Hamlet Summary of Act I, Scene 5
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet and the ghost are now alone, and the ghost begins to speak. He tells Hamlet that he has come to encourage Hamlet to avenge his murder. The ghost explains that Claudius has told everyone he died after being bitten by a snake, but that this is not true: in fact, the former king died after Claudius poured poison in his ear as he slept in the garden. Hamlet cries out as his worst fears about his uncle are confirmed.

The ghost orders Hamlet to seek revenge. He states that Claudius has corrupted Denmark and has also corrupted Gertrude by taking her from the pure love of her first marriage and seduced her into the foul lust of her current marriage.

As dawn breaks, the ghost disappears. Hamlet, shaken practically out of his wits, vows to remember and obey the ghost’s commands. Horatio and Marcellus rush in to find Hamlet highly agitated; when they ask him what happened, he refuses to tell them, but makes them swear not to reveal to anyone that they have seen the ghost.

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