They are the soldiers of the guard of the royal Palace of the King of Denmark. They appear at the beginning of the scene and they are the first ones who see the ghost. Francisco is a marginal character in the plot and he doesn’t know about the existence of the ghost. Unlike Francisco, Barnardo sees the ghost, but he isn’t very important in the history and in its development. Marcellus is the most important. In fact, he informs Horatio of the apparitions and accompanies him to see the ghost. During the meeting with the ghost, Marcellus gets him to speak and he tries to hit it but the ghost disappears because a cock crows. Marcellus, being superstitious, believes the ghost is an evil spirit. He is certain the ghost will speak to him.
Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, has decided to invade Denmark to recover the lands lost by his father. His father was killed by old king Hamlet 30 years before and Denmark took possession of a part of Norway. Like king Hamlet, king Fortinbras has been succeeded as king not by his son but by his brother. The movements of both nephews are controlled by their uncles; in fact, Claudius, at the beginning of the story, writes to the king of Norway to suppress young Fortinbras’s threatened invasion of Denmark. At the end of the play he has more than realised his ambition . He has become king of Denmark, after the duel between Hamlet and Laertes in which Hamlet, Claudius, Laertes, and Gertrude died.
Rosencrantz and Guilderstern, two old university friends of Hamlet’s, are entrusted by Claudius to spy on Hamlet and to understand if his madness is true or false. Hamlet, immediately, makes them confess that they were spying on him, as Claudius asked them to do. They justify their visit saying that they want to see him, but, because of the confession, Hamlet can confirm his suspect: now he is sure enough to think that Claudius is conspiring against his life.