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
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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