A line-by-line translation


Hamlet Translation Table of Contents

A morbid tragedy about mortality, madness, and murder, Hamlet follows the eponymous Prince of Denmark as he plots to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the current king, who married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Haunted by a ghost and arguing with his girlfriend Ophelia, Hamlet struggles to take revenge, as delay and feigned insanity preoccupy him. Rounding out the cast are other famous figures, like Horatio, and Polonius, and of course, the Gravedigger, who finds the skull of “poor Yorick.” Perhaps Shakespeare’s most popular play, Hamlet in all its brilliance and nuance is now accessible to every reader with our Shakescleare modern English translation. Discover and decipher some of the most famous quotes in all of Shakespeare’s works, including “To be or not to be, that is the question,” “brevity is the soul of wit,” and “This above all: to thine ownself be true.”

Act 1, Scene 1

Watchmen discuss strange happenings. They see the ghost of the murdered king, and decide to tell Hamlet.

Act 1, Scene 2

Claudius and Gertrude ask Hamlet to stay in Denmark, and question why he seems so upset. Hamlet hears about the ghost.

Act 1, Scene 3

Before Laertes sets sail, he and his father Polonius warn Ophelia against starting a relationship with Hamlet.

Act 1, Scene 4

Hamlet stays out on guard. The ghost comes and beckons Hamlet away from his friends.

Act 1, Scene 5

Old Hamlet's ghost tells Hamlet what happened to him. Hamlet promises revenge, and swears his friends to secrecy.

Act 2, Scene 1

Polonius sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes to see if he has any vices. Ophelia reports that Hamlet is behaving strangely.

Act 2, Scene 2

Members of the court try to understand Hamlet's mood. The actors arrive. Hamlet plots a device to test Claudius' guilt.

Act 3, Scene 1

Claudius and Polonius send Ophelia to Hamlet, and overhear them talk. Hamlet seems to scorn her.

Act 3, Scene 2

Hamlet has the actors perform "The Mousetrap," a play that reflects Claudius' crimes. Claudius leaves in a rage.

Act 3, Scene 3

Claudius plots to get Hamlet out of Denmark. Polonius plans to eavesdrop on Hamlet's conversation with Gertrude.

Act 3, Scene 4

Hamlet kills Polonius, and urges Gertrude to repent. Old Hamlet's ghost comes back and spurs on Hamlet's vengeance.

Act 4, Scene 1

Claudius asks Gertrude where Hamlet is. She tells him that Hamlet has killed Polonius.

Act 4, Scene 2

Gentlemen ask Hamlet where he has put Polonius' body. Hamlet replies in a way they cannot understand.

Act 4, Scene 3

Claudius asks Hamlet where Polonius' body is. Claudius tells Hamlet that he is being sent to England.

Act 4, Scene 4

Hamlet comes across the army of Fortinbras as he marches to attack Poland. Hamlet questions the point of the war.

Act 4, Scene 5

Ophelia has gone insane. Having raised a rebellious army, Laertes demands to know how his father died.

Act 4, Scene 6

A servant gives Horatio a letter from Hamlet about the attack on his ship, which prevented him from reaching England.

Act 4, Scene 7

Hamlet returns to Denmark. Laertes and Claudius plan to kill Hamlet in a duel. Gertrude announces Ophelia's death.

Act 5, Scene 1

Hamlet discusses mortality with a gravedigger. Ophelia is buried. Hamlet and Laertes fight over her grave.

Act 5, Scene 2

Hamlet and Laertes duel, fatally wound each other, and reconcile before death. Gertrude dies. Hamlet kills Claudius.
Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.