William Tell lived in a canton governed by Gessler. Gessler was a very proud and arrogant man. He set up his hat on the top of a building in the town square and decreed that everyone who passed the hat must bow down to it. Everyone was afraid of Gessler; therefore, all bowed down to the hat for fear of consequences. That is, except for someone named Tell.
William Tell did not bow down to the hat (and also did not bow to Gessler himself). Gessler's spies notified Gessler of Tell's transgression, and Gessler arrested Tell and his son, who happened to be with him.
Now Tell was known to be a very skilled hunter and marksman. Gessler wanted to know whether this was true and wanted to humiliate Tell yet again. So, Gessler challenged Tell to a special shot and told him that if he could shoot an apple off the head of his son, then he and his son would be set free. Tell pleaded with Gessler not to do this, but Gessler was stone hard and said that if Tell did not do it, Gessler would kill Tell's son.
Well, Tell completed this wondrous feat by shooting the apple straight of the head of his son. Then, Gessler asked him why he was carrying two arrows instead of just the one that he needed. Tell responded that if he harmed his son, he would shoot Gessler through the heart with the other arrow.
At this, Gessler was very mad, so he chained Tell to a ship and sent him away to his castle to be locked up forever. During their journey, there arose a big storm. The sailors were afraid of losing their lives, so they freed Tell to help them. Tell miraculously drove the ship back home. As the ship stopped, Tell immediately took a spear and charged to where Gessler lived. Then, he shot Gessler through the heart with the other arrow.
After this, William Tell participated in an uprising against the Hapsburgs dynasty.