince Hamlet intends to use his increasing guilt over murdering his brother against him by adding a fictionalized version of it to a play and prompting a guilty response from Claudius.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: He's based on the Roman emperor [[NamedAfterSomebodyFamous Claudius I]], who was considered the archetypal Evil Emperor in Elizabethan England, and who was poisoned by his niece (with whom he had an incestuous marriage).
* NonActionBigBad: Needs others to do the fighty bits for him. Though it seems he's pretty good at pouring poison in people's ears.
* OutDamnedSpot: Consumed with guilt over the murder of his brother.
-->'''Claudius:''' What if this cursèd hand\\
Were thicker than itself with brotherís blood?\\
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens\\
To wash it white as snow?
* PermanentElectedOfficial: If Denmark is in fact an ElectiveMonarchy, then Claudius is this. Well, permanent until someone revenges the last king on him, that is.
* PetTheDog: His interactions with Queen Gertrude. Early on, he seems to genuinely care about his nephew too,[[note]]though not as much as [[SayMyName Laertes Laertes Laertes]], god knows[[/note]] but he's also quite willing to have the prince killed.
* PoisonIsEvil: PerfectPoison is his weapon of choice.
* ReroutedFromHeaven: Inverted, discussed. Hamlet worries that if he murders Claudius while the king is at prayer, his soul will be rerouted ''to'' Heaven.
* RoyalWe: Claudius alternates between "I" and "we" based on the tone and subject matter of his speech. It's quite telling, if you know to look for it.
* SiblingTriangle: Claudius murdered his brother and married his brother's wife. Interpretations vary as to how complicit Gertrude is in the plot and how long the affair had been going on for.
* SketchySuccessor: To King Hamlet.
* SleazyPolitician: Murder seems to be the one political tool in his repertoire.
* SnakesAreSinister: Irreversibly associates himself with snake imagery when publicizes that King Hamlet was killed by a snake in his orchard.
--->'''Ghost:''' The serpent that did sting thy father's life\\
Now wears his crown.
* StrongEmpireShriveledEmperor: Claudius's incompetence hasn't yet begun to affect his brother's powerful war state. Possibly {{Subverted}} if one interprets that Claudius is actually a ''better'' King than his dead brother, capable of making peace with Denmarks enemies and not doing anything especially evil other than the crime itself and attempts to cover it up.
* TheUsurper: yes
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Claudius seems generally beloved by the court and populous, all of whom are unaware that he usurped the crown by killing his brother.


Hamlet's devoted and constant companion, Horatio is a skeptical college student who doubts the existence of ghosts--at first. This only makes it all the more shocking when Horatio comes to Hamlet with news that the ghost of the King is haunting Denmark. From there, if Hamlet needs to talk to anyone about ghosts or regicide, Horatio is right there to hear him out.
* ActionSurvivor: Arguably the SupportingProtagonist--oddly, when [[RenaissanceMan Hamlet]]'s standing right there beside him.
* AudienceSurrogate: The reason Horatio is in the play. Watch carefully--he's onstage before Hamlet, remains behind when he has gone (either to England or into the undiscovered country), is present in many key scenes where he really shouldn't be, reacts to Hamlet exactly as his enraptured audience would, and eventually resolves to go on and tell the story he has just witnessed. Who but the audience could love Hamlet with such honest, heartfelt devotion?
* ClearTheirName: Horatio goes into the final portion of the play--and, presumably, the rest of his life--with the mission to clear Hamlet's name, or at least make known the circumstances of his questionable actions.
* TheConfidant: In purest form.
* TheConsigliere: Played with. Hamlet often asks Horatio for his advice or opinion, but unfailingly disregards it.
* {{Foil}}: Where Hamlet can be said to encompass every color of human spirit, Horatio is colorless and has no character save what [[AudienceSurrogate we project onto him]][[TropesAreNotBad --rightfully so.]]
* HamAndDeadpanDuo: With [[PunnyName Ham]]let.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: He and Hamlet seem quite close, to the point of Horatio attempting suicide upon Hamlet's death [[YouAreWorthHell (effectively forsaking his own salvation)]]. Horatio is the only person Hamlet truly trusts enough to share his plans with, and the only one who doesn't betray him in some fashion. Some productions do add a homoerotic element to their relationship (or, in some sissy cases, they cast Horatio as a woman in love with Hamlet).
* HonestAdvisor: Hamlet can count on Horatio to speak his mind, unlike the fawning [[YesMan Yes-Men]] Hamlet is usually attended by.
-->'''Horatio:''' 'Twere to consider too curiously to consider so.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: His UndyingLoyalty to Hamlet and status as an outsider at court protect him from Claudius's [[TheCorrupter influence]].[[note]]But also: awwww![[/note]]
* InformedAbility: Horatio is called in to confirm or deny the apparition of King Hamlet supposedly because he is a scholar. However, he never demonstrates that he's any smarter or more educated than Hamlet or Laertes.
* InterclassFriendship: Hamlet, prince of Denmark, and Horatio, university student and only commoner at Elsinore. Horatio's humble station is part of the reason Hamlet [[TheOnlyOneITrust trusts]] him so implicitly; as a prince, he's used to being surrounded by {{Professional Butt Kisser}}s who flatter to gain favor and advancement, whereas . . . that's kind of off the table for Horatio. He also makes it clear that this is why Horatio can trust him:
-->'''Hamlet:''' Nay, do not think I flatter;\\
For what advancement may I hope from thee\\
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,\\
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
* IShouldWriteABookAboutThis: Hamlet implores him to keep his memory alive after he is dead, and it is implied that Horatio becomes the narrator of the story.
* MoralityPet: The only person Hamlet is consistently nice to, or sees as worth being nice to.
* OmnidisciplinaryScientist: Horatio is a scholar, so of course he knows how to speak to a ghost. [[SubvertedTrope Except it doesn't work]] because Horatio is WrongGenreSavvy.
* TheOnlyOneITrust: The only one privy to Hamlet's revenge plot (besides [[AudienceSurrogate us]], of course).
* OnlySaneMan: Probably why he's the only main character ''alive'' at the end.
* TheQuietOne: His screentime far excels his number of lines.
* SecretKeeper: Swore an oath with Hamlet concerning the Ghost.
* SkepticNoLonger: Goes from "tush, 'twill not appear" to "I might not this believe / Without the sensible and true avouch of mine own eyes" after encountering the ghost himself.
* TheStoic: Hamlet praises him for this quality.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ... thou hast been\\
As one, [[AudienceSurrogate in suffering all, that suffers nothing]],\\
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards\\
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those\\
Whose blood and judgment are so well commettled,\\
That they are not [[{{Foreshadowing}} a pipe for fortune's finger]]\\
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man\\
That is not passion's slave, and [[PlatonicDeclarationOfLove I will wear him\\
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,\\
As I do thee]].
* StraightMan: To Hamlet's WiseGuy.
* SupportingProtagonist: As the AudienceSurrogate, onstage before and after Hamlet, it's easy to read him this way.
* TogetherInDeath: Attempted at the end, but a dying Hamlet stops him.
* UndyingLoyalty: To Hamlet.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Horatio's failure to communicate with the Ghost is not for lack of trying: he demands that it tell him if 1) some ''good'' deed may be done to quiet it, 2) it comes to warn the country of some terrible fate, or 3) it comes to tell where it buried the treasure in its life--which were all common tropes and would be perfectly plausible if we were in a more lighthearted genre.
* YesMan: Horatio is so honestly devoted to his prince that he's able to play both Yes-Man and HonestAdvisor.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ''[examining a skull]'' Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'the earth?\\
'''Horatio:''' E'en so.\\
'''Hamlet:''' And smelt so? pah!\\
'''Horatio:''' E'en so, my lord.

Polonius gave us the wisdom that "[[BeigeProse Brevity is Wit]]", but we should give it back, because he will never, ever stop talking. It doesn't matter if he has anything to say or if he'll actively make the situation worse; he'll yap on until whoever he's talking to gets sick of it and shuts him up. Problem is, a daughter can't shut up her father, so Ophelia has to take Polonius's advice and live by it. Not the best at romantic maneuvering, Polonius meets his end at the sword of his daughter's ex-sweetheart, our boy Hamlet.
* AbusiveParents: Certain interpretations of Polonius show him as this towards Ophelia, manipulating her and keeping her emotionally stunted.
* AmazinglyEmbarrassingParents: Polonius reads one of Hamlet's love letters to Ophelia out loud to the King and Queen--sometimes with Ophelia onstage.
* BreadEggsBreadedEggs: Prone to this.
* CaptainObvious: Polonius is the master of this trope. Appropriately enough, his last words are, "O! I am slain!" It has been assumed he says that due to the difficulty the audience would have had confirming the death of a character behind a curtain, but still . . .
* TheConsigliere: Certain interpretations, like the Royal National Theatre's 2001 production, see him even as TheManBehindTheMan regarding Claudius.
* DishonoredDead: Polonius is reportedly given very quick and shoddy funeral rites, what with the king and queen trying to brush their heir's new homicidal tendencies under the rug and all.
* DoubleStandard: He holds his children's sex lives to a pretty era-typical double standard.
* FamousLastWords: "[[CaptainObvious O, I am slain!]]"
* HurricaneOfAphorisms: He delivers one to Laertes as his final advice before he sends him off to school. It sounds like good advice (that's where we get "to thine own self be true"), until you remember that Polonius is the source.
* HypocriticalHumor: He claims that brevity is the soul of wit . . . while being one of the most talkative and least witty characters in the play.
* IdiotBall: For a man who claims to be so wise, every single one of his decisions ends badly for him. Driving a wedge between Ophelia and Hamlet drives the former insane and the latter off the deep end, the advice he gives to Claudius and Gertrude about Hamlet's madness sets everyone on the wrong track for two acts, and his final attempt to spy on Hamlet gets him killed.
* {{Irony}}: Many of Polonius's [[HurricaneOfAphorisms kernels of wisdom]]--such as [[BrevityIsWit "brevity is the soul of wit"]] and "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"--have [[MemeticMutation become widely known]] and are often WrongfullyAttributed to Shakespeare himself--despite belonging to a comic buffoon whom no one is meant to take seriously.
* LackOfEmpathy: He may try to give the appearance of empathy, but would anyone with empathy use his own daughter as bait to find out whether her ex-lover is mad?
* LastDisrespects: Gets a really lovely eulogy from Hamlet:
-->'''Hamlet:''' Indeed this counsellor\\
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,\\
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Abides by this philosophy regarding Hamlet and Ophelia.
* MeddlingParents: WILL NOT get his nose out of his children's business.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: One interpretation of his character is that he's much smarter than he appears, but plays the part of the fool in order to stay in the good graces of the king and hide his devious social climbing.
* OldWindbag: He'll go on and on[[note]]and on and on and on and on and ''on''[[/note]] in sententious displays of his "wisdom" to anyone who will listen. Hamlet calls him a "tedious old fool."
* OverprotectiveDad: To both of his children. He sends a spy to monitor Laertes while he studies in Paris, and drives himself between Ophelia and her love Hamlet.
* PurpleProse: His standard manner of speaking,[[note]]though technically it is ''verse'', not prose[[/note]] played for laughs with the advice he offers his son, as well as the scene where he claims that "brevity is the soul of wit" and then fails to explain briefly what he's on about.
* ShooOutTheClowns: Naturally, as the closest thing to a comic-relief role in the play, he dies in Act III.
* SleazyPolitician: Ostensibly, he's the King's chief counselor, but he's really just a sycophant willing to scheme and connive to maintain his status.
* TooDumbToLive: Because curtains are definitely swordproof.
* UpperClassTwit: One interpretation is that he's a parody of the Renaissance ''novus homus'': an over-educated commoner living the good life because he's impressed enough nobles.
* WindbagPolitician: As noted, Polonius is prone to being long-winded. Everyone around him lampshades this.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Seems to think he's in a StarCrossedLovers play rather than a revenge tragedy.

The brother of Ophelia, who comes back from his studies in France for King Hamlet's funeral, only to leave soon after advising his sister to be careful with her wooer. When his father is killed and his sister is driven to madness, he returns to Denmark, raises a mob, and leads a [[TheCoup coup]] against Claudius. Being the ManipulativeBastard that he is, however, Claudius manages to talk Laertes down and redirect his anger toward Hamlet.
* AntiVillain: While he sides with Claudius in conspiring to poison Hamlet, his motivations in doing so are thoroughly understandable. His desire to avenge his father and sister is no different from Hamlet's goal of avenging the dead king.
* BigBrotherInstinct: Before leaving for France, Laertes warns his sister Ophelia from getting involved with Hamlet.
* ChekhovsGunman: He is introduced in the first act and appears briefly in two scenes before spending most of the play in France. [[TheBusCameBack He returns to play a major role in the final act]].
* ChewingTheScenery: His protestations of grief at Ophelia's funeral get . . . dramatic.
* TheCorruptible: His grief and anger over his father's death make him an easy target for [[TheCorrupter Claudius]].
* DeathEqualsRedemption: Only when he knows he is dying does Laertes reconcile with Hamlet, absolving him of his and his father's deaths and urging Hamlet to kill Claudius.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Or rather, MutualKill Means Friendship. When it is clear that they are both dying, he and Hamlet reconcile and he reveals all of Claudius's plot.
* {{Foil}}: To Hamlet. [[NotSoDifferent They are both out to avenge their fathers]], but whereas Hamlet vacillates for five acts and keeps his entire plot to himself and the [[AudienceSurrogate audience]], Laertes raises a mob and leads a coup against Claudius.
** Hamlet lampshades this in the final duel, punning on being Laertes's "foil" (the rapiers they are dueling with are called foils).
* TheDragon: Becomes the final obstacle between Hamlet and Claudius.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: His request to return to school after attending the funeral/wedding, with Claudius treating him [[WhyAreYouNotMySon like a second son]], establishes him as a {{Foil}} to Hamlet.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Killed by the same poisoned blade he uses to kill Hamlet.
-->'''Laertes:''' I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
* HotBlooded: Not to the extent of [[Theatre/HenryIVPart1 Hotspur]] or [[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet Tybalt]], but has a similar proclivity toward action. [[{{Foil}} Compared to Hamlet]] he's positively feverous.
* LeeroyJenkins: [[{{pun}} Foils]] Claudius's master plan when he loses patience and his temper and cuts Hamlet between bouts in their deadly fencing match.
* MasterSwordsman: [[InformedAbility At least according to]] Claudius and Osric. Given that the [[SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat ambiguously experienced]] Hamlet bests him fairly easily in their fencing match, this may or may not be an accurate description.
* MySisterIsOffLimits: Laertes does ''not'' want Hamlet seeing Ophelia. [[JerkassHasAPoint As it turns out, he was right to worry.]]
* NotSoDifferent: From Hamlet, as Hamlet lampshades:
-->'''Hamlet:''' ... for in my cause I see\\
The portraiture of his.
* RabbleRouser: Is apparently charismatic enough to inspire a mob of angry citizens to ransack Elsinore with him.
* RivalTurnedEvil: It's unclear how close Hamlet and Laertes have been, but Claudius's blatant preferential treatment of Laertes[[note]][[SayMyName Laertes Laertes Laertes Laertes]][[/note]] over his own nephew (and purported adopted son) clearly casts the two as rivals. Justifiedly, after Hamlet inadvertently kills Laertes's father, the two become enemies, with Laertes promoted to Claudius's [[TheDragon Dragon]].
* WhyAreYouNotMySon: Claudius makes it ''abundantly'' clear that he favors Laertes[[note]][[SayMyName Laertes Laertes Laertes Laertes]][[/note]] over Hamlet.
* YouKilledMyFather: His reaction to his father's death [[{{Foil}} stands in stark contrast]] to Hamlet's behaviour. While Hamlet's [[KillHimAlready hesitation]] to seek revenge proves to be his undoing, Laertes is quite the opposite. After hearing that Polonius has been killed, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that Claudius is responsible. He returns to Denmark with an army of supporters, bent on committing regicide.

A noblewoman and the sometime target of Hamlet's affections--though that is soon put to an end by disapproval of her overprotective brother and her pretentious father. On top of that, Hamlet has become withdrawn and consumed with sorrow after his own familial turmoil and now begins to take out his anger against his mother on Ophelia, assaulting her with cruel innuendos and accusations of infidelity. And ''then'' her father dies, murdered by Hamlet, which pushes her over the edge and into madness. It's unclear whether she was even stable enough to keep herself breathing, which becomes important when Gertrude finds her drowned body. Gertrude chooses to call it an accident, but if gravediggers and priests know anything about death, Ophelia may just have killed herself.
* BarefootLoon: In many adaptations, including paintings, Ophelia is barefoot during her mad scenes.
* BreakTheCutie: The TraumaCongaLine of her brother leaving, her lover rejecting her, her father dying at her lover's hands, and her lover's banishment hits her hard.
* BroodingBoyGentleGirl: Hamlet and Ophelia could be seen as a deconstruction. Ophelia is gentle, sweet, and fragile, whereas Hamlet is brooding and angst-ridden, yet both of them are given much more complexity than the simplicity of this trope entails. They are alike in many ways; they both have fragile mental states and eventually react to their fathers' deaths by (ostensibly) going mad.
* ButtMonkey: She ends up getting the worst of the scheming of Hamlet, Polonius, and Claudius.
* TheCoronerDothProtestTooMuch: [[InvertedTrope For once]], it actually ''was'' suicide. (Probably.)
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: Whether Ophelia has actually her "chaste treasure opened / To his unmastered importunity" is open to interpretation.
* DishonoredDead: As her death was likely a [[SuicideIsShameful suicide]], Ophelia's burial is rather low-key. When Laertes complains about this, the priest replies that she's only getting a cemetery plot at all on the orders of the king.
* DrivenToSuicide: Queen Gertrude reports Ophelia's death to have been an accident, but the man who digs her grave says she shouldn't be buried in holy ground because she drowned herself.
* EnglishRose: Usually played this way until her [[TheOphelia descent into madness]].
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: Some productions have her start out with her hair up (as typical for women of her time) and let it get more and more unkempt throughout the play until it's completely loose, to parallel her becoming more unhinged.
* FlowerInHerHair: Her "mad scene" sometimes has her come out with flowers woven into her hair.
* FlowerMotifs: As part of her trope-naming [[TheOphelia Ophelia]]-sequence, she distributes real or imaginary flowers to the assembled court. The meaning behind each of the flowers remains open to interpretation.
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: To become TheOphelia.
* HiddenDepths: Her "noble mind" soliloquy displays an elegance and depth of thought she has not previously been shown to possess--probably because this is the first (and only) time she's onstage alone without a man trampling all over her lines.
* HoneyTrap: Used as a downplayed example against Hamlet.
* KillTheCutie: Ophelia, a sweet, perceptive girl with no enemies, is found drowned in a river at the end of Act IV, possibly in an act of insanity and/or suicide.
* KindRestraints: Sometimes placed in a straitjacket and/or padded cell.
* LoveHurts: Her love for Hamlet causes her a great deal of grief. A combination of her father's meddling and Hamlet's callous rejection drives her insane.
* LoveMartyr: Ophelia is utterly devoted to Hamlet, despite his cold rejection and abusive treatment of her. This, among [[TraumaCongaLine several other tragic circumstances]] eventually leads her to make the ultimate sacrifice: [[DrivenToSuicide her life]].
* MadnessMakeover: She gets a fairly drastic one, though its details vary from production to production.
* MadOracle: Possibly in her mad scene, if the flowers reveal she has somehow gained insight into the secret desires of the court.
* NeutralFemale: She shows very little independence and simply acts as a pawn to her father, and then as the impetus for Laertes's revenge after her death.
* TheOphelia: Ophelia becomes ''the'' Ophelia after going mad in Act IV--after her sometime sweetheart stabs her dad through a curtain, her sanity quickly decays. Her brother, Laertes, returns to Elsinore in a rush, but by the time he gets there, Ophelia doesn't even recognize him. Her famous "mad scenes" consist of singing filthy, bawdy songs that are out of place with her demure mien, strewing imaginary flowers, and sobbing over her father's death. The Queen later reports Ophelia drowned, saying she was hanging a wreath of flowers in a [[RuleOfSymbolism willow]] tree over a river and was so distracted she didn't even recognize the danger when she fell in, but kept singing. Her gravedigger darkly asserts she was DrivenToSuicide and is now damned.
* SanitySlippageSong: She sings snippets of several songs during her mad scenes. Analysis can provide some insight into the reasons for her madness--as if they weren't obvious already.
* SecretRelationship: Hamlet has been courting her in secret--though, as Gertrude's graveside admission, "I hoped thou should'st have been my Hamlet's wife", reveals, it's possible EverybodyKnewAlready.
* StarCrossedLovers: At least as far as her father is concerned.
-->'''Polonius:''' Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
* SuicideBySea: Drowns herself (if it wasn't accidental) after everything in her life goes to hell.
* TalkativeLoon: In her final scenes, she is reduced to rambling vaguely prophetic-sounding nonsense.
* TalkingToThemself: It's unclear if she's talking to herself, the characters onstage, or absent characters.
* TemporaryLoveInterest: Likely a case of an UnbuiltTrope. Her relationship with Hamlet fits the requirements, but her departure from the story is ''very'' significant.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: A White character in a world of BlackAndGrayMorality. Yeah, she wasn't gonna last.
* UptownGirl: Hamlet is a prince, heir to the throne of Denmark; Ophelia is daughter to the king's chief counsellor. Polonius discourages their relationship partly because Hamlet is royalty, and thus "on his choice depends / The safety and the health of this whole state." However, Gertrude later reveals that she hoped the two would marry, so maybe there wouldn't have been a problem after all.

!!Queen Gertrude
The Queen of Denmark is bound to love the King 'til death do them apart, but it's also polite to delay re-marriage after death, to not marry the King's brother, and to make sure that brother didn't murder the King. Gertrude only knows about the first half of that sentence [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation (probably)]] and that turns all the love her son Hamlet has to her into hatred. He doesn't want to kill her, but that doesn't stop him from chewing her out.
* DrivenToSuicide: Some interpretations hold that she knowingly drinks the poisoned drink intended to kill her son. If it was supposed to be a HeroicSacrifice, she did a cruddy job: there's enough left over to kill Claudius and almost Horatio.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment:
-->'''Gertrude:''' Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:\\
I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
** Caring, motherly, charismatic--and [[ManipulativeBastard totally willing to use it]].
* EvilMatriarch: Hamlet sees her as this. Whether or not she is one depends on interpretation.
* GentleTouchVsFirmHand: When the [[RulingCouple power couple]] wants one of their subjects to do X, Claudius generally leads off with a stern half-command, all too aware that it's being issued by a ''king'', while Gertrude tries a softer, more empathetic approach. Especially evident when the two convince Hamlet not to return to school (he responds to Gertrude) and when they convince Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet (they respond to Claudius).
* GuessWhoImMarrying: Hamlet is deeply shocked that she marries her former brother-in-law so soon after her husband's death.
* ParentsAsPeople: Gertrude has her own life, motivations, and desires beyond Hamlet. He's having a hard time accepting that.
* ParentWithNewParamour: She marries Claudius after the elder Hamlet's death. Whether or not she was complicit in the murder varies depending on interpretation.
* PlayingGertrude: Almost universal among adaptations, hence the [[TropeNamer trope name]].
* PushoverParents: Shows signs of this in the closet scene.
* RemarriedToTheMistress: Some adaptations imply she was involved with Claudius before her husband's death.
* ShamingTheMob: Her shining moment in many productions.
-->'''Gertude:''' How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!\\
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
* SilkHidingSteel: As the above shows, Gertrude is more than the ProperLady she appears to be.
* StepfordSmiler: In most productions.

[[folder:Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]]
!!Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Two old friends of Hamlet who care more for humor and not getting their heads chopped off than loyalty to the Danish prince, as evidenced when they agree to spy on him for Hamlet's father's murderer.
* AllMenArePerverts: Hamlet has to repeatedly ask them to GetYourMindOutOfTheGutter.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Especially in Franco Zeffirelli's version.
* BadLiar: Hamlet sees through them almost immediately.
* ConflictingLoyalty: To Claudius, the king, and to Hamlet, their prince and dear friend who may or may not be sane.
* TheCorruptible: [[TheCorrupter Claudius]] wins them over fairly easily.
* TheDividual: They go everywhere together, finish each other's lines, and eventually die together. [[LampshadeHanging Even Claudius gets them confused]], with Gertrude having to correct him.
* EtTuBrute: Hamlet is considerably shaken after discovering that even his "excellent good friends" have become Claudius's spies.
* ForYourOwnGood: They only agree to spy on Hamlet because they are genuinely concerned for his mental stability. And because, y'know, the king will execute them if they don't.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Sure.
* InnocentBystander:
-->'''Hamlet:''' 'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes\\
Between the pass and fell incensèd points\\
Of mighty opposites.
* KarmicDeath: Subverted. The play never gives ''any'' indication whatsoever that Claudius made them aware of his plan for them to become complicit in their old friend Hamlet's execution ([[FridgeLogic and to be perfectly honest, it doesn't really make sense for him to have done so, either]].) [[PoorCommunicationKills But Hamlet doesn't know this]], and he switches the missive they are transporting to England for the king to [[PleaseShootTheMessenger one commanding for the bearers' executions]], then rather callously leaves them to die.
* TheMole: Brought to Elsinore to spy on Hamlet for Claudius.
* OffWithHisHead: The reason Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead.
* PleaseShootTheMessenger: The ''other'' reason Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead.
* ShooOutTheClowns: Gotten rid of by the end of Act IV to make way for the seriousness to come. ''Hamlet'' being what it is, this in naturally done by killing them both off.
* StraightMan: Play this to Hamlet's WiseGuy for most of II.3.
* UnwittingPawn: They agreed to try to figure out the cause of Hamlet's madness. They did ''not'' agree to bear a letter to England commanding his execution.
* WeUsedToBeFriends: Their betrayal irreparably damages their close friendship with Hamlet.

[[folder:King Hamlet]]
!!King Hamlet
The last king of Denmark. A just and admirable ruler [[InformedAttribute (at least according to his son)]], his reign tragically cut short when his little brother decided he'd rather have the throne and queen to himself. But surprise! Hammie the elder is still very much around, and he's out for {{revenge}} big-time.
* TheBusCameBack: He apparently gets a second parole-from-[[FireAndBrimstoneHell Hell]] to whet Hamlet's almost-blunted purpose in Act III.
* CainAndAbel: The Abel half, obviously.
* ChewingTheScenery: On top of being, y'know, a spirit or goblin damn'd, he has some of the most dramatic dialogue in the play, [[WorldOfHam which is saying a lot]].
-->'''Ghost:''' The hour is almost come\\
When I to [[FireAndBrimstoneHell sulf'rous and tormenting flames]]\\
Must render up myself.
* CreatorCameo: Almost certainly played by the [[SarcasmMode little-known]] actor Will Shakespeare. This has some ''very'' interesting implications when you consider that ''Hamlet'' was written shortly after Shakespeare's only son, Ham''net'', died--it's almost as though the play is an inversion of reality where the father is a ghost to the son.
* DadTheVeteran: Assuming he wasn't off fighting military campaigns right up until his death.
* DeadPersonImpersonation: Hamlet does not seem to truly doubt this, despite using it as an excuse to get further proof (i.e. delay), but considering the Ghost alludes to enduring fiery punishment for his sins, implores Hamlet to take revenge, and ultimately sets off the events that kill most of the cast, it's a possibility that must be examined.
* DeceasedParentsAreTheBest: Hamlet remembers his father with much fondness, [[ParentalAbandonment perhaps more than is warranted]].
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The script refers to him only as "The Ghost," further complicating the [[DeadPersonImpersonation question of his identity]].
** Hamlet, who already believes, subverts this early on:
--->'''Hamlet:''' I'll call thee Hamlet,\\
King, Father, Royal Dane. O, answer me!
* FrontlineGeneral: Spent most of his life on the front lines, leading Denmark to victory.
* HelpfulHallucination: Seems impossible, since Hamlet was not even the first to see him, but the scene when he appears to Hamlet but not to Gertrude almost calls this into question . . . Claudius very much did kill his brother, though.
* OldSoldier: Was one before the whole regicide thing. He still acts like this when he [[DeadPersonConversation comes back]].
* OldWindbag: For someone with a limited amount of time to set his kingdom to rights, he sure takes a long time to get to the point.
-->'''Ghost:''' ''[in a perfect world]'' Hamlet! You know how you suspect your uncle of killing me for the throne? He did! You need to take revenge and claim your place on the throne. But don't do anything dumb like pretending to be crazy or dragging Gertrude into this. Go! ''[disappears in a puff of plot resolution]''
* PosthumousCharacter: He does make it onscreen as a ghost in this case.
* ReroutedFromHeaven: Justified. Since Claudius offed him [[SlainInTheirSleep in his sleep]], he was unable to confess his sins and be absolved before death and so was sent on to the afterlife with all his sins on his head.
* SlainInTheirSleep: Was murdered while napping in the garden.
* UnfinishedBusiness: Well, he didn't rise from the grave for a friendly chat about the weather.

[[folder:The Gravedigger]]
!!First Gravedigger
The Gravedigger, or First Clown, as the Folio refers to him, is perhaps Hamlet's only true intellectual equal in the play. No, seriously: Hamlet's conversation with the sexton he comes across digging a [[DramaticIrony grave for Ophelia]] in the castle churchyard is the only one in the play in which he does not maintain the definitive upper hand he whole time and instead finds himself playing StraightMan to an even more accomplished WiseGuy. But before Hamlet enters the scene, the Gravedigger and his subordinate discuss the implications and definition of suicide with more earnest practicality than anyone else in the play has displayed.

There are no illusions shrouding death here.
* BlackComedy: Identified as a "clown," the Gravedigger is the closest thing the play has to a [[ServileSnarker Shakespearean]] [[TheJester Fool]] (unless you count the alleged skull of Yorick). He jokes about graves and suicide and coerces the audience to laugh with him.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment:
-->'''Hamlet:''' Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that [[SoundtrackDissonance he sings at grave-making]]?
* TheJester: Speaking truth to power [[VagueAge for thirty years]].
* ItGetsEasier: He is understandably matter-of-fact about death after having been sexton at Castle Elsinore his whole life.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?\\
'''Horatio:''' Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
* LargeHam: Usually.
* LastDisrespects: His treatment of Ophelia while digging her grave is anything but reverent, though this is more from [[ConditionedToAcceptHorror desensitization to death]] after his long years as a "grave-maker" than from actual malice.
* LiteralistSnarking: Mocks Hamlet by answering his question in the most uselessly literal way possible:
-->'''Hamlet:''' How came he mad?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' Very strangely, they say.\\
'''Hamlet:''' How strangely?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' Faith, e'en with losing his wits.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Upon what ground?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' Why, here in Denmark.[[note]][[{{Rimshot}} Ba-dum tsss.]][[/note]]
* {{Malaproper}}: Very much so. Unfortunately, his slips (like saying "argal" when he means "ergo") can be very easy to miss given all the archaic language surrounding them.
* OneShotCharacter: With infinite potential to be a OneSceneWonder.
* OnlySaneMan: Significantly placed outside the castle, where Claudius's coruption has not managed to reach.
* PluckyComicRelief: A breath of ironic fresh air in the midst of the play's [[ShooOutTheClowns very]] dark second half.
* ServileSnarker: Unparalleled as a DeadpanSnarker.

!!Prince Fortinbras
The crown prince of Norway doesn't play much of a part in ''Hamlet'', since he's ''supposedly'' only marching through Denmark to conquer a small piece of land of little importance to anyone. He shows up briefly in Act IV, but only enters the action in the last scene of the play, when he strolls into Denmark after [[RulingFamilyMassacre everyone dies]] and prepares to put the kingdom back together.
* TheAce: Young Fortinbras is both an accomplished student and a successful military commander. His arrival to take the throne of Denmark is usually shown in a very positive light, as there's every indication that he will be a superior king to either Claudius or Hamlet.
* {{Foil}}: To . . . (wait for it) . . . Hamlet! Wow, surprise. In the play's backstory, Fortinbras's father, the ''other'' Fortinbras, was killed in combat by King Hamlet, giving Fortinbras the same [[YouKilledMyFather motivation]] as Hamlet. ''Unlike'' Hamlet, he is perfectly content to be a war king and commands his rightfully obedient troops with decisive mettle.
* GlorySeeker: Goes to war for the glory of it.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: He has his own revenge plot (directed against Hamlet's father/the Danes), and his movements are referenced throughout the play, although he only appears in person at the end, wherein his revenge completely succeeds and he conquers Denmark (aided by almost everyone else being dead).
* KarmaHoudini: Arguably. Some readings of the text and some adaptations have him attempting to conquer Denmark underhandedly rather than just passing through with his army as he claims, and the ending for him is Hamlet supporting him to be the next king. If this was his plan, then he's not only exculpated for his treacherous actions; he ends up being ''rewarded'' for it.
* NotSoDifferent: From Hamlet, [[LampshadeHanging which Hamlet of course points out.]] Despite Fortinbras's desire to avenge his father, on old King Hamlet, he and Hamlet seem to conceive a mutual respect for one another. Hamlet even bequeaths him the Danish crown in the final act to avoid a SuccessionCrisis after the royal line has been wiped out, [[MagnificentBastard which also ties Denmark and Norway closely together and will end a great deal of potential conflict between the two kingdoms.]] [[WorthyOpponent Fortinbras also proclaims that he will honor Hamlet with a full military funeral and says he would have made an excellent king, in his opinion.]]
* RedHerring: All that talk of Fortinbras's invasion and time devoted building up is his character? He ends up being a tertiary character at best and just ends up invading Poland, instead. He has nothing to do with the tragedy of the play.
* WarForFunAndProfit: Seems to be his modus operandi. Hamlet muses on this:
-->'''Hamlet:''' Rightly, to be great\\
Is greatly to [[PretextForWar find quarrel in a straw]].
* YouKilledMyFather: He planned to attack Denmark (probably) because Hamlet's father killed his in battle.

!!{{Spear Carrier}}s and {{Bit Character}}s
Every StandardRoyalCourt needs, well, courtiers to flesh it out. And ''Hamlet'' has plenty of minor characters. Combining roles is common; doublecasting, universal.
* BitCharacter: Special mention goes to Francisco, who starts the first scene off with Barnardo, makes an [[{{Foreshadowing}} ominous, cryptic remark]], and then promptly leaves as his shift ends, neatly missing the entire play.
* ButtMonkey: Osric spends his entire scene being humiliated and denigrated, largely undeservedly.
* CaptainObvious: Hamlet forces Osric into this role repeatedly, much to the latter's embarrassment.
* CreatorCameo: Shakespeare as the First Player.
* TheDandy: Osric. Hamlet and Horatio mock him mercilessly for it.
* DeusExMachina: The pirates who rescue Hamlet on the way to England.
* TheDividual: The oft-neglected ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius[[note]][[Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead Are Alive?]][[/note]] even share a couple line attributions.
* EliteMooks: Claudius's "[[AnachronismStew Switzers]]".
* HeroOfAnotherStory: Reynaldo, the servant Polonius sends to spy on Laertes at school, seems well poised to protagonize a Shakespearean comedy.
* LoyalToThePosition: The Danish watchmen, as the play's third line reveals, are loyal to the king. Doesn't much matter which one.
-->'''Francisco:''' Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself!\\
'''Barnardo:''' Long live the king!
* MrExposition: Marcellus, the Danish guard [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse who disappears after Act I]], often plays this role.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: The Players are clearly supposed to be William Shakespeare's own troupe.
* ParentalSubstitute: [[PosthumousCharacter Yorick]] seems to have been a surrogate for Hamlet's unavailable royal progenitors.
* PosthumousCharacter: Yorick, the twenty-three-years-dead court [[TheJester jester]], who makes it onstage [[AlasPoorYorick as a skull]] . . . even though he clearly doesn't. The Gravedigger is excavating a mass grave ''full'' of random skulls and would have no way of knowing whose this actually was.
* ThePowerOfActing: The First Player is an [[MasterActor accomplished thespian]] and manages to turn a StylisticSuck of a speech into a wrenching soliloquy-catalyst.
* ProfessionalButtKisser: There are reportedly many of these at Elsinore, though Osric is the only one we meet. Hamlet ''hates'' these guys.
-->'''Hamlet:''' [This might be the skull] of a courtier; which could say 'Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?' This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord such-a-one's horse, when he meant to beg it.
* PurpleProse: Osric's normal manner of speaking. Hamlet imitates and lampshades this at several points.
-->'''Osric:''' Shall I re-deliver you e'en so?\\
'''Hamlet:''' To this effect, sir; after what flourish your nature will.
* SecretKeeper: Marcellus, like Horatio, swears an oath never to tell anyone about the Ghost or Hamlet's interactions with it.
* StraightMan: The Gravedigger's companion plays this to him.
* UpperClassTwit: Osric, as Hamlet lampshades into oblivion.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Neither Marcellus nor Reynaldo is seen again after II.1. Reynaldo is sent into France, but he is hardly important enough to be PutOnABus in the first place.
* YesMan: Osric. Hamlet makes good use of this.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Put your bonnet to his right use; 'tis for the head.\\
'''Oscric:''' I thank your lordship, it is very hot.\\
'''Hamlet:''' No, believe me, 'tis very cold; the wind is northerly.\\
'''Oscric:''' It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.\\
'''Hamlet:''' [[{{Gaslighting}} But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion]].\\
'''Oscric:''' Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry,--as 'twere,--[[TheDitz I cannot tell how]]. But, my lord, his majesty bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager on your head: sir, this is the matter,--\\
'''Hamlet:''' I beseech you, remember--''[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat]''\\
'''Oscric:''' Nay, good my lord; for mine ease, in good faith.