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A Hamlet timeline – chronicle of events

      Setting the Timeline – considerations

Claudius – planning my foul murder

Hamlet at Wittenberg – out of the way

King Hamlet's funeral – where was Hamlet?

Gertrude & Claudius – adultery or not?

Horatio – Hamlet's friend?

Horatio – is he passion's slave?

Polonius – the evil that men do

Ophelia's love? – did she love Hamlet?

Ophelia closetted – Polonius on love

      O help xxx ....... – Olivier's version

Ophelia's change – is Hamlet suspicious?

Hamlet feigns madness – protective "cover"

Is Hamlet mad? – Polonius's opinion

The Trial of Claudius – Hamlet's prosecution

Hamlet kills Polonius – stabs the "Voice"

Laertes v Hamlet – poisoned foil

Ophelia's death – a recipe

Hamlet's age – digging up the past

Yorick – something rotting in Denmark

Betting on Hamlet – the fencing match

Hamlet's fencing skill – better than Laertes

Hamlet's revenge – the rest is silence

King Hamlet's funeral

Why didn't Hamlet attend the funeral?

Hamlet was not in Elsinore when his father died, nor was he there to attend his father's funeral? Naturally, the people would want Hamlet to attend and he would be sent for, but he failed to arrive in time. Why? Claudius would not risk Hamlet examining the king's corpse. He would prevent Hamlet from getting word of his father's death and ensure there were delays and barriers to prevent his arrival for the funeral. If Hamlet had been there he may have seen his father's body.
Ghost: ....... Now, Hamlet, hear:
'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me;
Hamlet would likely wish to see where the serpent bit him and expect to see fang marks.
Ghost: ....... thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigour doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.
Had Hamlet arrived before the funeral he may well have called on the coroner and doctors to examine the corpse. This would have disclosed the cause of death and shown that the serpent story was a fiction. Clearly, Claudius took no chances. He made sure King Hamlet was well and truly buried before Hamlet returned to Elsinore. When Hamlet arrived home the first thing he did was visit the sepulchre and there see his father's marble casket.
Hamlet: ....... but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws, .....

So, where was Hamlet when his father died?

This year, Hamlet was doing a course at Wittenberg, the small German town with a university, made famous by Martin Luther and The Reformation. It would only take two or three days journey for Hamlet to get there.

It is likely Hamlet was studying a single subject, for a couple of months later Gertrude asked Hamlet not to return to Wittenberg, and he didn't. This suggests he was not doing a continuous course but just a single, elective topic which was no problem to drop.

Likely he went to Wittenberg in early spring when the university reopened. Horatio would have gone there about the same time. Hamlet saw Horatio there but made no contact. This suggests that, this year, either one or both were at Wittenberg for the first time, for if they were both returning student Hamlet would have soon made some kind of contact with Horatio.

That he would approach Horatio seems highly likely given Hamlet making friends with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in his school-days about 15 years earlier. However, it never happened. Why not? Hamlet may have been on the point of making contact, when Horatio was no longer in Wittenberg. How come? Horatio had returned to Elsinore to go to King Hamlet'a funeral.

A week or two after Hamlet left for Wittenberg and was out of the way, Claudius murdered King Hamlet. Claudius then sent his henchmen to Wittenberg with orders to prevent Hamlet getting word of his father's death and/or prevent him coming home. Others of his henchmen told Horatio of King Hamlet's death and immediately brought him back to Elsinore to make sure he never spoke to Hamlet of the death.

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