A Hamlet timeline – chronicle of events

      Setting the Timeline – considerations

Claudius – planning my foul murder

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

Revenge in the end

Fulfilling the Ghost's request

King Hamlet's ghost is in Purgatory. As an act of revenge, he wants his murderer, Claudius, to also suffer Purgatory on his way to Hell. The ghost asks Hamlet to kill Claudius and Hamlet agrees to do it. Hamlet spends a considerable time establishing whether the ghost told the truth or is an evil spirit and whether Claudius is guilty, or not, of the murder.

Ghost: My hour is almost come,
When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Hamlet: Alas, poor ghost!
Ghost: Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
Hamlet: Speak. I am bound to hear.
Ghost: So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
Hamlet: What?
Ghost: I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand an end
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love –
Hamlet: O God!
Ghost: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Hamlet: Murder?
Ghost: Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Hamlet: Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
Ghost: I find thee apt;

Ghost: Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd;
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd,
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
Hamlet: O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
After Hamlet is convinced of Claudius's guilt, he has an opportunity to kill him but he is at prayer. If he were to kill Claudius, it would send him to Heaven,  not to Purgatory, so it's not the right time.

Hamlet: Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd.
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge!
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
'Tis heavy with him; and am I then reveng'd,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.

Hamlet postpones killing Claudius until he can catch him doing an evil act.

When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in't-
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
As hell, whereto it goes.

King Hamlet revenged

Hamlet has been unable to catch Claudius in a situation where killing him would be a revengeful act. Suddenly, at the very end of the play, Hamlet achieves several acts of revenge each, appropriately, in kind. In particular, Hamlet fulfils the revenge condition that his father's ghost requested of him: Hamlet kills Claudius whilst he is at gaming! How ironic and fitting that Claudius went to Purgatory because of the bet he had on Hamlet.

The murderous act The  revenge response
Hamlet was fatally poisoned by Laertes using his foil Hamlet revenges on Laertes using Laertes's own foil
Claudius wanted Hamlet killed with the poisoned foil – he is fatally wounded Hamlet revenges on Claudius with the poisoned foil – he is fatally wounded
Claudius wanted Hamlet to drink the poisoned wine Hamlet revenges on Claudius, forcing him to drink the poisoned wine
Claudius poisoned the wine that killed Gertrude Hamlet revenges on Claudius, forcing him to drink the poisoned wine
Claudius poisoned King Hamlet pouring poison into his ear Hamlet revenges on Claudius pouring poison into his mouth
Claudius killed King Hamlet in his sin. Unaneled, he went to Purgatory Hamlet revenges on Claudius in his sin (at gaming). Unaneled, he went to Purgatory