Hamlet Act 3 Study Guide

What message do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carry to the King? What is the King’s response. After speaking to Hamlet, R & G tell the King and Queen he is not himself, but they do not know the source of his strange behavior. He does make sure they invite the King to watch the play. The King and Polonius plot to have Hamlet speak to Ophelia while they hide and listen. This way they will learn whether Hamlet’s madness is derived from lovesickness.
What are the main points of Hamlet’s famous Act 3, Scene 1 “To be or not to be…” soliloquy? Hamlet is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Should he live and suffer the hardships that have been bestowed upon him, or should he end his life,and thus end his suffering? The fear of the unknown, the “undiscovered country,” keeps Hamlet from leaving this world. He observes that this fear of what happens in the afterlife turns people into cowards, and action into inaction.
Describe Hamlet’s tone and language when he speaks to Ophelia. What does he mean when he says, “Get thee to a nunnery” to Ophelia? When Ophelia tries to return Hamlet’s gifts, he denies having ever given them. He tells her he loved her once, then later says he never loved her. He asks if she is honest “virtuous,” then tells her to get to a “nunnery” rather than become a “breeder of sinners.” Does he want to make sure she lives as a nun, and never becomes a mother – because he is so angry with his own mother? Is he referring to her as a prostitute since he referred to her father as a “fish monger?’ Does he know Claudius is hiding and is continuing his “crazy” act? …or is he just angry with women in general, and therefore takes it out on poor Ophelia?
What do the King and Polonius decide about Hamlet’s condition after eavesdropping on Hamlet and Ophelia? Claudius thinks Hamlet neither loves Ophelia nor is mad. He believes Hamlet is “brooding” on something, and that his state of mind will lead to danger. He decides to send Hamlet to England. Polonius is still unsure. He convinces Claudius to allow Polonius to hide in Gertrude’s room where he will spy again on a conversation between the Queen and Hamlet. If he is indeed mad, then off to England he’ll go.
What is the purpose of the play Hamlet is putting on? What is he hoping to accomplish? Hamlet insists the actors not over act, but do a realistic job of their performance. He tells Horatio of his plan to watch Claudius carefully while the players mirror the Ghost’s description of Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet. If Claudius looks guilty, Hamlet will be reaffirmed of Claudius’s guilt.
What was the King’s reaction to the play, and what did Hamlet and Horatio decide his reaction meant? When the villain in the play pours poison into Player King’s ear, Claudius jumps from his seat, calls for light, and rushes from the room. Hamlet tell Horatio that Claudius’s reaction proves the Ghost was telling the truth.
What message does Rosencrantz deliver from the Queen? He tells Hamlet that his mother wishes to see him.
The King has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prepare for what? The King requests that R & G to escort Hamlet to England.
Why does Claudius want to repent? How does the King feel about himself? Is there evidence to support whether he feels any guilt? Claudius cries out that his “offense is rank!” He wants to pray, but doesn’t see how he can ask forgiveness when he possesses the spoils ( a Queen wife and the crown) of the murder, neither of which he wants to give up. Still, he kneels to pray.
Why doesn’t Hamlet kill the King when the King is kneeling? Hamlet draws his sword but hesitates. It occurs to him that if he kills Claudius as he is praying, then Claudius will go to heaven. He wants Claudius to suffer for his sin – suffer more than the purgatory his poor father must endure. Hamlet decides to delay once again until Claudius is sinning to kill him. (…or is Hamlet just not able to commit a murder, and is kidding himself that he can commit this act at a later time?)
How does Polonius die? How does Hamlet feel about Polonius’ death? Hamlet finally chooses action over inaction! When he realizes there is someone hiding behind his mother’s curtain he stabs through the tapestry with his sword. He most likely believes Claudius is behind the curtain. (…does he suddenly get the guts to commit the murder because it’s easier to stab someone when you don’t see the results?) Does Hamlet truly go mad at this point? After realizing he actually killed Polonius, Hamlet seems to have little, if any, remorse. Hamlet calls him a “rash, intruding fool.”
What would Hamlet have his mother do? Gertrude tells Hamlet he has offended his father (meaning Claudius). Hamlet tells his mother she’s offended his father (King Hamlet). After Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius, Hamlet insults his mother further. The Ghost, appears and reminds Hamlet to spare the Queen. Hamlet urges Gertrude to confess her sins and refrain from further intimacy with the King.

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