Main / Books / Hamnet / Summary


Quick Recap & Summary By Chapter

The Quick Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The three-sentence summary: Hamnet is essentially a family-type drama telling the background between Will Shakespeare and his wife Agnes. It follows their relationship as they deal with their grief over the death of their son Hamnet, the implications of Will's career and Will's infidelity. In the end, Will writes the play Hamlet as a farewell to his son -- it's a play where the father dies instead of the son and the ghost's final line is "Remember me."

(The book opens with a few historical notes. A couple in Stratford had three children, twins Hamnet and Judith, and daughter Susanna. Hamnet, died in 1596, aged eleven. Roughly four years later, his father writes the play Hamlet, interchangeable at the time with name Hamnet.)

The chapters jump back and forth between two timelines. In 1596, Hamnet is a young boy whose twin sister Judith has suddenly fallen ill. Hamnet searches for an adult, but the only person home is his drunk and abusive grandfather John Shakespeare. John is a disgraced glove maker, due to his illicit wool trading, among other things. Hamnet's father (William Shakespeare, though he is never named in the book) is in London, as usual. Hamnet's mother, Agnes, is away. He falls asleep next to Judith, crying.

In an earlier timeline, John Shakespeare owes a debt to a (deceased) sheep farmer. John and the farmer's (second) wife Joan have an arrangement for his son William to work off the debt by tutoring Joan's sons. It results in the tutor (Will Shakespeare) meeting Agnes. Agnes and her brother Bartholomew are the farmer's children with his first wife. Agnes has special abilities, where she is able to divine information about people, and she is also good with plants. Agnes and William fall in love.

In 1596, Agnes finally comes home and tries to treat Judith, confirming that she has "the pestilence" (the plague). The doctor shows up and warns them that no one is to leave the house until it has passed. When nothing works, Eliza (William's sister) writes to her brother in London to tell him to come home to say goodbye.

In an earlier timeline, Agnes becomes pregnant. John senses a business opportunity and strikes a bargain with Joan and Bartholomew regarding the debt, wool and Agnes. Soon, Agnes and the tutor are married. The baby, Susanna, is born. Agnes notices that her husband is unhappy as an errand-boy for his father. Agnes comes up with a plan to get John to send William to London. The plan works. Though Agnes is pregnant again, but William leaves for London, with plans to reunite once he is settled there.

An interlude traces the path of the disease. It involves a chance meeting of a glassmaker in Venice and a cabin boy on a ship. The cabin boy brings a disease-ridden flea onto the ship after interacting with a monkey in Alexandria. The pestilence ravages the ship. After the glassmaker loads his cargo in Venice, fleas end up in those boxes, which is unloaded in London. One box makes its way to a dressmaker. Her neighbor's daughter, Judith, is curious about it. The dressmaker lets Judith unpackage the disease-ridden box.

In 1596, Hamnet sees his dying sister and wants to trick death into taking him instead. He crawls into bed next to her. Agnes is soon surprised to discover that Judith is looking better, but Hamnet is barely breathing. She tries every remedy, but he dies.

In the earlier timeline, William sells some gloves to actors at a theater. Soon, he is acting (and later writing plays) and no longer dealing in gloves. In Stratford, Agnes is surprised to have twins, though she is worried because she has always known she would have only two children. Judith is the second one out, and she is weak and smaller than Hamnet. Agnes delays going to London until Judith is stronger, but Judith continues to be weak and sickly. The years pass, but the move to London never happens.

In 1596, William comes home to find Hamnet, not Judith, dead. Hamnet is buried. William is heartbroken. The house is full of reminders of Hamnet, and he is worried about the life he has built in London. William soon goes back to London and does not come home for a long time. Judith wonders if her resemblance to Hamnet is what keeps him away. Agnes grieves, too.

A year after Hamnet's death, William finally comes home. Agnes senses that he has been with other women. William apologizes for everything and decides to buy his family a house here in Stratford since it is clear that they will not be coming to London. He buys the largest house in the town, though he still only visits two or three times a year. As the girls grow up, Judith develops a love of plants like her mother. Susanna helps out with her father's affairs in terms of purchasing land, rental income, and other business affairs.

One day, Agnes learns that William has written a play (Hamlet) named after their son. Upset, Agnes goes (with Bartholomew) to London to find William. She finds him at the playhouse before a performance of Hamlet. As she watches the play, she realizes that her husband has written a play where the father is the one that dies instead of the child. In his play, "Hamlet"/Hamnet gets to live. The book ends with the last line that the ghost delivers, "Remember me".

If this summary was useful to you, please consider supporting this site by leaving a tip ($2, $3, or $5) or joining the Patreon!

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

(Note that the chapters in the book are unnumbered and unnamed. I’ve added chapter numbers and the first few words of each chapter to make this easier to navigate and reference. The chapters jump back and forth between two timelines.)

The book opens with a few historical notes. A couple in Stratford had three children, twins Hamnet and Judith, and daughter Susanna. Hamnet, died in 1596, aged eleven. Roughly four years later, his father (William Shakespeare) writes the play Hamlet (interchangeable at the time with name Hamnet).

Part I

Chapter 1, “A boy is . . .”

Stratford, 1596. Hamnet is a boy with a twin sister, Judith, who is unwell. His father (William Shakespeare, though he’s not referred to as such in the book) is away in London, a two days’ ride away, as he often is. Hamnet is at his grandparents’ house, adjacent to his own home, and looks for anyone else in his family, like his mother and older sister. Instead, only his grandfather John Shakespeare appears, but drunk. His father has warned Hamnet to stay away from his grandfather when he’s “in one of his black humours”. John manages to get a swipe at Hamnet, who runs away in tears. Hamnet runs home to check on Judith who feels hot and has boils on her throat and neck. He runs off to fetch the doctor.

At the moment, Hamnet and Judith’s mother, Agnes, is a distance away at the Hewlands, where she is tending to her bees, since something seems to be upsetting them. Nearby, her second-youngest brother tends to some sheep. She feels a “nameless unease”. Later, Agnes will wonder how things would have been different if she had just left the bees and gone home at that moment.

At the physician’s house, a woman answers. She asks if there’s lumps, and Hamnet says yes. She quickly sends Hamnet home, but promises to send the doctor when possible. Unknown to Hamnet, he has passed by his grandparents, John and Mary, and his older sister, Susanna, on the way there. John is outside the guildhall, where they are having a meeting he wasn’t invited to. The other men won’t even have a drink with him. John is a glove-maker who has been disgraced ever since his illicit dealings in wool came to light, he was fined for not attending church, and for dumping waste in the street. He longs to reinstate himself. Mary and Susanna are out making glove deliveries.

In bed, Judith is both feverish and cold, and she wonders where everyone is. She recalls riding on her father’s shoulders as a child. Elsewhere, the maid flirts with the dairyman. In the Hewlands, Agnes coaxes her bees into their hive. In London, her father listens as a man blathers on. (Her father is a thrifty man, and the people in London believe he is ferreting his money away, but in reality he sends all his money back to Stratford.) Hamnet arrives back home, but no one else is back yet.

Chapter 2, “If you were . . .”

(This chapter is a flashback to a past timeline, the chapters jump back and forth from two separate timelines.)

In the Hewlands, a tutor (William Shakespeare, though he’s not referred to as such in the book) teaches a Latin class. The tutor is the eldest of six siblings and was the most common target for his father’s tempers growing up. He’s required to teach twice a week because his father, John, incurred some type of debt involving the wool trade. There is something illicit going on, but the tutor doesn’t know the exact details. The debt was owed to the yeoman (landowner), a sheep farmer, though he passed away. However, the debtor’s widow and eldest son knew about the debt. Consequently, an arrangement was made for the tutor to work off the debt of his father by tutoring the deceased sheep farmer’s many kids.

As he teaches, the tutor sees a plaited woman with a hawk. He curious and goes looking for her, realizing that she must be the eldest daughter of the house. When he finds her, he asks to see her bird, which she explains is a kestral (type of falcon), given to her by a priest. They flirt, and she says her name is Agnes (at first he mishears and thinks she says Anne, the same name as his sister who died almost two years ago) before giving him a kiss.

There was a story around these parts about a girl (Agnes), born at the edge of the woods, and her little brother (Bartholomew). Their mother had “come from the woods” and married a farmer. Soon, the little girl and then her littler brother were born. The mother is wild and strange, but dotes on her children. Sadly, the third pregnancy results in a stillborn child and the mother dead from childbirth. Afterwards, a neighbor suggests that his sister, Joan, work at the farmer’s place to help out with the children and the farm. Joan complains about the difficult little girl and looks increasingly disheveled (with warts and spots), but soon Joan and the farmer are married. Eventually, rumors spread about the girl having unusual abilities. As she grows up, she’s able to use her abilities to help people, and she’s known to keep a pet falcon.

Growing up, Agnes dislikes Joan, who is mean to her. Joan has her own children, who she prefers. Agnes misses her other mother and tells Bartholomew stories about their other mother. She remembers the day she’d seen her mother dead in a wooden box with the stillborn child in her arms. Her father had made Agnes promise never to say anything about the strange priest who had come, waving around smoke and speaking words she didn’t recognize.

Agnes grows up, becoming fascinated by hands and learns that she can read people and their fates through the muscles on their hands. It starts when she is young, and her father and Joan tell her she needs to hide this odd ability. Agnes grows up feeling wrong and out of place.

Chapter 3, “Hamnet climbs the . . .”

In present day (1596), Hamnet goes home to find that Judith is even weaker now. He sits by her bedside and cries himself to sleep.

Half an hour later, Susanna comes home and someone knocks on their window. Susanna knows it’s likely someone looking for Agnes because of her unusual abilities and sends them away. Their father only comes home a handful of times (2-5) a year, usually for a week or more. Susanna misses him and secretly prays that the plague will come to London, to shut down all the playhouses, so he can stay home for a few months. Mary comes back, and she and Susanna go prepare dinner.

Chapter 4, “There is suddenly . . .”

(Past timeline.)

After meeting Agnes, the tutor has a newfound enthusiasm for teaching Latin. His sister, Eliza, finds him writing in an attic. There’s wool bales hidden there, for some reason they don’t understand. Eliza can read his writing because her brother has taught her and her sister Anne.

Eliza has heard that he’s been seen with Agnes, which he confirms. Eliza is worried, too, about what people say regarding Agnes’s strangeness. There are rumors that Agnes caused the blotches and boils on her stepmother, Joan. But her brother is unconcerned. He talks about Agnes’s falcon. Eliza doesn’t push him, knowing she must probe him gently for information.

At the Hewlands, Agnes and the tutor fool around on bushels of apples. They had gone to Joan about their relationship, explaining that they were handfasted (a type of unofficiated wedding ritual), but Joan had dismissed it. She said that he was too young, too broke and his disgraced father owed too much debt.

However, eventually Joan realizes that one of her daughters must be missing their period, due to the “monthly cloths” that are absent from the wash. She inspects them, checking their stomachs, and realizes that Agnes is pregnant. Joan demands to know who the father is, and it turns into a physical altercation until Bartholomew and his brothers separate them. It’s Bartholomew that realizes it must be the Latin tutor. Joan attempts to kick Agnes out, but Bartholomew reminds her that their father willed him the house and he would not permit it. However, Agnes decides to leave anyway.

Soon, Eliza finds her brother at the market and demands that he go home immediately. Agnes is there, clearly pregnant and sitting with his parents. When he confirms that he’s the father, his mother is enraged. He expects a beating from his father, but John senses an opportunity and is actually pleased. After confirming that his son hasn’t irresponsibly fathered any more children, John goes over to the Hewlands, looking to negotiate. Bartholomew, Joan and John discuss matters, and then they eventually seal the deal with handshakes.

Chapter 5, “Hamnet starts awake, . . .”

In present day (1596), Hamnet awakes and hurries downstairs. Agnes has been looking for him and Judith. Upset and pale, he wordlessly points for her to go upstairs.

Chapter 6, “Eliza says to . . .”

(Past timeline.)

Eliza suggests to Agnes that she would like to make her wedding crown, and Agnes is pleased. Agnes is well-versed in plants, and they go together to collect flowers. In the process, Agnes feels Eliza’s hands and senses that she has lost two sisters who came before her. They talk about the first child, also named Eliza. Agnes assures her that Eliza and Anne look after each other and only wish them well. In the end, the crown is made of fern, larch and Michaelmas daisies.

The day of the wedding, Mary is busy cooking as Edmond, Gilbert and Richard (the three younger Shakespeare brothers) play around. For the ceremony itself, Joan and her three daughters (Joanie, Caterina and Margaret) walk together as they head toward church.

When they arrive, the priest (one that gave Agnes the falcon) begins to speak. Agnes thinks of her mother, hoping for an indication that she is here. As the priest says the final words and the groom steps forward, a sprig of rowan berries drops from the tree into Agnes’s hands. Bartholomew whispers a threat into the groom’s ear (“Take good care of her, Latin boy, very good care, and no harm will come to you.”) before the rings are exchanged.

Chapter 7, “Agnes moves across . . .”

In present day (1596), Hamnet frantically describes what happened with Judith to Agnes, explaining that Judith’s throat started hurting and she suddenly felt tired. Hamnet asks if she has “the pestilence”. Agnes stares at her daughter’s boils (“buboes”) with horror, knowing that these are the symptoms everyone most dreads.

Anxiously, Agnes goes to work preparing a curative mixture. She thinks over the many people who had successfully recovered thanks to this potion. When she confirms the diagnosis to Mary, Agnes knows that Mary is thinking of Anne, who died from the pestilence when she was 8.

Chapter 8, “It is past . . .”

(Past timeline.)

After midnight on their wedding night, Agnes walks around her new home, an apartment built into the side of John and Mary’s larger house. It was originally a storage area. It smells of wool which has been cleared out now, and Agnes suspects the negotiation with Bartholomew is involved somehow. Agnes is going through her possessions when her new husband walks in. She shows him a book about plants, in Latin, that belonged to her mother. She treasures it, but is unable to read it and asks him to read it to her. He agrees, but later.

Agnes’s falcon has been sent to live with her priest that originally gave it to her, though she’s still able to visit it. At her new home, Agnes helps out around the house and even makes lavender soap for them to use.

One day, little Edmond is fussing over a meal. Agnes watches as John gets up, clearly about to hit the toddler. Her husband quickly rises to get between them, but Agnes understands then why her husband is so different at their house versus when they’re alone.

Chapter 9, “Three heavy knocks . . .”

In present day (1596), a man wearing a beaked mask shows up at the door scaring Hamnet, though Agnes assures him it’s just the physician. The doctor refuses to come in, instead he says that no one in the house should leave until the pestilence is passed. He offers Agnes a dried toad as a remedy for Judith, but Agnes just mutters that he’s a “fool” after he leaves. She puts the toad away.

Chapter 10, “On a morning . . .”

(Past timeline.)

Spring of 1583, Agnes has a dream of her mother where she tells her, “The branches of the forest are so dense you cannot feel the rain.” Agnes wakes up early and jots a note to her husband, to the best of her ability, meant to read “The branches of the forest are so dense you cannot feel the rain.” Next, she goes out and chats with her friend, the baker’s wife. Then, she goes into the woods near Hewlands as she goes into labor.

At home, her husband finds Agnes missing. He sees a note on his desk, which is not something Agnes has done before, which as best as he can make out, is something like “The branches of the something are something something . . . rayne”. Soon, the whole family is searching for his missing wife, and then the whole village, too. The husband finally locates Bartholomew, who understands the meaning of the note. When the two men find Agnes in the woods, she has already given birth.

Chapter 11, “For the pestilence . . .”

The arrival of the pestilence in Warwickshire, England, in the summer of 1596, was dependent on two events happening to two people who then happened to meet. One is a glassmaker and the other is a cabin boy on a ship.

Several months prior, on the island of Murano, a master glassmaker burns his hand while making glass beads (millefiori). As a result, two of his fingers are amputated. Another worker packages up the glass beads, but he improperly packages them with rags.

Meanwhile, far away in Alexandria, a cabin boy disembarks the ship. He passes by a stall with a monkey, and the monkey crawls onto the boy. When the stall keeper snatches the monkey back, it scratches the boy’s neck and leaves three fleas behind. One of the fleas is falls onto the boy’s handkerchief and then onto one of the ship’s cats. The cat is soon sick and dies on a hammock. The flea then finds its way to the midshipman, when he reclaims his hammock. Soon, the midshipman dies. Meanwhile, more cats die, and all the cats are dead by the time the ship reaches Constantinople. Rats are everywhere. More men die, too. In Ragusa, they bring on more sailors to replace the dead sailors. And in Venice, the cabin boy is ordered to go replace the dead cats.

At the Venice dock, the master glassmaker brings boxes of cargo, glass beads, to the ship. (When the boxes tip over, the cabin boy stops them from falling, and a flea jumps onto the glassmaker. Many glassworkers soon fall ill.) On the ship, the cats sleep on the Venetian boxes, and when they die, too, fleas from their disease-ridden bodies end up in the rags in the boxes of glass beads. The ship reaches London with only five men (captain, three sailors and the cabin boy) and one cat. The cabin boy takes the cat.

A month later, the boxes of glass beads are distributed, one of which is dispatched to Warwickshire on horseback. On the way, the hungry fleas jump from the horse to the man to the various people he meets along the way. By Stratford, the fleas have laid eggs everywhere. A seamstress is waiting for the special box of Venetian beads, intended for a gown she is making. When it comes, a neighbor’s child, Judith, is curious. The seamstress lets Judith unpackage the box.

Chapter 12, “On an afternoon . . .”

(Past timeline.)

In the summer after Susanna’s birth, Agnes senses that she’s pregnant again and also that something is wrong. For her, it’s something unseen like a stench she’s able to notice. She also can tell that her husband seems sullen and unhappy. He’s basically tutoring and acting as an errand boy for his father right now, and he feels unfulfilled.

Susanna goes to talk to Bartholomew and asks him to convince John to send his son to London on business. (She knows John will not accept it unless he thinks it is his own idea. Bartholomew agrees. Agnes knows she will miss her husband but sees this as the only way to help him. He will get established there and then she will move there with Susanna shortly afterwards. She tells Bartholomew about her second pregnancy, but doesn’t plan to tell anyone else until the London arrangement is settled.

Chapter 13, “Agnes is sitting . . .”

In present day (1596), Judith is still sick. Eliza writes to her brother in London, telling him he needs to hurry home because Judith doesn’t have much time left.

Later, Hamnet awakes feeling unwell and remembers Judith is still dying. He remembers how he and Judith like to play a game where they trick other people into thinking that are one another. He decides he should play this game one last time and trick death into taking him instead of his sister. He goes and sleeps into bed next to her, determined that that he should take her place so she can live.

Chapter 14, “Susanna, shortly before . . .”

(Past timeline.)

Susanna is almost two years old now and plays on the floor as an argument breaks out among the adults. Mary is staunchly against her son going to London, but he insists that he can go there and help to expand John’s glove business. What Mary really wants is for him to stay here and for the marriage with the wild and strange Agnes to never have happened. Nevertheless, the London situation is decided.

Weeks later, Agnes prepares to bid her husband farewell. He knows about the pregnancy now, and they joke that Agnes has always said that she sensed she would have two children. She is confused that she still can’t tell whether it’s a girl or a boy. She promises to write before the baby comes so he can be there. Once he has settled in London, he’ll have them join him.

Chapter 15, “Eliza’s letter is . . .”

In present day (1596), Eliza’s letter makes its way (from a delivery boy, to an innkeeper, to the grain merchant, by cart, etc.) to a guildhall in Kent, where it is handed to its recipient, who is now working as an actor. He is distraught. With urgency, a young boy is dispatched to fetch a horse, quickly.

Chapter 16, “Towards the end . . .”

(Past timeline.)

Agnes is now nearing her due date. Recently, she’d received word from her husband that he’s secured a contract making gloves for some players (actors) at a theater. Despite her usual sense for this thing, she goes into labor unexpectedly and it catches her off guard. There is no time to write to her husband to tell him to come. She wants to leave to have the baby elsewhere, but she is stopped by Gilbert (brother in law).

As she gives birth, she is certain that something is wrong. That she will die, or the baby will die. The boy, Hamnet arrives first. Then, she realizes she is giving birth again, and a second baby comes, but it is tiny, silent and not moving. The midwife and Mary are both convinced that it is dead, but Agnes coaxes the baby to life.

After her husband finally comes home, he tells her that he’s saving money to buy a place for them to live in London. They truly believe that the family will be together in London soon. However, the baby girl, Judith, is weak and sickly. Agnes suggests that they hold off until the baby is stronger. A few months’ delay turns into two years, and soon it’s clear the move is never going to happen. By now, the husband no longer works as a glove seller, and the husband ends up using the money he saved to buy some land that will generate income.

Chapter 17, “Agnes startles awake, . . .”

In present day (1596), Agnes checks on Judith to see that both her twins are in bed. She is confused to see Hamnet is the one who is sick and barely breathing, whereas Judith has returned to a healthy color. Elsewhere, their father is on horseback traveling as fast as he can. Agnes uses every remedy on Hamnet, including the dried toad, but none of it works. Hamnet is convulsing, then motionless and then takes a final breath before he dies.

Part II

Chapter 1, “A room. Long . . .”

In present day (1596), Hamnet’s body is being laid out. The other women remind Agnes of the town’s decree that those dead from pestilence must be buried quickly, within a day. Agnes takes a lock of Hamnet’s hair. Together with Mary, they wrap him in a sheet and stitch it together, creating the shroud. Judith comes down to watch, crying and saying it is her fault that Hamnet is dead, but Agnes reassures her that it is not.

Agnes’s husband finally arrives. He’s delighted to see that Judith is well, but then sees the shroud and quickly realizes that Hamnet is missing. Agnes confirms that Hamnet has died. Hamnet’s father carries him for burial, down Henley Street and into a grave. At home the father finds the house intolerable. He sees his dead son everywhere and he misses his life in London, worried that everything he has worked for will be at risk if he stays here too long. He tells Agnes that he must leave, and she is baffled by him and upset. He leaves anyway.

For weeks Agnes mourns her son, unable to find the motivation to clean or cook. The months pass. Agnes keeps the lock of Hamnet’s hair in a jar above the fire. When the time comes to gather rosehips as autumn approaches, Judith and Susanna have to plead and prod Agnes into going with them.

In London, Agnes’s husband has written a new comedy, which the Queen enjoyed. He also writes to let them know that he won’t be home until after winter. Judith asks her sister if her resemblance to Hamnet is the reason their father stays away. Susanna assures her that people who know her well could see the differences between the two of them.

Agnes doesn’t water her herbs anymore and lets them whither, so Susanna instructs Judith to water the small patch of medicinal herbs instead. Judith also answers the knocks and asks Agnes if she wants to help. For a long time, Agnes refuses. However, when one woman comes to their door for the third time, Agnes relents and assists the woman with her ailments.

In London, her husband continues to write plays about topics that don’t remind him of what has happened. The weather has turned cool now, and he knows he should go home, but he worries that if he lets grief overtake him then he will never get back up. Instead, he stays in London where nothing can touch him. Nearly a year after his son’s death, the father finally goes home. There is a big family dinner, with all his brothers and his sister there to celebrate his return. He brings home an expensive bracelet for Agnes, but she senses that something is off. Agnes senses that he has been with other women.

That night he apologizes for everything (in a non-specific way), and he suggests that he buy a house in Stratford if Agnes thinks London is unsuitable for her and the girls. Soon, he asks Bartholomew to help him purchase a house, who agrees. Bartholomew takes Agnes to go to see a house, the largest in the entire town, and announces that it’s her new home. (On the way, Bartholomew tells Agnes about arguing with Joan because he wants to expand the farmhouse. Agnes tells him that Joan will only want if she thinks he doesn’t. Bartholomew has to pretend that he’s decided against it, that it’s too expensive. She assures him that soon Joan will demand that he do it.)

The family moves into the large house, which inspires plenty of town gossip. Their father still only visits two or three times a year (he stays for a month during plague season when all the playhouses are shut), but he loves the house. Meanwhile, the girls grow up. Judith develops an understanding of plants like her mother. Meanwhile, Susanna runs the household and helps her father with matters concerning income, rent and investments. She tries to teach Judith to read, but it doesn’t take.

A woman mentions to Judith that she had seen a spectre of Hamnet running across the passageway from their old apartment to their grandparents’ house, but only night. As a result, Judith goes at night to try to see Hamnet, even once. One night she finally senses him there, and she falls asleep in front of her grandparents’ house.

Joan shows up at the big house looking for Agnes. Agnes is on guard because she knows that Joan is unhappy and misery loves company (“Joan likes company in her perpetual dissatisfaction”). Joan eagerly imparts information about Agnes’s husband’s newest play, showing her the playbill. It’s a tragedy named after their son (Hamlet/Hamnet, as mentioned in the notes in the beginning these were used interchangeably at the time).

Agnes is very upset after hearing Joan’s information. After a while, she decides to go find her husband in London and see the play. Bartholomew goes with her. In London, they find the house where he lives. Agnes is surprised how humble it is, a room with few possessions. She sees an unfinished letter addressed to her on his desk (he has been trying to tell her about this play but has not managed to find the words). A neighbor points Agnes and Bartholomew to the playhouse, where she says he is likely to be.

They arrive at the theater just before a production of Hamlet is about to begin. She is confused at first when she realizes this play has nothing to do with Hamnet or anything else she recognizes. Agnes is about to leave when the ghost finally appears. Then, a blond boy that looks and acts like Hamnet is introduced as the character of “Hamlet”. She understands that her husband has written a play where the father is the one that dies instead of the child. In his play, “Hamlet” gets to live. (Agnes “sees that her husband, in writing this, in taking the role of the ghost, has changed places with his son. He has taken his son’s death and made it his own; he has put himself in death’s clutches, resurrecting the boy in his place.”)

The book ends with the ghost exiting his final scene with the words “Remember me.”

If this summary was useful to you, please consider supporting this site by leaving a tip ($2, $3, or $5) or joining the Patreon!

Share this post


Bookshelf -- A literary set collection game