Who is on guard duty? where? Why has Horatio been asked to keep watch with the guards?
Barnardo and Francisco are on guard on the platform at Elsinore. They ask Horatio to stay so that they can show him the ghost that has been appearing before them.
What is the political situation in Denmark and Norway that has caused the present state of national unrest?
Hamlet’s father had just taken the lands of Fortinbras and he wants to reclaim those lands after his death.
What superstitions about ghosts are revealed in the behavior and conversation of Horatio and the guards?
Ghosts were known to have serious power back in this time period. It is natural that the guards would be afraid that the ghost was haunting them.
After failing to get any information from the Ghost, what action does Horatio propose?
Horatio proposes that they bring Hamlet to talk to the ghost because the ghost won’t talk to them. Since Hamlet is his son, maybe the ghost will speak to him.
What three matters of business does King Claudius take up at his first Council session?
During the meeting, he announces his marriage to Gertrude, allows Laertes to return to France, and dispatches ambassadors to Norway to halt a threatened attack from Fortinbras.
How does Claudius word his speech to the court so as to win approval for his hasty marriage and takeover of the throne?
Claudius wants to try and balance out the sadness with happiness by marrying Gertrude.
Why are Claudius and Gertrude critical of Hamlet’s dress and behavior? What is Hamlet’s response?
They say that he should not mourn because the matter is already over. Halmet tells them that they should have mourned more.
How does Hamlet show contempt for Claudius?
Hamlet refuses to recognize the marriage between Claudius and Gertrude.
A soliloquy is a dramatic convention in which a character voices thoughts while alone on stage. What does Hamlet’s first soliloquy (lines 129-159) reveal about his state of mind and the real reasons for it?
Hamlet was suicidal at the time of this soliloquy. He feels like he has lost his purity because of the death of his father. He also wishes that suicide wasn’t a sin, so that he may be able to commit it. He also wishes that people mourned more for his father.
What is Laertes’s advice to Ophelia?
Laertes tells Ophelia not to marry Hamlet because Hamlet will have to marry someone for family reasons, not true love.
What is Ophelia’s advice to Laertes?
Ophelia basically tells him to practice what he preaches.
Judging by his words and actions in this scene, what kind of person Polonius reveal himself to be?
Polonius reveals himself to not being very intellectual
What command does Polonius give Ophelia concerning Hamlet?
Polonius tells Ophelia not to associate herself with Hamlet anymore because Hamlet has decieved her. She should see right through him and ignore his affections.
What is going on in the castle while Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus await the Ghost?
Claudus is drinking during this time.
What does the Ghost reveal to be the true circumstances of his death?
The Ghost reveals that Claudius killed him by poisoning him.
List the three specific commands of the Ghost to Hamlet. Can they be accomplished?
First, the Ghost tells Hamlet to seek revenge, not harm his mother. Yes, they can be accomplished by killing Claudius
What does Hamlet make Horatio and Marcellus promise?
Hamlet makes them promise that they will not tell anybody of his intentions to seek his revenge on Claudius or any of his other actions.
What two tasks does Polonius ask Reynaldo to accomplish on his trip to Paris?
Polonius asks Reynaldo to give him the notes and money he has given him, and to spy on Laertes.
For what two purposes have Claudius and Gertrude summoned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Denmark?
Claudius and Gertrude want them to spy on Hamlet and be their connection to them. Also, they want to discover the reasons for his madness as well as cheer Hamlet up.
According to Voltimand and Cornelius, how has the threat of Fortinbras to Denmark been eliminated?
Voltimand and Cornelius talked to the King of Norway and the king said that he rebuked Fortinbras for staging an attack against Denmark, and Fortinbras said that he would never again attack Denmark.
How does Polonius make himself laughable in his report to Claudius and Gertrude on the probable cause of Hamlet’s madness?
Polonius says that the cause of Hamlet’s madness is because of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia.
How does Polonius propose to test his theory about Hamlet’s madness?
Polonius proposes a confrontation between Hamlet and Ophelia while they hide to see if this is true.
What different reasons for Hamlet’s behavior are suggested by Claudius and Gertrude, by Polonius, and by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
Polonius believes that the cause of Hamlet’s behavior was because of his love for Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern believe that Hamlet is upset by the recent affairs in Denmark, and Claudius and Gertrude suggest that Hamlet’s behavior is caused by Hamlet’s father’s death.
In the “fishmonger” scene (lines 171-225), how does Hamlet make fun of Polonius and at the same time warn him about Ophelia?
Hamlet pretty much calls Polonius a pimp wihtout Polonius even knowing it. Also, he also calls Ophelia a slut in a way.
At what point in their conversation does Hamlet realize Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spies, and how does he indirectly tell them he no longer trusts them?
Hamlet accuses the two of being sent by Claudius and Gertrude because he can see through the deception of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
In what ways is Aeneas’s tale to Dido, which Hamlet asks the First Player to recite, comparable to Hamlet’s personal situation?
Both stories deal with the death of a king.
Closely analyze Hamlet’s long soliloquy (“O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!”) that ends this act. What motivates this speech, and what comparison does Hamlet make between himself and the actor? How does he feel about his own behavior, and what action does he now resolve to take?
The actor moves Hamlet after his story of Hecuba. He feels like he should have shown more emotion because he was directly related to his father who died, and the actor showed more emotion than he did.
Although Hamlet bitterly denounces himself as “a rogue and peasant slave” and takes himself harshly to task for apathy and inaction, how does he nevertheless demonstrate intellect and moral superiority?
Even though he is extremely mad in this scene, he is still able to clear his mind and make a good decision on how to kill Claudius.
What human grieves, according to Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy, would suicide spare one from enduring? What reason does Hamlet give for refraining from suicide?
The human grieves include outrageous fortune and a sea of troubles. Hamlet refrains from suicide because he doesn’t know what will happen in the afterlife.
What reason does Ophelia give for returning Hamlet’s presents?
She says that the nice gifts end up not being so nice when the person that gives them to you turns out to be not nice.
In his encounter with Ophelia, how does Hamlet demonstrate his conviction that “Frailty, thy name is woman”?
Hamlet is able to do whatever he wants to Ophelia at this point, including pushing her around, and this shows that she is very submitting.
How does Hamlet contrive to watch Claudius and Gertrude as they watch the play? What task does he assign Horatio?
Hamlet thinks that making Claudius and Gertrude watch the play will show whether or not Claudius actually killed Hamlet’s father. He asks Horatio to watch them so that he can prove that he is not crazy.
What does Polonius intend to do while Hamlet is meeting with his mother?
Polonius wants to spy on them behind a curtain.
Identify two instances in this act where Claudius reveals that the murder of his brother weighs on his conscience.
Claudius seems guilty during the play, and when he prays for forgiveness even though he doesn’t want to give up any of the things that he has.
What are Hamlet’s instructions to the players? Why does he lecture them in such extensive detail? What is the purpose of playing?
Hamlet tells the players to make their act very believable so that Claudius will feel guilty.
How does Hamlet treat Ophelia as they sit together at the play?
Hamlet acts dirty when they sit together at the play.
What causes Gertrude to remark, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”?
The woman in the play is mourning too much over the death of her husband and she didn’t do that for Hamlet’s father.
What point is Hamlet trying to make by forcing Guildenstern to play a recorder?
He is trying to say that Guildenstern cannot play the recorder, so why does he try to play Hamlet?
What is Hamlet’s mood at the end of this scene, as expressed in his brief soliloquy?
Hamlet is ready to kill Claudius. He also says that he will not harm his mother physically, but instead with words.
Why does Claudius have such difficulty trying to pray?
Claudius realizes that in order to have forgiveness, he has to give up all of the things he has received from his sin, which he cannot do.
Why doesn’t Hamlet kill Claudius when he has the opportunity? What makes this scene highly ironic?
Hamlet doesn’t want to kill Claudius when he is with God because he doesn’t want him to go to heaven. This is ironic because Claudius wasn’t truly praying, but instead realizing his sin and sticking with it. He would not have gone to heaven in Hamlet had killed him.
What causes Gertrude to cry for help?
Gertrude thinks that Hamlet is going to murder her.
How is Polonius’s death a predictable conclusion to his life?
Polonius died blindly behind a curtain and didn’t know it was coming. This is predictable because he is a very “blind” person and doesn’t get the ridicule that Hamlet gives to him.
In holding up a “mirror” to his mother, what faults does Hamlet force her to see?
Hamlet shows Gertrude how submitting she is. She is dirty because she married her ex-husbands brother and sleeps with him.
Why does the Ghost make reappearance?
The ghost reappears to remind Hamlet that he still has to revenge his death.
What actions does Claudius take after learning of Polonius’s death?
Claudius fetches for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England and find the body of Polonius
How would you describe Hamlet’s behavior when he is face-to-face with Claudius following Polonius’s death?
Hamlet is seemingly normal right now. He still makes his jokes and ridicules that nobody picks up on.
What kind of entrance does Laertes make into the castle? Why?
Laertes enters the castle enraged and ready to kill whoever killed his father. He just wants to avenge his father’s death.
How valuable is the land in Poland Fortinbras hopes to gain by going to war?
The land has almost no worth to it
In his soliloquy, what comparison does Hamlet draw between himself and Fortinbras? How is this soliloquy similar in motivation and ideas to the “O what a rogue and peasant slave” speech at the end of Act Two?
He sees that he and Fortinbras share the same desire to avenge their fathers’ deaths. They are both equally motivated and have clear thoughts even in the midst of madness.
What has happened to Ophelia? What reason does Claudius give for what has happened?
She had gone mad because of the death of her father.
What news of Hamlet does Horatio receive? Where are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
Hamlet is returning on a pirate ship and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are still on their way to England.
Summarize the plot to kill Hamlet that the King and Laertes have devised.
The King and Laertes plot that Laertes will fight him in a fencing match, but with a poisoned tip on his sword. If that doesn’t work, then Claudius will put a pearl in Hamlet’s wine which will be poisoned.
Is Ophelia’s drowning an accident or suicide?
Ophelia wasn’t completely there when she died. I think this incident was an accident because she was crazy.
As this act reveals, Claudius is a formidable antagonist, cool under fire and highly treacherous. What techniques does he use to win over the impetuous and gullible Laertes?
He convinces Laertes that his plan for killing Hamlet will not fail and the reasons he gives Laertes to not punish Hamlet.
Though Laertes has justification for his grief and anger, what is deplorable about his overall behavior in response to his family’s misfortunes?
He is very rash in his decisions to kill whoever killed his father at first, and then Hamlet.
What does Hamlet find offensive about the behavior of the gravedigger?
The gravedigger is messing with Hamlet at first, just like how Hamlet messes with other people.
What dramatic purposes are served by starting this act with the graveyard scene?
It sets the tone for death because everyone ends up dying in this act.
What do you think is Shakespeare’s purpose in having Hamlet go through this reflection on the nature of life?
It shows Hamlet that death is a cycle for everyone and that we are all going to the same place.
What ironic discovery does he then make?
He discovers that all men will turn to dust.
What provokes Laertes’ outburst of anger to the priest officiating at Ophelia’s funeral?
The priest says that a proper Christian burial is not proper for Ophelia, because she committed suicide. This is what angers Laertes.
What causes the fight between Hamlet and Laertes at Ophelia’s grave?
Hamlet came out to profess his love for Ophelia and to show Laertes that his love for Ophelia was stronger towards her that his.
Why does Hamlet express regret for his behavior to Laertes?
Hamlet sees the mirror-image of how Laertes wants to revenge his fathers death, so he feels his pain.
What wager has Claudius made? What must Hamlet do to win it?
Claudius says that if Hamlet can get the first two hits, or come back on the third, he will make his soldiers salute to him and give him a very expensive pearl.
How does the poison get into the cup?
The pearl was poisoned that Claudius put in the cup
In what sense can both Laertes and Hamlet be regarded as victors?
Both men avenge their father’s death.
Why does Horatio attempt to drink from the poisoned cup? How does Hamlet convince him not to?
Horatio is very Roman, and in Roman tradition, they would rather die with someone important than by their enemy’s sword. Hamlet tells Horatio that he needs him to tell his story to the people because he doesn’t want to leave behind a bad reputation.
In the few minutes that he is King, what does Hamlet accomplish?
Hamlet gives the throne to Fortinbras