->''"To be or not to be . . . "''

''Hamlet'' is one of [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare's]] best known plays and certainly his [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic most over-analyzed]]. It is one of the most influential works of literature ever written.

Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, whose uncle Claudius has ascended the throne after Hamlet's own father mysteriously passed away. Hamlet receives evidence that Claudius [[TheKingslayer murdered the late king]] to [[TheUsurper seize power]], and is commanded to exact {{Revenge}}, choosing to cover his behavior by [[ObfuscatingInsanity faking insanity]]. As the play progresses, however, it becomes obvious that Hamlet is highly reluctant to follow through with the murder . . . and ambiguous as to how much of his madness is actually fake. Complicating matters are a number of other characters: Ophelia, the sometime object of Hamlet's affections; Polonius, Ophelia's father and Claudius's meddling royal chancellor; Gertrude, Hamlet's mother who has now married her brother-in-law; [[TheDividual Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]], Hamlet's college buddies now conscripted to spy on him; and Claudius himself, who is well aware that Hamlet is Denmark's rightful heir [[note]]Typical rules of primogeniture say that the king's son takes the throne after him, even if the king has a brother, although we do hear Dennmark's monarchy is theoretically elective in the play[[/note]] and has started scheming to remove him from the picture.

Shakespeare did not invent the story of Hamlet's quest to bring the murderer of his father to justice. The earliest surviving "record" is in the twelfth-century ''Literature/GestaDanorum'' ("Deeds of the Danes"), by Saxo Grammaticus, wherein Hamlet--or Amleth (Amlóði), as he's called in that version--is shown as a legendary figure who succeeds in destroying his uncle and becoming king, only to die in a later battle. The story was abbreviated and amended numerous times and had been presented as a play in English more than once when Shakespeare decided to tackle the story. By that time it had been changed almost beyond recognition--Hamlet's mother, who had originally been forced to marry her brother-in-law, was now an accessory to his usurpation of the throne, while Hamlet had been turned into a Christian and aged a number of years.

But it is hardly the plot that has enraptured the play's generations of admirers. ''Hamlet'' devotees are generally drawn to either the language--which is vibrant even by Shakespearean standards--with its manifold layers of meaning and the staggering number of alternate readings it can support, or to the character of Hamlet himself, who often seems simply too big for the play he inhabits. The infinite [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory interpretations]], motivations, and traits readers and critics have ascribed to Hamlet is a testament to his universality as a character, and it is this universality, far more than any deconstructed revenge plot, that has captivated audiences for four hundred years.

Even more than is usual for Shakespeare, ''Hamlet'' is filled with expressions that have [[OlderThanTheyThink become clichés]]; examples include "HoistByHisOwnPetard," "The lady doth protest too much," "Frailty, thy name is woman," and "The play's the thing". Oh, and something about whether or not to be that was really difficult to [[InTheOriginalKlingon translate into Klingon]]. And that's not to mention many subtler {{neologism}}s that have wormed their way into everyday English.

Since ''Hamlet'' is almost always performed with cuts (as Shakespeare's longest play, performing the whole thing usually takes almost four hours), arguably ''every'' production is an adaptation, some even switching out scenes for pacing purposes (like the 2010 version did as explained [[http://blip.tv/file/4634599 here]] and [[http://blip.tv/file/4631899 here.]] Sometimes the basic idea is what's adapted, more or less faithfully, and little or none of the original language is used.


[[folder:Notable productions]]
* c.1605--the presumed premiere at the Globe Theatre, London, with Richard Burbage playing the lead. The first ''recorded'' production was not for a number of years.
* A two-minute 1900 film, ''Le Duel de Hamlet'', showed the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, and may be the first filmed adaptation of the play. As this production starred Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, this means the first movie Hamlet was a {{Gender Flip}}ped version.
* The 1911-12 Moscow Art Theatre production, seeing the play as a symbolist melodrama with a very plain set.
* Asta Nielsen made her own version in the 20s, based off of a book called "The Secret of Hamlet", where Hamlet was a SweetPollyOliver raised to secure her mother's position on the throne.
* A 1948 film starring and directed by Creator/LaurenceOlivier, which remains the only filmed Shakespeare to win the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for Best Picture. This is a heavily cut version (excluding such characters as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern entirely), with a murky Gothic aesthetic, and a prominent Freudian leaning (it carries PlayingGertrude to extremes--the actress playing Gertrude was eleven years ''younger'' than Olivier!)
* A 1961 German made-for-TV production starring Maximillian Schell as Hamlet (with Ricardo Montalban dubbing Claudius into English). Schell had played the role on stage to considerable acclaim; something was obviously lost in translation. This version was featured on ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' and information on that episode can be found [[Recap/MysteryScienceTheater3000S10E09Hamlet here]].
* A 1964 Russian film directed by Grigori Kozintsev, starring Innokenty Smoktunovsky and scored by Dmitri Shostakovich. It uses SceneryPorn to "oust period stylization and express the essentials"; it's also more political than Olivier's version, probably reflecting its post-UsefulNotes/JosephStalin production. Despite lacking original text and being heavily truncated it was critically very well-received, but it's never been televised in the United States.
* A 1964 BBC production filmed on-location in Elsinore, and featuring Creator/ChristopherPlummer as Hamlet, Creator/MichaelCaine as Horatio, Robert Shaw as Claudius, and Creator/DonaldSutherland as Fortinbras.
* A 1980 BBC production starring Creator/DerekJacobi and directed by Rodney Bennett. This is an almost full-text production, made as part of the BBC's complete Shakespeare series. Also notable for featuring Creator/PatrickStewart as Claudius and Lalla Ward (Romana #2 in ''Series/DoctorWho'') as Ophelia.
* A 1990 film starring Creator/MelGibson and directed by Franco Zefirelli. This is heavily cut and rearranged and probably even more Freudian than the Olivier version. However, Gibson was praised for playing a youthful, energetic Hamlet.
* Another 1990 version is a filmed version of the play starring Kevin Kline, mostly notable for featuring minimal sets and modern costuming.
* A 1996 film starring and directed by Creator/KennethBranagh. This is a highly lavish, cinematic full-text[[note]]with the exception of a few transposed lines, and thus clocking in at around 246 minutes long[[/note]] version set in the 1800s, which includes Creator/BrianBlessed (as the Ghost) and a FallingChandelierOfDoom. With Creator/KateWinslet as Ophelia. Oh, and Creator/RobinWilliams as Osric, and Billy Crystal as the gravedigger.[[note]]The AllStarCast also includes Julie Christie as Gertrude, Creator/JackLemmon as Marcellus, Creator/CharltonHeston as the King of the play, Creator/RichardAttenborough as the English Ambassador, and Dame Creator/JudiDench and Sir John Gielgud as Hecuba and Priam of Troy.[[/note]] It's essentially ''Hamlet'' as an EpicMovie. Not financially successful, but critically acclaimed with some even calling it the greatest onscreen adaptation of Shakespeare. Was nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (which led to a lot of jokes in theatrical circles on who ''technically'' wrote the script). This adaptation is significant among film buffs for being the last visual narrative production shot entirely on 70 millimeter film for 16 years, before the the 2012 film ''Film/TheMaster''.
* A 2000 film directed by Michael Almereyda and starring Ethan Hawke. [[SettingUpdate Claudius is the CEO of Denmark Corp., and Hamlet is a disaffected film student]]. The characters still use the Shakespearean text despite the SettingUpdate.
* Director Gregory Doran's 2008 production for the Creator/RoyalShakespeareCompany had Creator/DavidTennant as Hamlet and Creator/PatrickStewart as Claudius. A film version was released in 2010, [[http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/hamlet-full-episode/980// and can be seen here legally for free in the United States]].
* A 2015 production at the Barbican Theatre, directed by Lyndsey Turner and starring Creator/BenedictCumberbatch.

[[folder:Notable Adaptations]]
* The German play ''[[http://members.efn.org/~dredmond/Hamletmachine.PDF Hamletmaschine]]'' by Heiner Müller, a celebrated surrealist adaptation of ''Hamlet'' which still enjoys frequent performances 30 years after it was written... despite being ''completely'' incomprehensible.
* A POVSequel play called ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''. It was later made into a film with Creator/GaryOldman and Creator/TimRoth.
* Several [[EverythingIsOnline weird internet versions]], including:
** [[http://versificator.net/hamlet/ The text adventure]].
** [[http://stickfigurehamlet.com/ The stick figure version]]
** [[http://web.archive.org/web/20080301101130/http://amethyst-angel.com/hamlet_eng.htm The Manga version]] --Currently incomplete (but up to Act III) and starring characters from the anime ''{{LightNovel/Slayers}}''.
** ''[[http://www.adventuregamers.com/newsitem.php?id=1970 Gamelet]]'', an in-production video game with a YouWillBeBeethoven premise.
** [[http://www.angelfire.com/art2/antwerplettuce/hamlet.html The Facebook news feed edition]].
** The Website/NicoNicoDouga medley [[http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm9401296 techo-musical version]].
** [[http://users.elite.net/lkfaunt/DJHamlet.html The Dick and Jane version]].
** [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4756599/1/Luigi The Mario Bros. version]].
** [[http://ladysmaragdina.tumblr.com/post/17869926397/an-unweeded-garden-the-worst-hamlet-essays "An Unweeded Garden"]], an essay on Hamlet compiled over sixteen years from errors in student essays.
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'' is a rather loose adaptation by Creator/{{Disney}}. Minus the DownerEnding and KillEmAll, obviously.
* The play ''I Hate Hamlet'' in which a TV star has to play Hamlet on stage but is unsure. So he gets help from the ghost of one of the greatest Hamlets, Creator/JohnBarrymore.
* The {{wuxia}} film ''Film/LegendOfTheBlackScorpion'', which is basically Hamlet [-IN FEUDAL CHINA!-] The most interesting difference is that the Gertrude stand-in is the stepmother of the Hamlet stand-in, and is actually the woman he was in love with before his father stole her away. She's also a lot more of a MagnificentBastard.
* The 1983 [[Series/{{SCTV}} Bob and Doug MacKenzie]] adventure ''Film/StrangeBrew''. Creator/MaxVonSydow has taken control of Elsinore Brewery after killing his brother. Hamlet is actually [[GenderFlip a girl]]. Bob and Doug are essentially good-guy versions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Oh, and there's a horde of {{Mind Control}}led hockey players, one of whom is Horatio. [[CanadaEh It's Canadian. Don't ask]].
* An expansion of the {{MMORPG}} ''VideoGame/{{Mabinogi}}'' is switching from adapting Myth/CelticMythology to this. Whether it's gonna be one major patch or a series remains to be seen. It is now live on both Korean and NA servers. Still no word on whether or not it's a series or a patch, [[spoiler:but the Myth/CelticMythology is still in force near the end of the Hamlet storyline]].
* ''The Klingon Hamlet'', a translation of the play into Klingon with faux-scholarly apparatus pointing out supposed evidence that the Klingon version is the original. Created by some fans after a line in ''Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry'' claimed that Shakespeare's plays were actually the work of a Klingon.
* Parodied in ''Film/LastActionHero'', casting Arnie as Hamlet and turning him into a TheAhnold. HilarityEnsues.
* The 1994 film ''Prince of Jutland'' (AKA ''Royal Deceit'') is a mashup of Shakespeare's ''Hamlet'' and the original Saxo Grammaticus tale, set in [[HornyVikings Viking-age]] Denmark and starring Creator/ChristianBale as Amled. Opinion is divided on whether it's SoBadItsGood or SoOKItsAverage.
* ''Film/Hamlet2'', a 2008 film about creating a sequel to ''Hamlet''.
* A poorly received 2008 novella by Creator/OrsonScottCard where it turns out that Old King Hamlet was a [[spoiler:[[DepravedHomosexual pedophile and raped most of the male cast]], [[RapeAndSwitch turning them all into homosexuals and pedophiles]]. Also he came back as a spirit in order to make Hamlet do evil things so that he can rape him in hell for eternity]].
* ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'' is another loose adaptation, set in modern day with an outlaw biker gang.
* Scott G. F. Bailey's novel ''The Astrologer'' updates the action to the court of Christian IV in seventeenth-century Denmark.
* [[Creator/RyanNorth Ryan North's]] parody ChooseYourOwnAdventure novel, ''[[Literature/ToBeOrNotToBeThatIsTheAdventure To Be Or Not To Be]]'', which was [[http://store.steampowered.com/app/324710/ also released on Steam]].
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' has a print-only book titled ''Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales'', which contains an adaptation of ''Hamlet'' with the OOTS characters filling the major roles.
* Many of the aforementioned film versions of the play, plus several others (nine total), are compared and contrasted in [[http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/51/51hamlet.php this neat little article]].
Characterization tropes are mostly located on the [[Characters/{{Hamlet}} Characters sheet]].
%% NOTE: As stated above, the character sheets are extensive. Please check them for your example before adding it here.
%% A trope may be listed on both pages, but only when it is both the defining trait of a character AND important to the overall narrative.

'''NOTE: All spoilers will be unmarked. This play is over 400 years old at this point and is available for free just about everywhere.'''
!!Examples Gross as Earth Exhort Me:
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal
-->'''Hamlet:''' Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.
* AdvantageBall: Hamlet may [[SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat (or may not)]] have MinoredInAsskicking, but he should still not be able to hold the advantage in his duel with MasterSwordsman Laertes except that the plot demands it.
* AggressiveCategorism: Inverted. Hamlet concludes that because Gertrude is morally suspect, all women are evil and weak. He proceeds to take it out on Ophelia.
-->'''Hamlet:''' [[GenderScoff Frailty, thy name is woman!]]
* AlasPoorYorick: Hamlet encounters the alleged skull of Yorick, the court jester of his childhood, prompting the prince to reflect on his mortality.
* AllDeathsFinal: Although it is shown early on to very much ''not'' be the case, this concept seems incorporated into Hamlet's worldview.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ... death,\\
The undiscovered country from whose bourn\\
No traveler returns ...
* AllThereInTheScript: Claudius is only named in the stage directions; the other characters all refer to him via sobriquets such as "the King" or "my uncle".
* AllWomenAreLustful: Hamlet's [[AggressiveCategorism tendency to universalize]] leads to this assumption. His mother was unfaithful; therefore all women (particularly his [[TheIngenue innocent admirer]] Ophelia) are lascivious [[SlutShaming whores]] with no moral compasses.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ''[to Ophelia]'' Get thee to a [[GetTheeToANunnery nunnery]], go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what [[{{Cuckold}} monsters]] you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Hamlet's moments of intense despair and violent mood swings (and, of course, his [[BecomingTheMask ambiguously]]-[[ObfuscatingInsanity fake insanity]]) have lent themselves to many attempts to diagnose him with various forms of clinical depression.
* AnachronismStew
** Hamlet attends a university that was not founded until 300 years after the play was set and is a member of a religion that hadn't yet reached Denmark.
** Claudius calls for his Swiss guards before Switzerland was a country.
* AntiEscapismAesop: Hamlet is very insistent on the futility of trying to deceive oneself that death can be avoided or ignored.
-->'''Hamlet:''' [[UsefulNotes/AlexandertheGreat Alexander]] died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?\\
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,\\
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:\\
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,\\
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
* ArchEnemy: Subverted. Hamlet likes to imagine that he and Claudius are "mighty opposites," but in reality, no one in the play[[note]]except, perhaps, [[Characters/{{Hamlet}} the Gravedigger]][[/note]] is anywhere near the intellectual equal Hamlet needs.
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: Poison is best administered through the ear. Who knew?
* AsYouKnow: Relied upon in the first two scenes especially. Used by Marcellus and Horatio to convey the atmosphere of apprehension in Denmark and the history between the kings of Denmark and Norway, and by Claudius to relate the recent death of King Hamlet and his own marriage to Gertrude.
** Subverted the first time it is invoked. Barnardo begins to recount the story of the ghost's first appearance, which everyone onstage has purportedly heard before, but he is interrupted by the actual arrival of the ghost.
* AudienceMonologue: Claudius and Ophelia both indulge in a bit of soliloquy. Hamlet wallows in it.
* AudienceSurrogate: Horatio is onstage before and after Hamlet and during most of the play's important scenes, and often reacts in-universe as the audience would.
* AuthorFilibuster: Hamlet's lecture to the players is generally regarded as Shakespeare's guide to acting.
* {{Backstory}}: The event that catalyzes the plot--the murder of King Hamlet--takes place several months before the play picks up. Most of the backstory is [[AsYouKnow exposited]] in the first two scenes.
* BattleHaltingDuel: Played with. The duel Claudius [[LetsYouAndHimFight arranges between Hamlet and Laertes]] is meant to resolve both Laertes's [[RabbleRouser peasant uprising]] and Hamlet's [[YouKilledMyFather revenge plot]] against him.
* BecomingTheMask: There has been much debate over the extent to which Hamlet is only [[ObfuscatingInsanity faking madness]] versus truly going mad.
* BigEntrance: Hamlet manages one verbally, bursting out of the bushes at Ophelia's funeral.
-->'''Hamlet:''' What is he whose grief\\
Bears such an emphasis? Whose phrase of sorrow\\
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand\\
Like wonder-wounded hearers? [[IAmTheNoun This is I,\\
Hamlet the Dane]].
* BitCharacter: There are ''loads'' of these, usually reduced in number in actual productions.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Few if any of the primary characters are indisputably virtuous, but very little in the play indicates that Claudius is anything but evil.
* BlackComedy
** Hamlet has many darkly humorous lines, especially when he's [[ObfuscatingInsanity faking insanity]].
*** "He will stay till ye come." (To those searching for Polonius' body)
*** Hamlet quips that Polonius is at a feast, "not where he eats, but where he is eaten" (by worms).
** The Gravedigger amuses his assistant--and confounds Hamlet--by joking about gallows and tombstones while digging Ophelia's grave.
--->'''Hamlet:''' What man dost thou dig it for?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' For no man, sir.\\
'''Hamlet:''' What woman then?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' For none neither.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Who is to be buried in't?\\
'''Gravedigger:''' One that ''was'' a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.
* BloodUpgrade: Justified. Hamlet and Laertes were supposed to be dueling with ''blunted'' foils, so the FirstBlood Hamlet suffers wasn't supposed to be drawn at all. Hamlet goes into a rage, [[MidfightWeaponExchange wresting the foil from Laertes]] and wounding him back with it.
* BluffingTheMurderer: Hamlet hires an acting troupe to [[ShowWithinAShow perform a play]] about a king being murdered, with a few alterations to make it more like Claudius's murder of King Hamlet, hoping Claudius will react in a manner confirming the ghost's accusation.
* BluffTheEavesdropper: Hamlet seems to realize that Polonius and possibly Claudius are listening in on his conversation with Ophelia. The direction he takes the interaction in response is . . . frankly bizarre.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Go to, I'll no more on't; [[FalseConfession it hath made me mad]]. I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
* BreadEggsBreadedEggs: Polonius is prone to this.
** A famous example:
--->'''Polonius:''' The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, [[OverlyLongGag tragical-comical-historical-pastoral]]...
** From Act II, Scene 2:
--->'''Gertrude:''' More matter, with less art.\\
'''Polonius:''' Madam, I swear I use no art at all. That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity, And pity 'tis 'tis true. A foolish figure! But farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then. And now remains that we find out the cause of this effect, or rather say the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by cause. Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
* BreakTheCutie: Ophelia is gentle, perceptive, and compassionate. Her [[DidTheyOrDidntThey sometime sweetheart]] apparently goes mad, hurls abuse at her when they meet, and kills her father. Her mind breaks, and then she dies.
* CainAndAbel: The premise. Hamlet's uncle, Claudius, murdered his brother (Hamlet's father) for the throne. But surprise! The dead king is still very much around, and he commands Hamlet to get back at Claudius for him, violently. [[ShoutOut Allusions to the Biblical Cain and Abel]] are sprinkled throughout the play.
* CaptainObvious: Several minor characters in the play find themselves playing this trope as Hamlet verbally spars with them; they revert to saying inanities because they're so vastly outmatched in wit--witty though they might be compared with almost anyone in almost any other play.
* CatchTheConscience: Hamlet hopes the [[ShowWithinAShow Mousetrap]] will catch Claudius's conscience, evoking visible guilt over his murder of the old king.
-->'''Hamlet:''' The play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
* CharactersDroppingLikeFlies: Although much less gory than Shakespeare's ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'', the deaths start in Act III . . . [[KillEmAll and don't stop]].
* ChewingTheScenery: Laertes is understandably distraught after the death of his sister, but his protestations of grief at her funeral (including actually ''jumping into her grave'') get . . . [[ExcessiveMourning melodramatic]]. Hamlet, of course, takes it as a personal slight and outdoes (mocks) him in spectacular fashion.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ’Swounds, show me what thou ’t do.\\
Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear thyself,\\
Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?\\
I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine?\\
To outface me with leaping in her grave?\\
Be buried quick with her, and so will I.\\
And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw\\
Millions of acres on us, till our ground,\\
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,\\
Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou’lt mouth,\\
I’ll rant as well as thou.
* ClearMyName: Hamlet's LastRequest is for Horatio (and us) to do this for him. Horatio goes on into the final part of the play with the mission to ClearTheirName.
-->'''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.
* TheClimax: The [[FinalBattle swordfight]] between Laertes and Hamlet, which goes wildly off the rails.
* ComfortingTheWidow: Claudius "comforted" Gertrude. It helped win him the throne. On the other hand, he does seem to genuinely love her, and lists his three motives for his murder of the old king as "My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen."
* ConspicuouslyPublicAssassination: Hamlet's revenge on Claudius ends up being this. Hell, he's dying anyway. [[TakingYouWithMe Why not?]]
* ContinuityReboot: Of the "''Ur-Hamlet''", a version of the story written a decade and a half earlier (possibly by the young Shakespeare himself) that Elizabethan audiences would have been familiar with. [[AdaptationDisplacement No copies of this version survive.]]
* TheCoronerDothProtestTooMuch: Played with. Ophelia's death is framed as an accident, but it was pretty clearly suicide.
* CountryMatters: Ophelia is upset by a dirty innuendo Hamlet has made, so he feigns ignorance and just upsets her more with his euphemistic response, "Do you think I meant '''count'''ry matters?"
* CrapsackWorld: Hamlet's castle, Elsinore, is a microcosmic version. Hamlet views Denmark--and, by extension, the whole world--as one.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Denmark’s a prison.\\
'''Rosencrantz:''' Then is the world one.\\
'''Hamlet:''' A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.
* CreatorCameo: Shakespeare is thought to have played the Ghost and the First Player.
* CurtainCamouflage: Poor Polonius should have picked a better place to hide.
* DareToBeBadass: Hamlet tries to talk himself into it in nearly every one of his soliloquies, flip-flopping between ambivalent inaction and "my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!"
* DarkerAndEdgier: Considered one of Shakespeare's darkest plays.
* DarkIsNotEvil: Our hero's [[IconicOutfit iconic black costume]].
* DeadlyEuphemism:
-->'''Horatio:''' So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz '''go to't'''.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Why, man, they did make love to this '''employment'''.
* DeadPersonConversation: At the end of Act I, Hamlet meets the ghost of his father, who commands his son to avenge his death and kill King Claudius. The ghost returns in Act III to further encourage his son.
* DeadPersonImpersonation: Hamlet worries that the ghost of his father may have in fact been a demon ''impersonating'' his father, driving him to seek further evidence of Claudius's guilt. Given that 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, Hamlet's fears may not have been unfounded.
* DeathbedConfession: Exaggerated.
-->'''Laertes:''' ''(as he lies dying from the poisoned blade)'' Lo, here I lie,\\
Never to rise again. Thy mother’s poisoned.\\
I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.
* DeathIsDramatic: Polonius's death? Eh, stabbed through a curtain, cries [[{{Narm}} "O, I am slain!,"]] not the most important character. Ophelia was pretty important, but overlooked; she gets a dramatic death ''offstage''. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Pff. ''one sentence'' after all the drama's over. Gertrude, Laertes, and Claudius were main players, so they get some good melodrama . . . [[FinalSpeech and then there's Hamlet.]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the "revenge drama" in vogue at the time.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Hamlet and Laertes reconcile . . . after each mortally wounds the other with the poisoned foil.
* DeusExMachina: Occurs offscreen between acts IV and V. Hamlet is conveniently kidnapped by pirates on his way to England, who kindly return him to Denmark just in time for the play's climax. However, several of Hamlet's lines seem to imply that he arranged the "pirate attack" himself.
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: It is left ambiguous what sort of relationship Hamlet and Ophelia have actually had. Her mad songs and some of Hamlet's lines to Polonius seem to suggest the two have had sex.
* DiedInYourArmsTonight: Hamlet usually dies with Horatio cradling him in his arms.
* 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.
--->'''Laertes:''' Let this be so;\\
His means of death, his obscure funeral--\\
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,\\
No noble rite nor formal ostentation--\\
Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,\\
That I must call't in question.
** Act V, Scene 1, contains much debate over whether Ophelia, who most likely [[SuicideBySea drowned herself]], deserves a full Christian burial (as [[SuicideIsShameful Christianity considers killing oneself more sinful than killing someone else]]). The scene starts with two gravediggers arguing over it. During the actual burial, when her brother Laertes, disappointed with the sparseness of the proceedings, asks "What ceremony else?" the priest replies that she's only getting a cemetery plot at all because the king ordered it.
* DisposingOfABody: After Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius, he hides the body surprisingly well. Claudius has a hell of a time getting him to tell where it is.
-->'''Hamlet:''' I'll lug [[LastDisrespects the guts]] into the neighbor room.
* DomesticAbuse: Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia, his former LoveInterest, toes the line. The intensity of his aggression varies between productions, but his sudden rejection, mild {{gaslighting}}, and verbal abuse contribute to her [[GoMadFromTheRevelation descent into madness]].
* DoubleEntendre:
** Ubiquitous throughout the entire play. [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-shakespeare-would-write-for-cracked-if-he-were-alive-today/ Let these guys do it instead. Scroll down to #2 ]].
--->'''Hamlet:''' Do you think I mean '''c'''o'''unt'''ry matters?
*** The 2008 RSC production made this into a Single Entendre by leaving a pause between the first and second syllables of 'country'.
* DoubleStandard: Polonius forbids his daughter to so much as spend time with Hamlet, but doesn't see much harm in spreading rumors that his son visits brothels. Ophelia doesn't buy into this, and tells her brother he'd be a hypocrite if he admonished her to be chaste and then went off and had sex himself.
* DownerEnding: Almost every single important character in the play is dead at the end, in a mass suicide/manslaughter/murder spree. It's not entirely dark, though: Hamlet achieved his goal of avenging his father and getting Claudius off the throne, and while he didn't live to take the throne himself, it's going to someone he approves of (at least in productions where Fortinbras isn't left out).
* TheDragon: Before Hamlet can ([[KillHimAlready finally]]) kill King Claudius, he must win the duel with Laertes, Claudius's newly appointed NumberTwo.
* DramaticIrony
** In Act V, Scene 2, we know that the grave and subsequent funeral are for Ophelia. Hamlet does not, until Laertes [[InternalReveal refers to his sister]].
** It abounds in the final scene, when Claudius, Laertes, and the audience know that the wine and the foil are poisoned, Hamlet and the courtiers do not, and Gertrude . . . [[DrivenToSuicide may or may not]].
* DroppingTheBombshell: Horatio tries to talk to Hamlet about the latter's deceased father. Hamlet assumes Horatio is talking about a time long past, but Horatio makes it clear that he didn't see his father before his death, he saw the ghost of Hamlet the Older the night before.
-->'''Horatio:''' My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Saw who?\\
'''Horatio:''' The king your father.\\
'''Hamlet:''' The king my father?[[note]]Hammie's shaken enough to let a pronoun error ''and'' an uncharacteristic echo slip through.[[/note]]
* DuelToTheDeath: Hamlet's [[{{Swordfight}} fencing match]] with Laertes is this, although Hamlet ([[DeathSeeker probably]]) [[DramaticIrony doesn't know it]]. Claudius needs Hamlet dead, so he arranges a swordfight between him and Laertes in which Laertes weilds an unblunted, [[PoisonedWeapons poisoned]] foil--which [[FinaglesLaw ends up getting used]] on Hamlet, Laertes, and [[HoistByTheirOwnPetard Claudius himself]]. If you're still interested in the technical outcome of the duel, we can reasonably say Hamlet won either way, since he both gained more hits against Laertes in the friendly part and died last in the deadly part--though both parties likely disqualified themselves when they started attacking each other between bouts.
* DueToTheDead: In the final scene, Fortinbras orders Hamlet be given a soldier's burial as a mark of honor.
* DysfunctionalFamily: Family relationships and loyalties are important themes of the play, and both family units shown (Gertrude/Hamlet/Claudius and Polonius/Laertes/Ophelia) are ''seriously'' screwed up in their own ways.
* EasilyForgiven: After the duel, Laertes forgives Hamlet (who is responsible for the death of everyone in his family, now including him), and Hamlet forgives Laertes (who has just poisoned him), when they remember who the real BigBad is.
-->'''Laertes:''' Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.\\
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,\\
Nor thine on me.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Heaven make thee free of it.
* ElectiveMonarchy: The Danish monarchy is apparently elective, as it also was in reality until the late 1600s (though in practice, the eldest son was pretty much always elected). This is the reason why Claudius is king instead of Hamlet himself. Hamlet describes his uncle as having "popp'd in between the election and my hopes", and later says that he foresees that "the election lights on Fortinbras" as he himself is dying (and the Danish royal line with him).
* EmotionsVsStoicism: A recurring theme, from Hamlet's "But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue" to Fortinbras's calm remark that he has "some rights of memory" prompting him to seize the throne of Denmark.[[note]]The last king ''killed his father''.[[/note]]
* EtTuBrute: Hamlet is considerably shaken after discovering that even his "excellent good friends," Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, have become Claudius's spies.
* EverybodysDeadDave: The only major named characters who survive are Horatio and Fortinbras (who is often left out). A messenger even arrives at the very end to assure you that, yes, even Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead.
* ExactEavesdropping: Claudius and Polonius try to engineer this, planting Ophelia in Hamlet's path and hiding nearby to listen in on the conversation and try to gain insight into the cause of his madness. [[BluffTheEavesdropper It doesn't work.]]
* ExcessiveMourning: Hamlet, [[OnlySaneMan the only one]] grieving normally for his father's death, is treated as though his mourning is excessive.
-->'''Claudius:''' . . . to persevere\\
In obstinate condolement is a course\\
Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis [[MenDontCry unmanly]] grief.
* ExtremeMeleeRevenge: Hamlet may take a while to get around to killing Claudius, but once he does, he goes for it. He wounds him (or, in most productions, stabs him) with a poisoned foil; then he holds the same foil on him and forces him to drink what's left of the poisoned wine. And in some productions he goes ahead and stabs him again [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill for good measure]].
* FinalSpeech: Whereas the poisoned blade kills Laertes fairly quickly, it allows Hamlet time to start a final speech, abort it, foil Horatio's [[TogetherInDeath suicide attempt]], implore Horatio and the audience to tell his story, get interrupted by news of Fortinbras's arrival, endorse Fortinbras as the next king, and finish things off with some killer FamousLastWords:
-->'''Hamlet:''' The rest is silence.
* FireAndBrimstoneHell: The Ghost of Hamlet's father reveals that as his punishment in the afterlife, he must spend the days in "sulf'rous and tormenting flames" (by night, he walks as a ghost). The Ghost's prison is not Hell, but Purgatory, as (he says) his punishment will last (only) until his earthly crimes "are burnt and purged away".
* FleetingDemographic: Determining, of all things, the setting: Shakespeare probably chose the Hamlet story as an appeal to [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart James I's]] theater-loving queen -- Anne of Denmark.
* FlowerMotifs: One of the most famous examples in the Western canon occurs during Ophelia's mad scene, when she distributes real or imaginary flowers to the assembled cast.
-->'''Ophelia:''' There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that's for thoughts. ''[...]'' There's fennel for you, and columbines; there's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died.
** Interpretations of each flower's significance vary between scholars, but some include:
*** Rosemary = memory
*** Pansy = thought
*** Fennel = flattery
*** Columbine = male adultery
*** Rue = regret, female adultery. Notably, rue is also a powerful poison and abortifacient, which might be the way Ophelia wears it "with a difference."
*** Daisy = innocence
*** Violet = faithfulness
* ForgedLetter: Hamlet, escorted to England accompanied (i.e. guarded) by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, replaces the letter from Claudius instructing Hamlet's execution with one [[PleaseShootTheMessenger condemning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead]].
* ForYourOwnGood: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern agree to spy on Hamlet because they are genuinely concerned for his mental stability.
* FriendsAreChosenFamilyArent: Hamlet is a thoughtful, academic fellow who has friends both close and distant and a developing romance with a girl who has even stronger feelings for him. Unfortunately, his uncle turns out to have murdered his father and married his mother to usurp the throne that should be Hamlet's.
* {{Gaslighting}}
** Hamlet uses this on Ophelia with unclear intentions.
--->'''Hamlet:''' I did love you once.\\
'''Ophelia:''' Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.\\
'''Hamlet:''' You should not have believed me . . . I loved you not.\\
'''Ophelia:''' I was the more deceived.
** Hamlet later deploys it against Osric, when it's PlayedForLaughs.
---> '''Hamlet:''' Put your bonnet to its 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.[[note]]If we recall his earlier confession, "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw," this line reveals that he is subtly mocking himself as well as Osric.[[/note]]\\
'''Osric:''' It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.\\
'''Hamlet:''' But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion.\\
'''Osric:''' Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as ’twere—-I cannot tell how.
* GentleTouchVsFirmHand: The way Claudius and Gertrude work together. 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).
* GenderScoff
-->'''Hamlet:''' Frailty, thy name is woman!
* GetTheeToANunnery: The play contains many double entendres that go over the heads of modern audiences; among the best known are the "nunnery" and the "fishmonger" (slang for a brothel and a pimp, respectively).
* GetYourMindOutOfTheGutter: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Sigh.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
* GiveMyRegardsInTheNextWorld: In Act IV, Scene 3 when King Claudius is looking for Polonius' body:
-->'''Claudius:''' Where is Polonius?\\
'''Hamlet:''' In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him in [[{{Hell}} the other place]] yourself.
* TheGlovesComeOff: In the [[FinalBattle final duel]]. The rules of fencing are quickly abandoned once Hamlet realizes Laertes is wielding an unblunted foil.
* GoLookAtTheDistraction: Hamlet sends Polonius and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern to "Bid the players make haste" so that he can talk with Horatio in private.
* GoodNightSweetPrince: Horatio when Hamlet dies.
-->'''Horatio:''' Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,\\
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
* GuessWhoImMarrying: The actual reveal happens before the play starts, so the story is about the fallout from this trope.
* HappilyMarried: Claudius and Gertrude, ironically. They work well together, show genuine concern for each other's wellbeing, and apparently have a more-than-healthy sex life.
* HeavenAbove: The characters follow the tradition of their religion in regarding Heaven and God as being "above"--such as when Claudius laments that his "offense is rank, / It smells to Heaven" and later that there is "not rain enough in the sweet heavens" to wash [[OutDamnedSpot the metaphorical blood]] off his hands.
* HeelFaithTurn: Subverted. Claudius 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.
* TheHeroDies: But [[EverybodysDeadDave he's not special]].
* HeroicLineage: King Hamlet was a warrior-hero and seems to assume his son will take up the mantle, if his request for revenge is any indication. Hamlet is mortified by his seeming inability to live up to the lineage.
-->'''Hamlet:''' ... Yet I,\\
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal peak\\
Like john-o-dreams, unpregnant of my cause\\
And can say nothing. No, not for a king\\
Upon whose property and most dear life\\
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
* HeroicVow: Hamlet (completely unprompted) swears a solemn oath to remember the ghost and his final words, "adieu, adieu, [[LiteralMinded remember me]]." [[IdiotBall Unfortunately]], he doesn't vow to do anything else the ghost commanded, like leave Gertrude out of it, preserve his own mind, or ''actually carry out his revenge on Claudius''.
* HiddenDepths: Hamlet consists of nothing else.
* HobbesWasRight: Hamlet is purportedly loved by the common people, a fact which worries Claudius constantly, but his influence was apparently not enough to uphold his right to the throne--several lines suggest that the king of Denmark is supposed to be chosen by election, but that does not seem to be how Claudius seized power. [[RabbleRouser Laertes]]'s [[TheCoup peasant uprising]] is easily stymied by Claudius, and it is only the introduction of a foreign military power and new dictator that seems to finally restore order to turbulent Denmark.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard
** Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [[PleaseShootTheMessenger deliver their own death warrant]], not realising that Hamlet altered the document before his escape by replacing his name with theirs. Hamlet remarks:
--->'tis the sport to have the engineer\\
Hoist with his own petard
** Claudius and Laertes are killed by their own poison.
--->'''Laertes:''' Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric,\\
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
* HoneyTrap: Considerably downplayed from the source material, where the Ophelia equivalent was actually sent to have sex with Hamlet, but Polonius's intention to "loose my daughter to him" carries the same connotations.
* HurricaneOfAphorisms: Polonius's parting words to his son Laertes, the famous "to thing own self be true" speech.
* HypocriticalHumor: Polonius's main character trait.
** He delivers the well-known line "brevity is the soul of wit"--in the middle of a lengthy diatribe--despite being the least brief and least original character in the play. He later complains that the Player King's speech is "too long."
** In general, one can assume that any advice given by Polonius will be advice he does not follow himself.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: A meta reading of Hamlet's 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: The skull of Yorick[[note]]which is [[RuleOfSymbolism not actually the skull of Yorick]][[/note]] disinterred by the Gravedigger, which Hamlet [[AlasPoorYorick has a little chat with]]. Most advertisements and amateur depictions feature the skull in some way.
* IconicOutfit: Our hero is infamous for his exclusively black outfits, [[HiddenDepths which he actually wears in mourning for his father]].
* IdiotBall: One explanation for why Hamlet enters into a fencing match with Laertes (a MasterSwordsman who loathes him for killing his family) at the behest of Claudius (who has already tried to have him assassinated). There are [[DeathSeeker alternative implications]], however.
* IgnoredEpiphany: Claudius comes to realize what evil he's done, but keeps right on being evil.
-->'''Claudius:''' My words fly up: my thoughts remain below.\\
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
* IncestIsRelative: At the time of the setting, marrying your late husband's brother (ala Gertrude) would have been considered incest. The rest of the Danish court doesn't seem to care, but Hamlet is pretty squicked at the idea of his mother and his uncle doing the nasty.
* IndyPloy: Hamlet's revenge strategy, arguably. Aside from the Mousetrap scheme and his intention to [[ObfuscatingInsanity fake insanity]], he shares very little of his actual plan with the audience and often appears to be making things up on the fly.
* InfectiousInsanity: A recurring theme. Madness is consistently referred to with the same terminology as disease, and Hamlet's (probably) fake insanity communicates itself to Ophelia in the form of very real madness. In Shakespeare's day, there was some doubt as to whether madness might actually be a communicable disease--likely why Gertrude is so reluctant to meet with Ophelia when she requests it.
* InfoDrop: By the way, Hamlet got taken prisoner by pirates. But now on to more important matters . . .
* InnocentInnuendo: Ophelia and Laertes, brother and sister, admonish each other to remain chaste. They probably don't mean to get as graphic as they do. Ophelia's going to keep her lock to herself, not open up her chaste treasure to Hamlet's unmastered importunity, while Laertes will keep his key to himself.
* InsanityDefense: Played for all the creep-factor it's worth.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Give me your pardon, sir: I've done you wrong;\\
But pardon't, as you are a gentleman.\\
This presence knows,\\
And you must needs have heard, how I am punished\\
With sore distraction. What I have done,\\
That might your nature, honour, and exception\\
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.\\
Was't Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet:\\
If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,\\
And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,\\
[[NeverMyFault Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it]].\\
Who does it, then? His madness: if't be so,\\
Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged;\\
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
* InternalReveal
** Hamlet discovers that he has stabbed the concealed Polonius, not Claudius.
** During the funeral, when Laertes refers to his sister.
--->'''Hamlet:''' What, the fair Ophelia!
* {{Irony}}: In a LongList to Ophelia about all the things he hates about women, Hamlet says he dislikes women pretending not to know things in front of men. Ophelia often has to resort to pretending to know nothing to try and pacify Hamlet or in an attempt to avoid further humiliation such as in Act III, Scene 2 when he makes crude jokes in front of the whole court. Ashamed, Ophelia says, "I think nothing" which instead fuels more lewd comments ("nothing" was an Elizabethan euphemism for genitalia). The irony appears lost on Hamlet.
* ItGetsEasier: Discussed in the graveyard scene. Hamlet asks what kind of cold-blooded man could sing while digging graves, to which Horatio calmly replies "Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness."
* KarmaHoudini: Discussed when Hamlet considers murdering Claudius while Claudius is praying, which Hamlet worries would send him (Claudius) to Heaven. Subverted when, after Hamlet departs, Claudius reveals that he was not actually praying ("Words without thoughts never to Heaven go"), so Hamlet's hesitation was moot.
* KillEmAll: The play has become famous for killing off all the major characters except Horatio. First Polonius, ([[MurderByMistake mistaken for Claudius]] and stabbed through a curtain), then Ophelia ([[GoMadFromTheRevelation goes mad]] and drowns, likely in a suicide), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ([[OffWithHisHead beheaded by the English king]] at [[PleaseShootTheMessenger Hamlet's command]]), Gertrude (drinks [[TamperingWithFoodAndDrink poisoned wine]] [[MurderByMistake meant for Hamlet]]), Laertes (killed by the [[PoisonedWeapons poisoned blade]] [[MurderByMistake meant for Hamlet]]), Claudius ([[KillHimAlready finally]]), and Hamlet himself (nicked by the poisoned blade).
* KillHimAlready: A main source of dramatic tension is Hamlet's reluctance to off his EvilUncle, Claudius.
* KingIncognito: When Hamlet returns from England, he runs into a gravedigger on the castle grounds who apparently does not recognize him, and they have a conversation in which Hamlet asks questions about himself, pretending unfamiliarity with the case of the mad prince of Denmark (though it seems to be more for fun than to try to gauge the common people's opinion of him). Whether the Gravedigger ''actually'' doesn't recognize him is open to interpretation, though it stretches [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief WSD]] somewhat that the man who has been sexton at Elsinore Hamlet's entire life (and who remembers the length of his employment specifically by that fact) would fail to recognize the prince, who usually sports only a PaperThinDisguise at best.
* LastDisrespects: Hamlet kills Polonius accidentally, thinking he's someone else. But this is the prince of Denmark, and we can count on him to speak a suitable eulogy, right? Right?
-->'''Hamlet:''' Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for thy better.\\\
'''Hamlet:''' ''[later]'' Indeed this counsellor\\
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,\\
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
* LapPillow: Hamlet with Ophelia when they're watching the play. It gives him the opportunity to use a string of {{Double Entendre}}s.
* TheLastDance[=/=]TakingYouWithMe: Hamlet learns he has been poisoned and has minutes to live. Only then does he finally kill Claudius--by first stabbing him with the poisoned blade, then forcing him to drink poisoned wine.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall:
** In Act III, Hamlet says "my father died within these two hours," seemingly to draw attention to how short a time it has actually been. But how long has the play been going on at this point?
** Hamlet's conversations with the Players offer plenty of opportunities to comment on the theatre and stagecraft without explicitly acknowledging that they are characters on a stage.
** As Hamlet lies dying, he ostensibly addresses the courtiers:
--->'''Hamlet:''' You that look pale and tremble at this chance,\\
That are but mutes or ''audience'' to this ''act'' . . .
* LetsYouAndHimFight: Hamlet and Laertes [[NotSoDifferent both want to avenge their fathers on Claudius]]. Instead, Claudius plays them against each other, arranging a duel between them. [[HoistByTheirOwnPetard it doesn't go quite as planned.]]
* LocalReference: The Gravedigger says that Hamlet has been sent to England to cure his madness, and if it doesn't work nobody will notice since [[TakeThatAudience everyone there is mad anyway]].
* LoveLetter: Hamlet has written quite a few to Ophelia. Polonius [[AmazinglyEmbarrassingParents reads one aloud to the King and Queen]], and Ophelia later tries to return the lot to Hamlet, at which he [[{{Gaslighting}} denies ever writing them]].
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Polonius is convinced Hamlet is mad with love for Ophelia. The King and Queen (and Ophelia) are . . . less sure.
* TheLowMiddleAges: Technically set in this era.
* MakeUpIsEvil: One charge Hamlet brings against Ophelia.
-->'''Hamlet:''' I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.
** His later speech to the (alleged) skull of Yorick suggests he resents makeup as simply one of many masks with which people fool themselves that they will never age nor die:
--->'''Hamlet:''' Now get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come.
* MathematiciansAnswer: Polonius attempts to get some information on Hamlet to report back to the king. Hamlet gives the most obvious and unhelpful answers he can.
-->'''Polonius:''' What do you read, my lord?\\
'''Hamlet:''' Words, words, words.
* MenDontCry
** Claudius calls Hamlet's supposed ExcessiveMourning "unmanly grief."
** Laertes is ashamed of crying over his sister's death.
--->'''Laertes:''' I forbid my tears: but yet\\
It is our trick; nature her custom holds,\\
Let shame say what it will: when these are gone,\\
The woman will be out.
** Hamlet, however, admires characters who are able to shed TenderTears, an expression of grief he cannot manage himself.
* MidfightWeaponExchange: Happens in the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, meaning they are both mortally wounded with the [[PoisonedWeapons poisoned blade]].
* MissingMom: Laertes and Ophelia's mother is never mentioned; they seem to form a nice little DysfunctionalFamily with Polonius alone.
* TheMole: Claudius brings Hamlet's college buddies, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to Elsinore to spy on Hamlet for him. Hamlet sees through it almost immediately and begins to FeedTheMole . . . probably. He's not exactly being forthcoming with us, either, so for all we know he could be telling them the truth.
* MostWritersAreWriters: Hamlet is obsessed with words and the craft of writing, and he has a ''lot'' of opinions about the right and wrong ways to act.
* MultilayerFacade: Is Hamlet sane, faking insanity? Or is he insane faking sanity faking insanity?
* MurderByMistake
** Hamlet stabs Polonius through a curtain, mistaking him for Claudius.
--->'''Gertrude:''' O me, what hast thou done?\\
'''Hamlet:''' [[{{Bathos}} Nay, I know not:\\
Is it the king?]]
** The poisoned wine and poisoned sword Claudius prepares for Hamlet [[PoisonedChaliceSwitcheroo end up]] [[MidfightWeaponExchange killing]] Gertude and Laertes, respectively.
* MySisterIsOffLimits: Laertes does ''not'' want Hamlet seeing Ophelia. [[JerkassHasAPoint As it turns out, he was right to worry.]]
* MythologyGag: After seeing King Hamlet's ghost, Horatio remarks that similarly strange things happened [[Theatre/JuliusCaesar in the days leading up to Julius Caesar's assassination]]. Later, Polonius tells Hamlet that [[ActorAllusion he once played Julius Caesar at university]].
* NarrativeFiligree: It's a revenge tragedy . . . In which a man instructs his servant at length on the proper way to spy on his son, a group of traveling players drops by and performs a play, the hero's college buddies show up to spy on him, the hero plays the recorder, many messengers are sent to and from Norway, the hero gets exiled to England, pirates attack on the way, many superfluous letters are read onscreen, a girl distributes flowers to the Danish court, an auxiliary character attempts to overthrow the king for his ''own'' revenge plot, two gravediggers discuss the definition and implications of suicide, the hero and his buddy spend ''116 straight lines'' mocking an unnecessarily detailed courtier, and a conquering army arrives at the end to clean up the corpses.
* NeverGotToSayGoodbye: Hamlet at Ophelia's funeral, after spending most of the play tormenting her and implying she was a slut. It's only after Laertes [[ExcessiveMourning jumps into his sister's grave]] that Hamlet [[AnguishedDeclarationOfLove declares his love]] for Ophelia, when she's dead and unable to hear him.
-->'''Hamlet:''' I loved Ophelia! Forty thousand brothers\\
Could not, with all their quantity of love,\\
Make up my sum!
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: When Hamlet finally brings himself to act, he mistakenly stabs and kills Polonius, setting off the DisasterDominoes.
* NoYou: When Gertrude starts to lecture her son.
-->'''Queen Gertrude:''' Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Mother, you have my father much offended.
* ObfuscatingInsanity: Hamlet fakes insanity as part of his plot to kill Claudius and avenge his father. Or hell, maybe he is actually insane. [[MultilayerFacade Or possibly he's faking insanity and is actually insane]].
* OffWithHisHead: The reason Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead. Claudius sends them to England with Hamlet, bearing an order for the English king to have Hamlet decapitated--but Hamlet finds the letter and replaces it with one [[PleaseShootTheMessenger ordering his escorts' death]] instead. They do not return to Elsinore with Hamlet, but a messenger arrives from England in the final scene to announce that [[BusCrash yes, they have been beheaded]].
* OneMarioLimit: If a character in a newer work is named Hamlet, it's almost definitely a ShoutOut.
* OneWayTrip: One interpretation of V.2. The audience cannot accept that Hamlet would fail to recognize the duel with Laertes (who hates him), arranged by Claudius (who wants him dead), as the obvious death trap it is. His resigned detachment from the situation seems to imply that he is prepared to die--as long as he takes Claudius down first.
* OutDamnedSpot
-->'''Claudius:''' What if this cursèd hand\\
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood?\\
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens\\
To wash it white as snow?
* ParalysisByAnalysis: This trope is at the core of the play--Hamlet's FatalFlaw, some say. 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.
* ParentalBetrayal: Hamlet sees Gertrude's "[[{{Understatement}} o'erhasty]] marriage" as this.
* PassiveAggressiveKombat: If a character says something to another that outwardly appears thoughtful, compassionate, and constructive, chances are that it's actually insulting, emasculating, and harmful when you read between the lines. Especially prevalent in Hamlet's lines to Polonius:
-->'''Polonius:''' I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Slanders, sir, for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams.[[note]]In this last bit, Hamlet basically says Polonius has a flabby ass.[[/note]]
* PerfectPoison: The "hebona" with which Claudius poisoned King Hamlet, the poison-pearl Claudius drops in Hamlet's wine, and the poison with which Laertes annoints his sword.
-->'''Laertes:''' I bought an unction of a mountebank\\
So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,\\
Where it draws blood no cataplasm\\
. . . can save the thing from death\\
That is but scratched withal.
* PlatonicDeclarationOfLove: . . . [[HoYay Probably?]]
-->'''Hamlet:''' ''[to Horatio]'' Dost thou hear?\\
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice\\
And could of men distinguish, her election\\
Hath sealed thee for herself.\\
. . . Give me that man\\
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him\\
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,\\
As I do thee.--[[ThatDidntHappen Something too much of this]] . . .
* PleaseShootTheMessenger: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern travel to England with Hamlet to deliver a letter by King Claudius which orders Hamlet's execution (of which the two are probably unaware). To their misfortune, Hamlet secretly finds the letter and replaces it with one ordering the execution of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead. They deliver the letter, and are [[OffWithHisHead decapitated]].
* PoisonIsEvil: Poison is BigBad Claudius's weapon of choice.
* PoisonedWeapons: Claudius proposes that Laertes duel Hamlet with an unblunted foil in the hope of killing him. Laertes goes one step farther by poisoning the tip of the blade so that any cut will be fatal. It backfires when Hamlet gets ahold of the poisoned weapon and stabs both Laertes and Claudius.
* PosthumousCharacter: King Hamlet, whose [[CainAndAbel murder by his brother]] prior to the beginning sets the story in motion. In this case, he does make it fully onscreen [[DeadPersonConversation as a ghost]].
* ThePowerOfActing: Hamlet is amazed by the First Player's rendition of "Aeneas' Tale to Dido." The piece itself is a blatant StylisticSuck, but the Player manages to make it art with TenderTears. This ends up plunging Hamlet into a depressive episode, shaming him for being unable to even ''act'' his grief for his father.
* PreAsskickingOneLiner: Before Hamlet and Laertes wrestle over Ophelia's corpse.
-->'''Laertes''' The Devil take thy soul!
* PreMortemOneLiner: Hamlet gets two before he ''finally'' kills Claudius.
** Before stabbing Claudius with a [[PoisonedWeapons poisoned blade]]:
--->'''Hamlet:''' Then, venom, to thy work. ''[stabs him]''
** Except [[ExtremeMeleeRevenge that's not enough]]. So he forces him to drink the poisoned wine [[HoistByTheirOwnPetard he (Claudius) prepared]]:
--->'''Hamlet:''' Here, thou incestuous, murd’rous, damnèd Dane,\\
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?\\
Follow my mother.
* {{Prequel}}: The [[ShowWithinAShow Mousetrap and Dumb Show]] function as this, oddly.
* PretextForWar: The "little patch of ground / That hath no profit in it but the name" that Hamlet sees Fortinbras leading his forces to defend. Whether the intended war is with Poland or Denmark is less clear.
* ProtagonistCenteredMorality: When asked about the fact that he knowingly sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths, Hamlet replies, "they are not near my conscience".
* ProtagonistTitle: Usually just known as ''Hamlet'' these days, though it's sometimes still published as ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark''.
* PubliclyDiscussingTheSecret: Claudius may be discussing it [[AudienceMonologue with us]], but he's still discussing it, and it's still stupid.
* PurpleProse: Yeah yeah, they speak in ''verse'', not prose, but these unnecessarily flowery descriptions exceed the Shakespearean norm by enough to merit this trope.
** Why say "this same time last night" when you ''could'' say . . .
--->'''Barnardo:''' Last night of all,\\
When yond same star that's westward from the pole\\
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven\\
Where now it burns ...
** And why call it "the moon" when you could call it . . .
--->'''Horatio:''' the moist star,\\
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands ...
* This is also [[TheDandy Osric]]'s normal mode of speech--which Hamlet mocks endlessly.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Sir, his ''definement'' suffers no ''perdition'' in you; though, I know, to divide him ''inventorially'' would ''dizzy the arithmetic of memory'', and yet but yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the ''verity'' of ''extolment'', I take him to be a soul of great article; and his ''infusion'' of such ''dearth'' and ''rareness'', as, ''to make true diction of him'', his ''semblable'' is his mirror; and who else would trace him, his ''umbrage'', nothing more.
* PyrrhicVictory: It is a {{revenge}} {{tragedy}}, after all. Hamlet succeeds in his goal of ridding the kingdom of TheUsurper and setting a better ruler on the throne,[[note]]though [[UnexpectedSuccessor it's not who we expect]][[/note]] but it costs the lives of eight people, including the entire Danish royal family and five relatively innocent collateral victims.
* RabbleRouser: When Laertes learns of his father's death, he returns to Denmark and leads an angry mob against Claudius in a [[TheCoup coup for the throne]]. The mob invades the castle, but Claudius succeeds in talking Laertes out of it. The mob is, presumably, [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse left waiting outside the throne room forever.]]
* ARealManIsAKiller: There are overtones of this. Killing Claudius is Hamlet's chance to prove himself to his father, who is himself a very manly war machine, and the constant degrading of the feminine in the play only adds to the implications.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: A concise version.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane;\\
Drink off this potion. Is thy [[{{Pun}} union]] here?
* RemarriedToTheMistress: Gertrude's marriage to Claudius is implied to have been this, since it's suggested the two were having an affair.
* {{Revenge}}: ''Hamlet'' was written in the tradition of--and [[{{Deconstruction}} in response to]]--the revenge tragedies that were popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
* RightfulKingReturns: Subverted. Hamlet's return to Elsinore in Act V ''should'' play out like this--he's the rightful heir to the throne, returning to his kingdom to confront TheUsurper who has just tried to have him assassinated, and the last thing we heard from him was "My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!"--but this being a revenge tragedy and all . . .
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Hamlet's confused revenge plot claims the lives of eight major characters--four deaths accidental, four intentional.
* RocksFallEveryoneDies: Downplayed, as four of the show's eight deaths occur before this, but the final scene sees Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius dead with almost farcical suddenness.
* RoyallyScrewedUp: Claudius's tendency towards regicide and Hamlet's ambiguous sanity could be a comment on this trope.
* RoyalWe
** Claudius alternates between "I" and "we," depending on the mood and subject matter of his speech.
** Hamlet uses it sarcastically.
--->'''Hamlet:''' ''We'' shall obey, were she ten times ''our'' mother.\\
Have you any further trade with ''us''?
* RuleOfSymbolism
** How likely is it that the Players would have brought [[MeaningfulName recorders]] with them, that they would be willing to let Hamlet borrow them at a moment's notice, that a servant would be passing by right when Hamlet needs to call for one to make his point[[note]]"Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would [[{{Pun}} play upon]] me; you would seem to know my [[{{Pun}} stops]]; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would [[{{Pun}} sound]] me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you [[DoubleSpeak make it speak]]. [[PrecisionFStrike 'Sblood]], do you think I am easier to be [[{{Pun}} played]] on than a pipe? Call me what [[{{Pun}} instrument]] you will, though you [[{{Pun}} fret]] me, yet [[BadassBoast you cannot play upon me]][[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovjeUp_AhCs ."]][[/note]] to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Who cares! It's symbolic, and it's COOL.
** The Gravedigger is disinterring a charnel house-like ''mass grave'' full of anonymous skulls. He could not possibly identify one skull as Yorick's, nor could Hamlet be so gullible as to forget this. But hey, do ''you'' wanna point that out to Shakespeare? And ruin [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4oJD0PXcOw this]]? Didn't think so.
* RulingFamilyMassacre: Inverted. The Danish royal family wipes ''itself'' out, leaving the invading Fortinbras nothing to do but stroll in and take the throne--carefully stepping over the corpses, of course.
* SelfParody: The Mousetrap and Dumb Show each walk through a slightly altered version of the play's premise.
* ShamingTheMob: When Laertes and his followers invade Elsinore.
-->'''Gertude:''' How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!\\
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
* ShapedLikeItself
-->'''Polonius:''' Your noble son is mad, mad call I it; for to define true madness, what is't but to be nothing else but mad?
* ShooOutTheClowns: Nearly all the play's more lighthearted comedy occurs ''before'' Act III, Scene 4, when [[OldWindbag Polonius]], the closest thing the show has had to a comic-relief character, is brutally stabbed [[CurtainCamouflage through a curtain]] and [[DisposingOfABody dragged across a castle once dead]]. The actual clowns, when they eventually bother to show up, are a pair of ''gravediggers''. Oh, and [[AlasPoorYorick a skull]].
* ShoutOut
** Hamlet is constantly comparing himself and everyone around him to mythological figures.
*** One of his first lines demonstrates his love for his late father and disgust for his uncle by comparing the difference between those two brothers to the difference between Hamlet himself and the [[Myth/ClassicalMythology super-strong demigod Hercules]].
---->'''Hamlet:''' But no more like my father than I to Hercules!
** When Claudius is left by himself, he laments that by killing his brother, he will share in the curse placed upon Cain, whom the Literature/BookOfGenesis describes as humanity's first murderer.
* ShowWithinAShow: Hamlet has a group of traveling players perform a revised version of ''The Murder of Gonzago,'' hoping to [[BluffingTheMurderer elicit some visible sign of]] [[CatchTheConscience guilt from Claudius]] over his murder of Hamlet's father.
* SketchySuccessor
** The late King Hamlet is considered a ruler among rulers (by his son, at least). King Claudius assassinated him to get the job and spends his reign trying to keep people from becoming suspicious and making questionable foreign policy decisions.
** Possibly inverted at the end. Hamlet prophecies the Danish crown will be passed to Fortinbras of Norway, who has successfully overthrown the Danish army and invaded Elsinore. Although Fortinbras is essentially an unknown quantity, Hamlet's endorsement of him ("He has my dying voice") and Fortinbras's respectful treatment of the Danish dead imply that he will be a better ruler than his predecessor.
* SlainInTheirSleep: Hamlet's father was murdered during his afternoon nap.
* SlutShaming: Hamlet viciously attacks Ophelia with cruel double entendres and accusations of infidelity at every opportunity. Polonius and Laertes employ it against her with less malice, suggesting she has been too "liberal" in allowing Hamlet access to her.
* SnakesAreSinister
** Claudius's cover-up for the murder of King Hamlet is that he was stung by a snake in the garden.
--->'''Ghost:''' The serpent that did sting thy father's life\\
Now wears his crown.
** Hamlet later compares his treacherous schoolfellows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to "adders fanged."
* SoundtrackDissonance: In-universe. Hamlet and Horatio come across a man digging a grave--and singing a [[SillyLoveSongs jaunty love song]].
-->'''Hamlet:''' Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?
* StandardRoyalCourt: Elsinore, the Danish castle where the play takes place.
* StallingTheSip: Mid-duel, Hamlet is given the cup of wine poisoned by Claudius. He lifts it to his mouth, alllllmost drinks . . .
-->'''Hamlet:''' I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile.
** It is up to interpretation whether he suspects or just gets extremely lucky. In the end, Gertrude drinks the wine instead, which [[HeroicSacrifice could also be intentional]].
* StealthInsult
** Hamlet's weapon of choice. Most of the people he insults don't quite get that they're being insulted. See especially Hamlet's mocking lapse into flowery, affected language when conversing with Osric, who suffers naturally from an overabundance of the same.
** Claudius to Laertes, after Laertes calms down and stops wanting to kill him.
--->'''Claudius:''' Why, now you speak\\
Like a good child and a true gentleman.
** Hamlet is narrating the events of The Mousetrap. Ophelia tells him, "You are as good as a chorus, my lord," subtly implying he is ''only'' as good as a chorus--[[{{irony}} not good enough for a major role]].
* StrongEmpireShriveledEmperor: Denmark is a powerful war nation (able to command the king of [[LocalReference England]] to do its bidding at times), largely due to the late King Hamlet's military prowess. TheUsurper, however, seems wildly inadequate for the position he now holds and spends the entire play making ''terrible'' diplomatic decisions.
* SubvertedRhymeEveryOccasion:
-->'''Hamlet:''' For thou dost know, O Damon dear,\\
This realm dismantled was\\
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here\\
A very, very -- peacock.\\
'''Horatio:''' You might have rhymed.[[note]]Horatio was expecting Hamlet to go for "ass", the obvious rhyme.[[/note]]
* SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat: Hamlet has "been in continual practise" at fencing since Laertes went to France. Even though not a word has been uttered about it until now and it directly contradicts Hamlet's earlier assertion that he has "forgone all customs of exercise."
** {{Creator/Kenneth Branagh}}'s film version actually shows Hamlet practicing continually.
* SuicideBySea: Ophelia purportedly drowns in a river after falling from a tree where she was hanging flower garlands, but it is strongly implied to have been suicide.
* SurrogateSoliloquy: In Act V Scene 1, Hamlet discovers the (purported) skull of his childhood jester, [[AlasPoorYorick Yorick]], holds it eye-to eye socket, and starts talking to the skull about mortality.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Osric can very easily be argued to be this to Polonius.
* SwordFight: Act V culminates in a duel between Laertes and Hamlet orchestrated by Claudius in order to kill Hamlet with either [[TamperingWithFoodAndDrink a cup of poisoned wine]] or the unblunted, [[PoisonedWeapons poisoned foil]] Laertes wields. The plan backfires when Queen Gertrude drinks the poison, Hamlet [[MidfightWeaponExchange hits Laertes with the poison sword]], Laertes exposes Claudius with his dying breath, and Hamlet kills Claudius, only for Hamlet to succumb to his poisonous injuries moments later.
* SwordOverHead
** Happens in-universe in the First Player's speech recounting Pyrrhus's slaughter of Priam:
--->'''Player:''' for, lo! his sword,\\
Which was declining on the milky head\\
Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick:\\
So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,\\
And like a neutral to his will and matter,\\
Did nothing.
** And this is almost always how the prayer scene is staged: Hamlet finds Claudius praying, raises his sword to finish his revenge . . . And pauses.
** The trope is important to the play as a whole, since it serves as a visual metaphor for Hamlet's reluctance to kill Claudius. Some productions, like the 2008 RSC version, have Hamlet adopt the pose (minus sword) at various other moments of heightened emotion mid-soliloquy.
* TamperingWithFoodAndDrink: Just in case the poisoned foil doesn't off Hamlet, Claudius prepares some poisoned wine for him. He attempts to ward off suspicion by drinking from the cup himself and ''then'' dropping the poison in, [[RefugeInAudacity calling it a "pearl" for Hamlet in celebration of his triumph]]. Hamlet doesn't seem fooled ("I'll play this bout first: set it by awhile"), but then Gertrude pulls an accidental PoisonedChaliceSwitcheroo and drinks from the goblet herself. Later, Hamlet forces Claudius to drink from the poisoned chalice, and Horatio [[TogetherInDeath attempts suicide]] with it.
* TenderTears: The First Player sheds them while performing a soliloquy about the downfall of Troy, embarrassing Hamlet because he can't express his own genuine grief for his father nearly as well as the Player expresses an imaginary grief for people he's never met.
* TakeThat: The long, seemingly [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment out-of-left-field]] dialogue in II.2 in which Hamlet and Rosen-stern discuss why the Players are traveling instead of performing in the city is an elaborate dig at a rival London theatre company and its custom of using young boy actors to draw crowds.[[note]]Doubly hilarious because the claims that they boys have put the "tragedians of the city" out of business would have been clearly refuted by the packed Globe Theatre hearing them.[[/note]]
* ThatCloudLooksLike: In a surreal touch, this scene is often set indoors, far from any windows.
-->'''Hamlet:''' Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?\\
'''Polonius:''' By th' mass, 'tis like a camel indeed.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Methinks it is like a weasel.\\
'''Polonius:''' It is [[{{irony}} backed]] like a weasel.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Or like a whale.\\
'''Polonius:''' Very like a whale.
* TogetherInDeath: Attempted by Horatio when he [[YouAreWorthHell tries to poison himself to follow Hamlet]]. Hamlet prevents Horatio from following through, imploring him to live and tell the story of Hamlet's death.
* TooDumbToLive: Hey, Polonius. Maybe it's not a good idea to hide behind the curtains while spying on Hamlet and yell suspiciously the second things start to go downhill. '''*stab*''' Never mind.
* {{Tragedy}}: One of Creator/WilliamShakespeare's four major tragedies.
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: After blowing his first chance to kill Claudius, Hamlet strikes out blindly at a shape in the curtains he thinks is Claudius. It instead turns out to be Polonius, whose death sends everything straight to hell.
* TragicHero: Hamlet sets out to put the kingdom to rights, but due to his TragicMistake his quest goes off the rails and although he succeeds in the end it is only at a great cost that includes his own death and the deaths of nearly everyone he loves.
* TragicMistake: The mistake that leads to Hamlet's downfall can be traced back to the prayer scene, where he doesn't kill Claudius when he has the chance. Hamlet has [[BluffingTheMurderer confirmed Claudius's guilt]] with the Mousetrap, and now he runs across his uncle at prayer, unaware and vulnerable. It would be the perfect moment to finish his revenge once and for all . . . [[SwordOverHead but he doesn't]], worrying that Claudius's soul, released while praying, will go straight to Heaven, unlike Hamlet's father, who has claimed to be enduring fiery punishment for the sins he was not given time to confess. But despite Hamlet's noble intentions, the play goes downhill for him from there on out.
* TrashTalk: Hamlet to Laertes between bouts of their duel . . . with disastrous results. Unbeknownst to Hamlet, Laertes has just begun to waver on following through with Claudius's [[PoisonedWeapons murderous plan]], but the jibe provokes him all over again and seals Hamlet's fate. May crisscross with SuicideByCop if you interpret Hamlet as playing Act V to lose.
-->'''Laertes:''' ''[Aside]'' ... 'tis almost 'gainst my conscience.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Come, for the third, Laertes: you but dally;\\
[[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor I pray you]], pass with your best violence;\\
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.\\
'''Laertes:''' [[DoNotTauntCthulhu Say you so? come on]].
* TreacheryIsASpecialKindOfEvil: One of Hamlet's excuses for callously ordering the execution of Rosen-stern, who betrayed their friendship with him to spy for Claudius. Either that or they were just {{Innocent Bystander}}s.
* TroubledBackstoryFlashback: Played with. Hamlet doesn't just relive his CynicismCatalyst--he ''[[CatchTheConscience stages a play]]'' based on it. The ShowWithinAShow he has the Players perform to CatchTheConscience of the king is altered to directly imitate the murder of King Hamlet as told by the Ghost, which occurred prior to continuity and informed Hamlet's dark & troubled persona.
* UnfinishedBusiness: King Hamlet rises from the grave to command Hamlet to avenge his murder. He himself has been BarredFromTheAfterlife, or at least from Heaven, because of the sins he was not allowed time to seek absolution for before his death.
* VerbThis:
-->'''Hamlet:''' ''[to the skull of Yorick]'' Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. [[WhamLine Make her laugh at that]].
* VictimBlaming: Hamlet insists, somewhat unsettlingly, that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are responsible for their own [[PleaseShootTheMessenger unwitting]] [[OffWithHisHead demise]].
-->'''Hamlet:''' Why, man, they did make love to this [[DeadlyEuphemism employment]];\\
They are not near my conscience. Their defeat\\
Does by their own insinuation grow.
* WarIsGlorious: Pretty much played straight. King Hamlet, purportedly a king-among-kings, seems to have earned his reputation by prowess in battle. And Hamlet's WorldOfCardboardSpeech in Act IV is prompted by his brush with Fortinbras, whom Hamlet exalts for his willingness to go to war over a triviality [[GlorySeeker for the glory of it]].
* WeAllDieSomeday: Hamlet returns from England obsessed with this fact, as evidenced by the graveyard scene and his conversation with Horatio before the [[FinalBattle fatal duel]] with Laertes.
-->'''Horatio:''' If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.\\
'''Hamlet:''' Not a whit. We defy augury. There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. 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. [[DissonantSerenity Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse
** Marcellus is the Danish watchman who takes first Horatio, then Hamlet himself to see the ghost. He witnesses Hamlet's first reactions to the ghost and is privy to much discussion of the apparition, including Hamlet's plan to fake insanity. He is neither seen nor mentioned again after Act I.
** Reynaldo is an agent of Polonius's [[PutOnABus sent to spy on Laertes when the latter leaves for France]]. Whatever actual impact Reynaldo has on anything is never touched on, and he hasn't returned to Denmark by the end of the play.
*** RuleOfSymbolism lends a hand here. Polonius's conversation with Reynaldo, apart from [[FirstLawOfTragicomedies providing some comic relief]], reinforces the atmosphere of espionage and surveillance pervading Elsinore.
* WhatTheHellHero: After Hamlet kills Polonius.
-->'''Gertrude:''' O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
* WildGooseChase: Polonius wastes quite a bit of Claudius and Gertrude's time trying to convince them that Hamlet is [[WrongGenreSavvy mad for Ophelia's love]]--which is quite possibly what Hamlet intended.
* WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve: The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to him shortly after midnight. It had previously appeared to other people at about that time as well.
* WhyAreYouNotMySon: In his first scene, Claudius publicly names Hamlet as his heir and implores him to "Think of [[RoyalWe us]] as of a father," but not until he has addressed Laertes's suit to return to France and made it quite clear who his favorite young nobleman really is.[[note]] He [[SayMyName addresses Laertes by name]] ''five times'' in ''twelve lines'' here.[[/note]]
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: Hamlet's final soliloquy at the end of Act IV. News of Fortinbras's military action, supposedly to defend a "little patch of ground," forces Hamlet to ([[KillHimAlready again]]) confront his own reluctance to follow through with his revenge. He concludes that it is most definitely time to act--but the conviction, unsurprisingly, does not last long.
-->'''Hamlet:''' I do not know\\
Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do.”
* WorldOfPun: Hamlet is PungeonMaster Supreme, but almost every other character gets in on the action at some point.
* WritersCannotDoMath
** Dawn comes, by Horatio's count, one hundred seconds after midnight.
** Hamlet's TomatoSurprise age is sometimes attributed to this.
* WrongGenreSavvy
** When Horatio first confronts the ghost, he asks it if 1) some ''good'' deed may be done to quiet it, 2) it comes to warn the country against some 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 this were something other than a {{revenge}} {{tragedy}}.
** Polonius, meanwhile, seems to think he's in some sort of StarCrossedLovers romance.
* YouAreAlreadyDead: Laertes [[MortalWoundReveal reveals]] [[InternalReveal to Hamlet]] that the wounds they have both sustained will be fatal because the blade was poisoned.
-->'''Laertes:''' Hamlet, thou art slain.\\
No medicine in the world can do thee good.\\
In thee there is not half an hour’s life.\\
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,\\
Unbated and envenomed.
* YouKilledMyFather: The main plot. Also the motive driving Laertes to kill Claudius, then to kill Hamlet after Claudius talks him down, and Fortinbras to seize the throne of Denmark.
* XanatosGambit: Hamlet's conversation with Horatio prior to the duel in Act V implies that he is ready to die, so the outcome will benefit him whether Claudius kills him or he kills Claudius.

!!Tropes Appearing in [[ShowWithinAShow "The Mousetrap"]]
* HiddenDepths: At first read, the play seems like a total StylisticSuck--a spoileriffic dumb show followed by a series of tedious heroic couplets. But when we recall that Hamlet wrote some if not most of what we see here, the play (and particularly the Player King's dense but philosophically rich filibuster) serve as a rare window into Hamlet's true beliefs and moral code.
-->'''Player King:''' Most necessary 'tis that we forget\\
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:\\
What to ourselves in passion we propose,\\
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.\\
The violence of either grief or joy\\
Their own enactures with themselves destroy:\\
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;\\
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.\\
This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange\\
That even our loves should with our fortunes change;\\
For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,\\
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
* KarmaHoudini: Lucianus, unless his comeuppance was left out of the dumb-show and occurred after the play is stopped.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: Before the play properly starts, three clowns come out and act out almost the entire plot. Many modern productions omit this part, since you're not supposed to spoil ''Theatre/TheMousetrap''.

!!Particular Productions and Adaptations Provide Examples Of:
* AbusiveParents: Certain interpretations of Polonius show him as this towards Ophelia, manipulating her and keeping her emotionally stunted.
* AdaptationExpansion: Gregory Doran's 2008 production made this with Osric, having him present in all the court scenes, giving magnificent "[[CampGay Bitch, please!]]" EyeTake over what is happening around him, elevating him from a OneSceneWonder to a EnsembleDarkhorse.
* AlternateHistory: The [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingon]] version, wherein Earth has owed tribute to Qo'noS.
* AnachronismStew: In-universe, in the [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingon]] version.
* CampGay: Osric in Gregory Doran's 2008 production.
* CaptainObvious: In the 1990 film version, Creator/MelGibson interprets the following line in this way to turn the tables on Polonius (Creator/IanHolm):
-->'''Polonius:''' What do you read, my lord?\\
'''Hamlet:''' ''[looks down at his book]'' Words... ''[looks at the cover of the book]'' words... ''[looks up at Polonius]'' Words.
* CrucifiedHeroShot: A non-sacrificial example appears in Creator/KennethBranagh's ''Hamlet'', when the "four captains / bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage."
* DeadGuyPuppet: It's not quite explicit in the text, but the graveyard scene can be very naturally played this way.
* DeathByAdaptation: The Branagh version goes above and beyond the call of duty by adding Osric and all of the named palace guards to the fatalities in the final scene.
* DoesNotLikeShoes:
** In many adaptations -- theatrical productions, films, paintings, etc. -- Ophelia is barefoot during the mad scene.
** The RSC film has Tennant's Hamlet barefoot in most of the indoor scenes.
* GenderFlip: While not exactly ''common'', there is a recurring trend of recasting characters as the opposite sex in modern productions:
** Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her time, played Hamlet in an 1899 production (and was the first to portray him on film in ''Le Duel de Hamlet''.)
** The 2000 film version, starring Ethan Hawke, not only changes the character of Marcellus to a girl, but also [[PromotionToLoveInterest gives her]] a romantic relationship with Horatio. At the end of the play, the two of them are shown sharing an apartment and sleeping in the same bed.
** Alexander Fodor's 2007 arthouse film adaptation featured a female Horatio and "Polonia".
** The 2008 Creator/RoyalShakespeareCompany production converts minor character Cornelius to Cornelia.
* HeldGaze: The "long distance love-scene" from Creator/LaurenceOlivier's film version, where Hamlet and Ophelia hold each others' gaze from opposite ends of a corridor.
* HypocriticalHumour: In Branagh's version, Polonius has just had sex with a prostitute before giving instructions to the spy he is sending to England to check that his son is behaving virtuously and chastely.
* KickTheDog:
** In the 1990 and 1996 film adaptations, Laertes explicitly breaks the rules of the dueling conduct to wound and poison Hamlet.
** Productions vary on how much effort Claudius puts into preventing Gertrude from drinking from the cup of wine he poisoned for Hamlet; in some, he only tells her to not drink from it (which she does anyway) but makes no move to stop her -- despite earlier claiming that he really does love her. This differs by production. Derek Jacobi in Branagh's film version is visibly shaken at not being able to stop her from drinking.
* NotMyDriver: In the Almereyda/Hawke film, the scene where Hamlet intends to kill his uncle Claudius is played this way -- Hamlet replaces the chauffeur. Claudius gives his IgnoredEpiphany soliloquy in the backseat of his limo.
* RaceLift: Modern versions often feature non-white actors in traditionally white roles, since there's no particular reason any of the characters have to be a certain race, especially if it's a modernized production.
** In the 2008 David Tennant production, Horatio is portrayed by a black actor.
** Campbell Scott's 2000 film adaptation, which takes place on a Southern plantation, depicts Polonius, Laertes and Ophelia as a family of house slaves.
* RailingKill: Part of Laertes's death in Branagh's version.
* SpeechImpediment: In certain interpretations, Ophelia does have a lisp, and some of her lines actually reflect this (for example, "twice two months" is understood as "two-es...two months). This gives Hamlet's line (" ... you lisp, you nickname God's creatures ... ") a second, literal meaning.
** SpeechImpededLoveInterest: She becomes this therefore, given her relationship with Hamlet.
* SpinOff: Many, many, many. The most famous is Tom Stoppard's play ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''. A more recent example is John Updike's novel ''Gertrude and Claudius''.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: Even more extreme in the Branagh version, where Hamlet stabs Claudius in the leg with a sword thrown from across a rather large chamber, crushes him with a FallingChandelierOfDoom and ''then'' force-feeds him poison.
* WorldOfHam: Branagh may have intentionally directed his adaptation in this style in order to maintain the audience's interest in a four-hour-long movie.