Hamlet :: Characters

Hamlet Characters

Claudius is Old Hamlet’s brother, uncle to Hamlet, and the present King of Denmark. He murdered the latter out of love or lust for Gertrude and the crown. 


Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. Devastated by his father’s death, he had nevertheless hoped to succeed him, only to see his uncle Claudius both be chosen as king and marry his mother. This does nothing for his depression.


Polonius is Claudius’s long-bearded chief counselor. 


Horatio is a friend of Hamlet’s, a fellow student at Wittenberg University. 


Laertes is Polonius’s son, who prefers life in Paris to Elsinore. 


Voltemand is a courtier at Claudius’s court. 


Cornelius is a courtier at Claudius’s court. 


Rosencrantz is a childhood friend of Hamlet’s, inseparable from Guildenstern. 


Guildenstern is a childhood friend of Hamlet’s, inseparable from Rosencrantz. 


Osric is a young courtier at Claudius’s court. 


Marcellus is a guard at Elsinore, Barnardo’s companion on the midnight round. 


Barnardo is a guard at Elsinore, charged with the midnight round. 


Francisco is a guard at Elsinore. He is slightly depressed, or at least unhappy about having to work cold nights.


Reynaldo is a servant and spy of Polonius’s able to put up with the latter’s absent-minded wanderings. 


The First Clown is a gravedigger. He is convinced that Ophelia ought to be considered a suicide. 


The Second Clown is the first gravedigger’s straight man. 


Fortinbras is the Prince of Norway, a warlike young man with energy to spend. 


A Norwegian Captain in Fortinbras’s army has no illusions about the campaign they are engaged in. 


The First Ambassador from England arrives at Elsinore with the news of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s execution just after everyone dies. 


Gertrude is the widow of Old Hamlet and the present wife of Claudius, Hamlet’s mother, and the Queen. 


Ophelia is Polonius’s daughter. In love with Hamlet, she is obedient to her father and listens to her brother, though she is spirited enough to accuse him of potential hypocrisy.


The Ghost of Old Hamlet haunts the castle of Elsinore. Having been murdered by his brother, he wanders the night, waiting for a chance to speak with his son. 


Laertes's Followers convince the mob to let Ophelia through and enter the room where Claudius and Gertrude are confronting Laertes.


The First Sailor is one of the pirate crew that captures Hamlet. He brings letters from the prince to Horatio, the King, and the Queen.


A Gentleman brings the sailors to Horatio.


A Lord comes to double-check that Hamlet is still planning to fence with Laertes, and to ask the prince on the Queen’s behalf to be nice to Laertes before the bout begins.


A Messenger, possibly a member of Claudius’s Swiss guard, bursts in to tell the King to flee from the mob that Laertes has roused and which is breaking in to the palace. 


A Doctor of Divinity officiates unwillingly at Ophelia’s funeral. 


The First Player has, with his company, known Hamlet for some time. 


The Player Queen is an adolescent boy who has recently had a growth spurt, but whose voice has not yet broken.


The Player Prologue gives the fifteen-word opening to the spoken part of the players’ performance.


The Player Lucianus plays the murderer in the play. He overdoes his melodramatic evil grimaces on his entrance.



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