Imagine you're Prince Hamlet, the
son of the King, and while you're away at college your Dad dies and your
Mom marries his brother, Claudius, making him the new King. It might
just drive you to distraction.
Then if you were told the ghost of your father was wandering the castle
at night, well, you might be eager to believe it. You might even believe
you see the ghost yourself and that he tells you about his murder at the
hands of his brother.
Naturally you'd want to keep this all a secret as you formulate a plan to
execute the murdering usurper of the throne, your Uncle. You might
decide to just go all the way nuts and see where that gets you. It would
most likely make your Uncle, the usurper, nervous.
The danger of acting crazy when you're already unhappy is in the
collatoral damage. If you're not careful you might accidentally stab your
girlfriend's father, Polonius, and drive her, Ophelia, to suicide over his
death. This wouldn't help the relationship with your Uncle, or your
girlfriend's brother, Laertes, for that matter.
You might hire some actors to play out the murder of your father as the
ghost related it to you just to see if your uncle recognizes the scene, but
that still won't get the job done. Your uncle might hire some classmates
of yours to unwittingly lead you into a trap, but you'd most likely turn
the tables on them and seal their fate.
Your Uncle would probably want to get rid of you once and for all at this
point and, with a little help from Laertes and a whole lot of poison, feel
pretty confident doing it. A little fencing contest with a toxic foil should
do the trick and if not then a poisoned pearl dropped in the wine goblet
should settle the matter. This is assuming that Laertes doesn't get
stabbed with the sword and Gertrude, the Queen, doesn't drink the
Well, imagine that you were stabbed too and that before you died you
both stabbed the King and poured poison down his usurping gullet.
Then imagine that your good buddy Horatio was the only person left
who could tell the tale as the country was overrun by enemy forces.
Now you know why they call it a tragedy.