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Claudius decides that he must get rid of Hamlet by sending him to England.Following the play, Gertrude calls Hamlet to her room, intending to berate him for his horrible insinuations.
On their way to the ship, Hamlet and his entourage pass Fortinbras' Norwegian army en route to a Polish campaign.
Back at Elsinore (the Danish palace), Ophelia has gone mad following her father's death.
Claudius has taken Old Hamlet's widow, Gertrude, as his wife.
We watch their marriage celebration and hear about a threat from the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras, which Claudius manages to avoid by diplomacy.
Just as Gertrude appears convinced by Hamlet's excoriation, the ghost of Old Hamlet reappears and tells Hamlet not to behave so cruelly to his mother, and to remember to carry out revenge on Claudius.
Gertrude perceives her son discoursing with nothing but air and is completely convinced of his madness.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's attempts to discover the reason for Hamlet's madness are met with evasion and witticism.Meanwhile, Polonius hatches a theory of his own: he thinks that Hamlet is insane due to Ophelia's rejection of his love.Horatio tells Hamlet of the appearance of the ghost and Hamlet determines to visit the spirit himself. Hamlet questions the ghost, who beckons Hamlet away from the others.Meanwhile, the court adviser, Polonius, sends his son, Laertes, back to Paris, where he is living. When they are alone, the ghost reveals that Claudius murdered him in order to steal his crown and his wife.Hamlet has been behaving in a most erratic and alarming way.Claudius summons two of Hamlet's school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in order to discover the meaning of this strange behavior.He arranges to test his theory by setting Ophelia on Hamlet when they are apparently alone and then observing the proceedings with Claudius.Hamlet's only consolation appears to be the coming of a troupe of players from England.Something is amiss in Denmark -- for two successive nights, the midnight guard has witnessed the appearance of the ghost of Old Hamlet, the former King of Denmark who has recently died.The guards bring Horatio, a learned scholar and friend of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, to witness this apparition.