Act I, Scene i: Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.
1. Who are the first characters we meet?
Barnardo + Francisco
2. What is the atmosphere of the scene? What evidence is there that adds to the atmosphere?
dark and moody
3. What is the story of King Hamlet as told by Horatio?
told he was a good person
4. Why would Horatio tell Hamlet and not Claudius or Gertrude?
becasue hamlet is still sulking over father’s death; does not want to be labeled insane by the royal family
5. Why do you think the ghost has come?
Act I, Scene ii: Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.
“Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark”
1. Summarize the King’s first speech in two main ideas.
will not give up land
2. What does the King grant Laertes?
The King grants Laertes to go to Paris
3. What is Hamlet’s first line? What does it mean? What does his next line mean?
a little more kin and less than kind
angry that Claudius married is mother so soon;
4. Hamlet’s first soliloquy is “O, that his too, too solid flesh would melt”. What is he angry about? Why didn’t he express this to his mother and Claudius?
insult to Claudius and Gertrude, Claudius is not a nice man
5. What and where is Wittenberg? Who goes there and why?
University in Germany
6. What does Hamlet say to Horatio about his parents’ marriage?
So soon that they could have used the food from the funeral as food for the wedding
7. What is Hamlet’s reaction to hearing his father is walking around as a ghost?
…wants to see him
Act I, Scene iii: Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.
“This above all- to thine own self be true”
Polonius to Laertes
1. Who are Polonius, Laertes, and Ophelia?
…Polonius is caretaker of the estate, Ophelia the daughter, and Laertes is the son
2. What is Laertes’ advice to Ophelia?
…be careful and not give herself up to Homlette
3. What is Polonius’ advice to Laertes?
…be true to urself; dont dress in a gawdy way
4. What is his most famous line and what does it mean?
To thy known self be true
5. How is Polonius’ advice to Ophelia different from that of Laertes? How is it the same?
…never change himself for others
6. How is Ophelia’s response to her brother different than to her father?
…different; she’s grateful for brothers advice but grudgingly obedient to his father
7. Why do we feel it necessary to give advice? What are some of the positive and negative consequences of advising people?
…unwanted, it doesnt help
Act I, Scene iv: Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
…theme of disease and unnatural for spirirt
1. What evidence is there to support the theme of the diseased and the unnatural in this scene?
Act I, Scene v: Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.
“I am thy father’s spirit”
1. Why is King Hamlet not in heaven?
…wants revenge, Suffering in purgatory
2. What is King Hamlet’s message to Hamlet about his brother? About Gertrude?
…get revenge, Kill Claudius but not harm Gertrude
3. What does Hamlet say to make us think he will act on his father’s advice immediately?
…adieu adieu remember me, I have sworn it
4. How did King Hamlet die?
King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius pours poison in his ear
5. What does Hamlet make the others promise?
He makes them swear not to reveal that he is acting crazy.
Act II, Scene i: Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.
“I did repel his letters and denied his access to me”
1. What is Polonius’ plan to find out what Laertes is doing? What does this suggest about Polonius? How does this support or contradict what we already know of him?
2. What is Ophelia’s complaint about Hamlet?
Thinks he’s gone crazy
3. What are the possible reasons for Hamlet acting this way? Consider what has just happened to him?
Just seen his father’s ghost
Just behaving crazy
4. Is Ophelia a reliable character? Can we trust her account of what happened? Why or why not?
No, because she is in love with Hamlet. Not objective
5. Why does Polonius think Hamlet is acting this way? What is his plan?
Thinks its because Ophelia has locked herself out of his life
Act II, Scene ii: Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
1. Who are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Why have they come to Elsinore?
Hamlet’s “friends” from school. Polonius and Claudius has sent for them
2. What is Voltemand’s message? What significance does it have to the overall play?
3. What do you think of the contents of Hamlet’s letter to Ophelia? Do you think he is being honest or sarcastic? Do you think he intends her to see it or does he know that she will show it to her father?
He means for her father to see it.
4. What can you surmise by the interaction between Polonius and Hamlet?
Hamlet doesn’t like Polonius
5. What insight does Hamlet’s next conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern give you about Hamlet’s state of mind?
Hamlet thinks life is a prison and Denmark is the worst part of prison, and that they are sent to spy on him
6. What is Hamlet’s opinion of the world according to his “What a piece of work is man” speech?
Humans are magnificent with their possibilities but make him sick with their decision
7. What is the significance of the player performing a piece about Pyrrhus and Hecuba?
Pyrrhus kills the queen infront of the King
8. What does this speech inspire Hamlet to do?
Inspires him to have the play performed
9. Considering that a soliloquy is a character talking to himself, what do we learn about what Hamlet is thinking by his last lines?
Believes Claudius really killed the king
Act III, Scene i: 1. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
1. What do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to the King? Is this accurate?
Hamlet is distracted and acting strangely
2. Who is spying on Hamlet and Ophelia?
Polonius and Claudius
3. Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy is one of the most famous speeches in literature. Summarize what it means. What are some other possible interpretations of this speech?
Wishes he did not have to suffer through the pain of life and wants to find out what happens after
4. What happens in the exchange between Hamlet and Ophelia? What does he tell her to do? What are some reasons for his behavior?
Hamlet will not marry her, loved her once but not anymore.
Act III, Scene ii: Elsinore. hall in the Castle.
“What, frighted with false fire?”
1. Comment on Hamlet’s behaviour before the play starts.
2. What is the jist of what the Player King and Queen say to each other? Why would Hamlet write such lines?
Love each other. King: marry again after he dies. Queen: he will never marry agian
3. What is the King’s reaction to the play?
Shocked at the reenactment of the murder
4. What is Hamlet asked to do at the end of the scene?
Go and speak with his mother
5. What is his plan (revealed in his final lines)?
Wants her mother to feel guilty
Act III, Scene iii: A room in the Castle.
“O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven”
1. What is Claudius’ first plan to get rid of Hamlet?
Send him to England and killed
2. What is Polonius’ plan?
Listen to Hamlet’s conversation with his mother
3. What is revealed in Claudius’ soliloquy?
Guilty and asks God for forgiveness but says he doesn’t deserve it
4. Why does Hamlet decide to wait to kill Claudius, even though he has a perfect opportunity?
If he kills Claudius now, he’ll go to heaven and put Hamlet to hell
Act III, Scene iv: The Queen’s closet.
“O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!”
1. What is the tone of Hamlet’s conversation with his mother?
Aggressive because she married the man who killed his father
2. Why does he stab Polonius so rashly?
Thought it was Claudius
3. What is his reaction when he discovers it is Polonius he’s killed?
He doesn’t care much. Not too disturbed
4. What does he try to convince Gertrude of?
That he’s not crazy and that Claudius killed King Hamlet
5. Why do you think the ghost returns? Why do you think Gertrude can’t see him?
Remind him of what he has to do, not harm Gertrude, kill Claudius
6. What does Hamlet tell Gertrude to do and not to do at the end of the scene? Does it echo any other advice given in the play?
Not really crazy and not to trust Claudius
7. Do you think Getrude is convinced?
8. Why is Hamlet OK with going to England on Cladius’ order?
Fed up with Claudius and his mother. Would be tried for murder
Act IV, Scene i: Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
“Mad as the sea and wind when both contend which is the mightier.”
1. What does Gertrude do immediately after the bedroom conversation? Does this reveal whether or not she believes Hamlet?
Tell Claudius. Doesn’t believe him
2. What is King Claudius’ reaction?
Shocked. Knows what Hamlet is up to now
Act IV, Scene ii: Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.
“My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the King.”
1. What does Hamlet compare Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to? Is this analogy effective?
As sponges. Follow the King’s orders unwaveringly.
Act IV, Scene iii: Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
“He will stay till you come”
1. What does Hamlet say about worms in this scene?
No matter your position, the worms will eat you anyways
2. What does Claudius want the King of England to do?
Act IV, Scene iv: Near Elsinore.
“O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!”
1. What is Fortinbras doing?
2. What effect does this have on Hamlet?
Saddened at seeing an enemy attack over an unimportant land
3. Summarize his speech at the end of this scene.
Act IV, Scene v: Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
“I would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father died.”
1. Summarize each of Ophelia’s songs. What is her concern? What are some reasons for her losing her mind? Why couldn’t she express these concerns in a more rational matter?
Hamlet was a handsome and noble and Claudius is a murderer. Hamlet was without sin.
2. What is the King’s reaction to Laertes storming the castle? Why is this the smart thing to do?
Tells Gertrude not to defend him from Laertes. He’s not the one who killed Polonius
Act IV, Scene vi: Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.
“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England. Of them I have much to tell thee.”
1. What does Hamlet say about his trip to England in his letter to Horatio?
Intercepted by pirates and jumps onto their ship as escape. Promises to reward
Act IV, Scene vii: Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.
“Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.”
1. What are the contents of Hamlet’s letter to Claudius?
2. What plan do Laertes and Claudius concoct?
Laertes and Hamlet duel.
3. What happened to Ophelia? Can we trust Gertrude’s account of what happened?
Ophelia drown in a pond. Can because Ophelia was important to her. Tells that she drowned so it doesn’t
1. List the important action that happens off-stage in this Act? For each say who reports the action to whom and make a decision about how reliable each of the accounts are. What other important action in the rest of the play at takes place off-stage?
Act V, Scene i: Elsinore. A churchyard.
1. What is the essence of the clowns’ conversation?
2. How old is Hamlet?
3. Who was Yorick?
Yorick was the court jester when Hamlet was a child
4. Hamlet’s scene holding Yorick’s skull is the most famous in Hamlet and very significant in literature. Why is it so significant?
Whoever you are, you will return to dust
5. Who is Alexander? What conclusions does Hamlet make about him?
Alexander the Great, returned to dust
6. What change comes over Hamlet during this scene?
Hamlet is concerned at the beginning, then claims he loved Ophelia more than brothers
7. Why can’t Ophelia have a more noble burial?
It was a suicide
8. Describe Laertes’ and Hamlet’s behaviour during the burial of Ophelia. Is it consistent with their behaviour so far?
Not consistent with their behavior so far. Wants to get rid of her.
Wants revenge for his father. Not rational
Act V, Scene ii: Elsinore. A hall in the Castle.
1. Knowing what you do about the rest of the play, does the duel between Hamlet and Laertes seem reasonable? What, if anything, doesn’t seem right?
Not reasonable. All the misfortune started with Claudius
2. Summarize the events of the duel.
Gertrude drinks the poisoned drink. Laertes is slain. Claudius is killed
3. What is the significance of Hamlet’s last speech? What is his last line?
Horatio to stay alive, Fortinbras to be the new king
4. What is the significance of Fortinbras coming in at the end and taking the crown?
Receives everything Hamlet has fought for