||Since its first production in London in 1602, the tragedy of HAMLET has become Shakespeare's most famous play, staged thousands of times, and considered a masterpiece of English literature and culture. On the ramparts of the Danish castle, young Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, receives a visitation from the ghost of his dead father who reveals a betrayal "most foul strange and unnatural": the old king claims to have been murdered by his own brother, Claudius, who then assumed the throne and married his widow. Hamlet swears to seek vengeance against his uncle, but soon finds himself plagued by doubts, indecision, and moral and religious quandaries. As he struggles with his task, Hamlet feigns madness, speaks in riddles, and contemplates suicide. After he accidentally stabs Polonius, Claudius's counselor, Hamlet is sent into exile--and Polonius's daughter, Ophelia, who had been in love with Hamlet, goes mad from grief and drowns herself. In the tragedy's climax, Hamlet returns to Denmark and stages a play in the hopes of exposing his uncle's guilt, while unbeknownst to him, Claudius has set about plans to have Hamlet poisoned. HAMLET is part of the well-established tradition of "revenge tragedies" that were popular at the end of the Elizabethan era, but the play transcends all its influences in its examination of justice and duty, and as a subtle portrait of a sensitive young man torn between righteous revenge and his duty as a moral man. For many critics Hamlet's psychological and philosophical dilemmas represent the greatest depiction of the complexities of the modern man.