Hamlet Act 3- Notes/Key Events

Act 3, Scene I Summary After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and Claudius may secretly observe a meeting between her and Hamlet. Hamlet is at first courteous to Ophleia, but suddenly he turns on her: he denies having loved her, asks where her father is, attacks womankind, and tells her she should enter a nunnery. After Hamlet exits, Claudius decides that Hamlet’s erratic behavior is not causes by love and announces a plan to send Hamlet on an embassy to England. Polonius persuades Claudius to take no action until Gertrude talks with Hamlet after the play, which is scheduled for that evening.
Why does Claudius want to be left alone? So he and Polonius can watch Hamlet and Ophelia interact
What do Claudius and Polonius overhear Hamlet discussing? Whether or not to commit suicide.
What does Ophelia give Hamlet? All the gifts he has given her
Why does Hamlet call women dishonest? Because they wear make-up and deceive men
What does Claudius say he will do to Hamlet/ Send him to England
Act 3, Scene II Summary Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the court arrive, Hamlet makes bawdy and bitter comments to Ophelia. The traveling actors perform, in dumb show and then with dialogue, a story that includes many elements of Claudius’s alleged seduction of Gertrude and murder of King Hamlet. At the moment that the Player King is murdered in his garden by his nephew, Claudius stops the play and rushes out. Hamlet is exuberant that the Ghost’s word has been proved true. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern return to tell Hamlet that Claudius is furious and that Gertrude wishes to see Hamlet at once in her sitting room. Hamlet promises himself that he will not harm her, though he will “speak daggers”.
What does Hamlet ask Horatio to do during the play? Watch Claudius’s reactions
How does Hamlet tease Ophelia? He makes inappropriate sexual jokes.
What does Hamlet do during the performance? He explains everyone’s behavior.
What is Claudius’s reaction to the play? He yells and leaves.
Who sends for Hamlet after the play? Gertrude.
Act 3, Scene III Summary Claudius orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. Polonius tells Claudius of his plans to spy on Hamlet’s conversation with Gertrude. Left alone, Claudius reveals his remorse for killing his brother, and he tries to pray. Hamlet comes upon him kneeling and draws his sword, but then stops to think that if he kills Claudius at prayer, Claudius will go to Heaven. Hamlet decides to kill Claudius when the king is committing a sin so that Claudius will instead go to hell. After Hamlet leaves, Claudius rises, saying that he has been unable to pray.
What does Claudius want Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do with Hamlet? Take him to England
Who plans to spy on Gertrude and Hamlet? Polonius
What does Claudius feel guilty for? Killing his brother
Why does Hamlet refrain from killing Claudius when he has the opportunity to? Claudius is praying
When does Hamlet plan to kill Claudius? When he is sinning
Act 3, Scene IV Summary In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius echoes her cry, and Hamlet, thinking Polonius to be Claudius, stabs him to death. Hamlet then verbally attacks his mother for marrying Claudius. In the middle of Hamlet’s attack, the Ghost returns to remind Hamlet that his real purpose is to avenge his father’s death. Gertrude cannot see that Ghost and pities Hamlet’s apparent madness. After the Ghost exits, Hamlet urges Gertrude to abandon Claudius’s bed. He then tells her about Claudius’s plan to send him to England and reveals his suspicions that the journey is a plot against him, which he resolves to counter violently. He exits dragging out Polonius’s body.
Why does Polonius want to eavesdrop on Hamlet? So that he can find out why Hamlet is angry and upset
What does Hamlet accuse his mother of? Betraying his father
Why does Hamlet kill Polonius? Because he mistakes Polonius for Claudius
Why does Gertrude think Hamlet is mad? Because he appears to be talking to himself (but he’s really talking to the Ghost)
What message does the ghost bring Hamlet? To remember that he has not yet gotten revenge

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