In Elsinore Castle, in Denmark, the former King Hamlet has recently died. A pair of soldiers, Bernardo and Marcellus, see a ghost roaming the castle, and ask Horatio to come witness it, as seen in the storyboard above. Each then vow to tell Prince Hamlet they believe they have seen the ghost of his father.
Hamlet sees the ghost, and learns his father had been poisoned by his Uncle Claudius, who has assumed the throne and married the queen, Gertrude. Hamlet feels he must seek revenge, but as Claudius is the king, he is well protected. Hamlet also struggles with the authenticity of the "ghost" and desires proof of Claudius' actions.
Claudius hires two of Hamlet's old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy upon the prince. Polonius, Claudius' chief counsel, also spies upon the prince. Polonius' daughter, Ophelia, had been courted by Hamlet, but he now rejects her. Hamlet tries to figure out if Claudius killed his father, and upon hearing a troupe of actors is coming, he requests a play in which the king is poisoned in the ear, mimicking the way the ghost claimed he was killed. Based on how Claudius reacts, Hamlet will find him guilty or innocent. In the scene above, Hamlet rejects Ophelia's attempts at reconciliation as her father and the king watch from the shadows.
In the scene above, Claudius leaves the play and goes to pray for forgiveness for killing Hamlet's father. Hamlet overhears his guilt, and is set on killing him. However, Hamlet believes that if he kills Claudius while he is praying, he will go to heaven. Later, Hamlet stabs Polonius through a curtain, fully committing himself to overtly violent action.
Hamlet speaks to his mother, Gertrude, how disgusted he is that she married Claudius. In consequence of killing Polonius, Hamlet is banished to England, sent to be executed. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carry the letter ordering the execution, which Hamlet finds and changes so that they instead hold their own execution. Hamlet then comes back to Denmark, where Ophelia, crushed by Hamlet's disdain and her father's death, has drowned herself. Thus Laertes, son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia, challenges Hamlet to a duel.
Claudius poisons a cup and tries to get Hamlet to drink from it, but instead Gertrude drinks and subsequently dies. At the match, Laertes poisons his sword. He stabs Hamlet, and after a grappling match, he is stabbed by his own sword after being mistakenly picked up by Hamlet. Thus, they are both poisoned. After the match, Hamlet forces Claudius to drink from the cup, and them stabs him with the poisoned sword. In the end, only Horatio is alive to tell the story. Fortinbras, prince of Norway, arrives to Denmark to find the royal family dead and claims it as his own.