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Hamlet
William Shakespeare

THE PLAY

FORM AND STRUCTURE

THE FIVE-ACT STRUCTURE

The main plot and subplot stories are both framed by the story of Fortinbras' avenging his father.

    ACT I: EXPOSITION. The rotten state of Denmark is disclosed, and the ghost appears with his call for vengeance.

    ACT II: RISING ACTION. Hamlet tries to discover the truth about the ghost's accusations.

    ACT III: CLIMAX. Hamlet springs his "mousetrap" and catches his proof- Claudius is guilty.

    ACT IV: FALLING ACTION. Claudius, not Hamlet, takes charge of events.

    ACT V: CATASTROPHE. The consummation of everyone's vengeance is achieved in a bloody ending that leaves only Horatio alive to tell the tale.

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