Hamlet Characters

Read our modern English translation.


The prince of Denmark, son of Gertrude, nephew of Claudius, and heir to the throne. Hamlet is a deep thinker, focusing on impossible to answer questions about religion, death, truth, reality, and the… (read full character analysis)


Hamlet's uncle, and Gertrude's second husband. Power-hungry and lustful, Claudius murders his brother in order to take the throne of Denmark and marry his wife. Claudius is a great talker and schemer. He… (read full character analysis)


Hamlet's mother. After Hamlet's father dies, Gertrude quickly marries Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Though she is a good woman and loving mother, she is weak-willed and unable to control her personal passions. Whether because… (read full character analysis)


The Lord Chamberlain of Denmark, and the father of Laertes and Ophelia, whom he loves deeply and wishes to protect, even to the point of spying on them. Polonius is pompous and long-winded, and… (read full character analysis)


Polonius's daughter, Laertes's sister, and Hamlet's love. As a woman, Ophelia must obey the men around her and is forced by her father first to stop speaking to Hamlet and then to… (read full character analysis)
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The Ghost

The spirit that claims to be Hamlet's dead father, forced to endure the fires of Purgatory because he was murdered by Claudius in his sleep without being able to ask forgiveness for his sins… (read full character analysis)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Friends of Hamlet's from Wittenberg who help Claudius and Gertrude try and figure out the source of Hamlet's melancholy. Hamlet sees that the two are, essentially, spying on him, and turns on them. Rosencrantz… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother. Laertes is hotheaded and passionate, and loves his family deeply. As a man prone to action rather than thought who also seeks to revenge the death of his father, he serves as a "double" to Hamlet, providing numerous points of comparison.
A university friend of Hamlet's at Wittenberg, Horatio becomes Hamlet's confidant in his effort to take revenge against Claudius. Hamlet values Horatio's self-restraint: Horatio is the character in Hamlet least moved by passion.
A prince of Norway, whose father, Old Fortinbras, died in battle with Old Hamlet and lost lands to Denmark. Fortinbras seeks to revenge his father's death and retake the lost lands. As another son seeking revenge for his father, Fortinbras offers another "double" of Hamlet.
A foppish nobleman who flatters everyone more powerful than him and speaks in very flowery language.
First Player
The leader of the troupe of actors who come to Elsinore.
Two commoners employed to dig the graves in the local churchyard.
A guardsman of Elsinore.
A guardsman of Elsinore.
A guardsman of Elsinore.
A Danish ambassador to Norway.
A Danish ambassador to Norway.
A servant of Polonius.
A jester at Elsinore in Hamlet's youth.
An officer in Fortinbras's army.