Hamlet Act 1 questions (from online sources)

What happens when Francisco and Bernardo meet at the beginning of 1.1? Where are we, and when? Why is there confusion over which one is supposed to challenge the other by asking “Who’s there”? Why is Horatio with Bernardo and Marcellus? Who is he? 1. Fransisco awaits for Bernardo to relieve him of duty after midnight 2. Elsinore, Denmark, medieval times3. They are both equally ranked guards, probably suspicious of the other and also apparitions have been seen, so they are weary4. They want Horatio to see the apparition that appeared, Horatio is again Hamlet’s BFF
What is Horatio’s initial response to the story of the apparition? What happens when the ghost appears for the first time? Notice that Horatio addresses it as “thou.” This is the form of address used with friends or inferiors. Shakespeare’s audience would have been much more attuned to the difference than we are. What is the effect of Horatio’s addressing the ghost as “thou”? 1. He dismisses it, doesn’t believe2. Bernardo account the ghost looks similar to King Hamlet3. The ghost leaves abruptly, and the guards point out that Horatio’s use of “thou” offended the ghost to leave
What is Horatio’s initial response to the story of the apparition? What happens when the ghost appears the first time? When Horatio was first told about the appearance of the apparition, he was skeptical. When the ghost was first sighted, Bernardo remarks that the ghost looks similar to the King Hamlet, and Marcellus reasons with Horatio that he should address the ghost. Horatio reacts to the ghost with tormenting fear and surprise, but does note that the ghost looks like the King Hamlet
What does Horatio first assume the appearance of the ghost means? Why are there such intense war preparations in Denmark? (What does Horatio suggest by his discussion of Julius Caesar’s death? Why does he choose the example of Rome? Why is the passage set off and in italics? 1. Thinks that something bad is going to happen, (this refers to the “Chain of Being” its been corrupted 2. Believed that King Hamlet was challenged by King Fortinbras, thus killing him and taking his land. With young Fortinbras in rage, he claims to get the land back. 3. He connects this story Julius Caesar, because he thinks the fall of King Hamlet will lead the end of this land. Both Caesar and Hamlet are prideful in nature which causes them to take risks.
What happens when the ghost appears for the second time? Why does it leave so abruptly? The questions Horatio asks it represent, according to the thought of the time, the reasons why a ghost could appear. 1. Horatio asks why the Ghost has come 2. It begins to leave and the guards begin to throw their weapons at it. They claim the ghost left because they used violence, but Horatio mentions it was the cry of the rooster.
What do we know so far about the nature of the ghost? Do we know yet if it is a “good” ghost (i.e., “really” the spirit of the person it appears to be) or a “damned” ghost (a devil or evil spirit in the shape of the person it appears to be)? 1. All we know is the ghost appears after midnight and leaves at dawn when the rooster crows2. There is no possible way at this point we know the ghost is evil or good.
What is Claudius telling the court in the first part of his speech? What does he say about young Fortinbras and his uncle the king of Norway? How is Claudius responding to the threat? (You may also want to keep in mind that the name “Claudius” appears only in the opening stage direction for 1.2. The name is never spoken in the play. He is simply “the King.”) 1. Tells how sorrowful he is about using his brother 2. Young Fortinbras reminds him of his own ignorance and refuses his demand to reclaim back his lands3. He responds by sending a message to the King of Norway (Fortinbras uncle) about his plan and to stop Fortinbras to move any further
What does Laertes want from the King? How does Claudius respond to him? Based on his first 64 lines in office, how would you rate Claudius as a ruler? In what ways does he already differ from Old Hamlet as king? (Consider how Old Hamlet would have responded to Young Fortinbras.) 1. To return back to France 2. Claudius agrees and also gets approval from Polonius 3. The big difference is that King Hamlet was very prideful and warlike as to Claudius who takes the Fortinbras issue into diplomatic measures by forcing someone else to do the dirty work instead of physically confronting Fortinbras himself.
What do Claudius and Gertrude want Hamlet to do that he doesn’t want to do? What won’t they let him do it? How does he respond to them? How do they respond to the way he responds to them? (You probably know three names associated with the University of Wittenberg in Germany: Martin Luther, Doctor Faustus, and Hamlet. Can you see any connections among the three?) Claudius and Gertrude ask him to stay in Elsinore, and not go back to the University of Wittenberg. Hamlet only responds to his mother. Claudius then responds to Hamlet how kind is he (despite being degraded) and a feast will take place in honor of his marriage to Gertrude. Martin Luther created a whole new religion after being separated from Catholicism. This connects to Hamlet following the ghost orders while trying to keep faith to his own religion, not to kill.
How seriously do you take Claudius’ argument against Hamlet’s “prolonged” mourning ? How long has Hamlet been mourning? (The normal mourning period of a noble or gentle woman for a dead husband at this time [ca. 1600] was a year or more.) Claudius statement to Hamlet’s mourning is ridiculous. Hamlet has been mourning for 2 months
Read Hamlet’s first soliloquy carefully. What is it that is really bothering him about what has happened since his father’s death? How would you describe the tone of his feelings detached, impassioned, rational, ironic, or what? Hamlet is more confused than angry. He debates whether he should be happy or upset about his mother’s marriage, he’s too uncomfortable to respond to it, so he uses his father’s death as a reason to be upset
What is Hamlet’s response to the news from Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo? Notice the way Hamlet questions them. How much do we know about how his mind works at this point of the play? What does he suspect as the reason for the ghost’s appearance? 1. Hamlet doesn’t need any persuasive, quickly believes, and asks very specific questions 2. Hamlet is very responsive to the supernatural despite having second thoughts about the ghost’s motives, 3. Hamlet then suspects foul play as the reason.
What does Laertes warn Ophelia about? What, apparently, has been the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia since his return from Wittenberg? Not to be too attached to Hamlet for falling in love with him will end in heartbreak, to keep Hamlet at arms length. Hamlet seems to love her but have not made it publicly known.
How seriously do you take Polonius’ precepts? Consider especially the last one. Polonius advice to his son seems brief and quick and they are virtues he should apply to his life and learn by. His last piece of advice mentions how people in France judge others how they dress and he should pick clothes with thought, his statement seems so materialistic.
How willing is Ophelia to discuss with her father what she has discussed with Laertes? What is his response to Hamlet’s interest in her and her response to him? How seriously should she take their warnings about Hamlet’s lack of seriousness and his inability to choose his own wife? 1. Ophelia is reluctant to have this conversation but remains dutiful to him2. He demands information about their relationship and calls her naive and ignorant 3. Ophelia should take their advice seriously, since Hamlet is more concerned about family matters than her
What do we know about Laertes, Polonius, and Ophelia by the end of 1.3? What sort of people are they? What sort of family are they? Who is missing from this family? How strong-willed in Ophelia? 1. They are all trying to protect Ophelia for her own sake.2. Ophelia and Laertes have a strong bond w/ each other while Polonius is the strict one protecting their honor3. They are simply a family that looks out for each other4. The mother figure is missing 5. Ophelia is strongwilled but only away from father, she develops a rebellious stage despite being what’s told of her.
Why do the trumpets and cannons sound, according to Hamlet? What does Hamlet think of the custom? 1. This signifies “drinking the night away” for the celebration of Claudius and Gertrude’s marriage. 2. He treats this custom in a negative way, Denmark’s drunken behavior is the reason for its deteriorating reputation by foreign countries.
What is Hamlet saying in 1.4. 18-22? In this part of the passage, Hamlet is talking about the dissarray that his coutnry, Denmark, is in all due to the customs being endorsed by King Claudius. Hamlet continues to describe how the reputation of Denmark ( All the Pretty Horses) has been tainted and is quickly deteriorating.
Is Hamlet surprised when the Ghost asks him to revenge his father’s murder? Is he surprised when he learns who the murderer is? 1. Hamlet quickly promises revenge despite knowing the whole story 2. Hamlet knew beforehand that Claudius was a villain so he takes credit for this realization
Do father and son have the same opinion of Claudius? Would others in the court, not knowing about Claudius’ crime, see Claudius as this much below his dead brother? 1. Both think of him as a selfish, wicked person, so yes2. With King Claudius being the only one who knows about his murderer and Hamlet as the only who despises the marriage, the court would see Claudius above his brother.
How does Claudius kill King Hamlet? He poured poison in his ear while his was napping in the garden. Serpent represents Claudius
What did the ghost tell Hamlet to do about his mother? Unlike his uncle, the Ghost told Hamlet to leave his mother to face justice after she dies naturally. Hamlet has been ordered to simply leave his guilt mother alone so she might be found in her guilt in the afterlife, an almost equally harsh sentence.
Read Hamlet’s second soliloquy. What does Hamlet say he has learned? In other words, what general piece of wisdom does he want to save from this encounter? Is this shockingly new information to us? Or is Hamlet just becoming “grown up”? (When did you first learn that you couldn’t always trust people?) ] Compare the same movement he makes from the specific person Gertrude to “frailty, thy name is woman.” Given this soliloquy, how soon would you expect Hamlet to go for his revenge? 1. Claudius is the cause of his father’s death 2. He repeats over again to remember the words of his father and this encounter3. Nope, seeing how Claudius is villainous and the fast marriage (lots of red flags) 4. He damns his mother for marrying her husband’s killer (but we still don’t know if Gertrude was in the know)5. Rather quickly to go for revenge, consider his mourning over his father and his fascination with the supernatural
What happens when the others find Hamlet? What does he ask them to swear? What does his mention of an “antic disposition” suggest about his future plans? How might you expect Hamlet to be acting when next we see him? 1. Hamlet has changed moods completely to one of excitement and madness 2. Swear by the sword not to mention of this night 3. Hamlet believes he will act irrationally when avenging his father’s death, which attributes to the madness

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