Hamlet | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Professor Regina Buccola, Chair of Humanities at Roosevelt University, explains characters in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

Hamlet | Characters

Character Description
Hamlet Hamlet is the grief-stricken protagonist of the play. Read More
Polonius Polonius is the king's chief counselor and father of Laertes and Ophelia. Read More
Claudius Claudius is the corrupt brother of King Hamlet who takes the throne after the king's death and marries his former sister-in-law. Read More
Horatio Horatio is Hamlet's school friend who remains a loyal companion. Read More
Laertes Laertes is Polonius's son—a strong, active, and noble confidant for Hamlet. Read More
Ophelia Ophelia is Hamlet's love interest. Read More
Gertrude Gertrude is Hamlet's mother. Read More
Ghost The ghost is the spirit of King Hamlet. Read More
Barnardo Barnardo is a castle guard.
Captain The captain is a member of Fortinbras's troops; Hamlet shares a conversation with him about thoughts and actions.
Cornelius Cornelius is a courtier sent as ambassador to Norway.
First Player First Player, a member of the company of players, agrees with Hamlet that they will perform his edited version of The Murder of Gonzago.
Fortinbras Fortinbras, prince of Norway, is the quick-thinking and passionate foil to Hamlet.
Gravedigger The gravedigger and sexton are responsible for digging Ophelia's grave.
Guildenstern Guildenstern, a friend of Hamlet, is hired by Claudius to spy on Hamlet.
Marcellus Marcellus is a castle guard.
Osric Osric is the king's pretentious messenger.
Reynaldo Reynaldo is a spy sent to monitor Laertes's activities in France.
Rosencrantz Rosencrantz, a friend of Hamlet, is hired by Claudius to spy on Hamlet.
Sailor The sailor delivers letters from Hamlet to Horatio and Claudius.
Sexton The sexton and gravedigger are responsible for digging Ophelia's grave. A sexton is a church official who looks after church property.
Voltemand Voltemand is a courtier sent as ambassador to Norway.
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