Hamlet Study Guide

5 Acts 1) Beginning (Ghost orders revenge)2) Rising Action (Hamlet acts mad3) Turning Point (Hamlet does things: puts on play, berates his mother, kills Polonius4) Counterstroke (Events conspire against Hamlet while he sails to England:Fortinbras, Ophelia, Laertes)5) Resolution (Hamlet apologizes, kills king, dies)
Hamlet’s attitude toward women Perhaps the best one-line summation of Hamlet’s attitude towards women is where he concludes an early soliloquy with the words: “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Act 1, Scene 1, line 146) He has come to this conclusion because of his mother’s infidelity to her death husband. He thinks she married Claudius, not because she was wicked, but because she was weak and therefore easily persuaded.
Tragic Flaws It’s an inherest personality trrait or set of traits that inevitably dooms the character to destructionHamlet’s tragic flaws: 1) Overthinks
A Literary Foil A character that shows qualities that are in contrastwith the qualities of another character with the objective to highlight the traits of the other character Laertes is a foil to Hamlet because he took action for his father instead of waiting like Hamlet
Themes 1) Revenge2) Action/Inaction3) Death/Suicide4) Madness/Disease
Revenge There’s a code of conduct in Hamlet’s society which demands revenge if one’s honor is violatedRelgion opposes revenge, which would mean that revenge could endanger Hamlet’s soulHamlet suggets the reasons for revenge becomes muddy and the idea of justice confused
Action/Inaction The play centers on revenge, but Hamlet can’t actually bring himself to take revengeThere are characters that act with little hesitiation, but Hamlet pauses, contemplates, and continuously delays his quests Neither course are effectiveEx: Laertes acts quickly, is mainpulated, and diesGertrude marries quickly and diesHamlet acts slowly and dies
Suicide Suicide link Hamlet and OpheliaHamlet thinks deeply about it and contemplates Ophelia contemplates itHamlet suggests that were it not for the social stigma attached to suicide by religious authorities and the unknown nature of whatever happens after death, there would be a lot of self slaughter1 major issue of Hamlet is whether or not Ophelias death was accidental or a suicide
Madness/Disease Madness is at the heart of the playAn impossible mystery in which there are many unanswered questions is Does Hamlet truly go mad or is it an act? Hamlet’s mental state and erratic behavior adds to the atmosphere of uncertainty and doubtDenmark itself is diseased and corrupted
Symbols 1) Yorick’s skull (death or a reminder)2) The Murder of Gonzago (play within a play is significant in that it represents the murder of the king)3) The flowers given by Ophelia (in her disillusionment she believes that the weeds she holds are vibrant flowers of rosemary, pansies, daisies, fennel, columbine, and rue
Motifs 1) Ear/hearing2) Disease3) Poison4) Deception (spies)5) Death
Shakespeare Play Basics Each play = 5 acts Minimal stage directions, left performer to determine Rhyming couplets at the end of scenes Often ends in rhyming couplet to mark a narrative shift Weren’t intended to be in books, only as playsCharacters sometimes have asides (a line spoken so the audience can hear but the other characters can’t, explains their thoughts/motivations/background situations) and soliloquies (long speeches by themselves, same as asides but the character is alone and it is longer)
Couplet 2 adjacent lines of verse that rhyme with each other
What type of style did Shakespeare write in? Iambic Pentameter (a line of poetry with syllabic patter)”Iamb” = 2 syllables (1st = unstressed 2nd = stressed)Pentameter = 5 iambs in a lineLine = 10 syllablesUsed for most of his characters and also has an element of classSome characters speak in prose (normal speech)when he wants to set them apart as lower class and comedic purposesTo be or not to be = iambic
Shakespeare Language Thou = you (subject of sentence) – used with est (Thou speakest) – eth (used for he, she, it , patience runneth)Thee = you (object of sentence, give it to thee)Thy = your (before a word starting with a consonant)Thine = your (before a word starting with a vowel)Ye = you (as a subject of a sentence for more than 1 person)
O that this too too solid flesh would melt,Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!Or that the Everlasting had not fix’dHis canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitableSeem to me all the uses of this world!Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,That grows to seed; things rank and gross in naturePossess it merely. That it should come to this!But two months dead! — nay, not so much, not two:So excellent a king; that was, to this,Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother,That he might not beteem the winds of heavenVisit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!Must I remember? Why, she would hang on himAs if increase of appetite had grownBy what it fed on: and yet, within a month, — Let me not think on’t, — Frailty, thy name is woman! — A little month; or ere those shoes were oldWith which she followed my poor father’s bodyLike Niobe, all tears; — why she, even she, — O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason,Would have mourn’d longer, — married with mine uncle,My father’s brother; but no more like my fatherThan I to Hercules: within a month;Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tearsHad left the flushing in her galled eyes,She married: — O, most wicked speed, to postWith such dexterity to incestuous sheets!It is not, nor it cannot come to good;But break my heart, — for I must hold my tongue! In this excerpt, Hamlet’s first soliloquy, Hamlet is mourning the death of his late father. Hamlet is so grieved by his father’s death that he, himself, wishes to die. Hamlet feels as if he is a defiled human being; (“O, that this too, too sullied flesh”) and he hopes that if he died he would become something pure, like dew, which washes away the dirt of the world. But Hamlet realizes that he cannot commit suicide because in the eyes of the Everlasting (God) it is a sin; killing himself would make him even more defiled and block his entrance into heaven.Saddened not only by his father’s death, but Gertrude’s over-hasty and ill judged marriage to Claudis (Hamlet Senior’s brother) Hamlet feels as if there is no reason to live. Hamlet feels that Gertrude acted too hastily (“O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer!”) and acted very foolishly. Claudius, in Hamlet’s eyes, is nothing in comparison to his late father. “So excellent a king, that was to this / Hyperion to a satyr” Hamlet is also angry with his mother for marrying Claudius only two months after his father’s death because Hamlet knew how much his father loved Gertrude. (“so loving to my mother / That he might not beteem the winds of heaven/ Visit her face too roughly.” In Hamlet’s eyes she adds insult to injury by marrying someone he thinks so lowly of (he calls Claudius a satyr), and he thinks of his mother as weak and foolish (“frailty thy name is woman!”) Hamlet also sees Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius as incestuous. ‘O, most wicked speed to post / With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! Hamlet feels that if marriages within a family aren’t controlled that unwanted and vile incidents may occur, like in an untended garden (Act 1 Scene 2)https://prezi.com/un0mmj3yoxmi/analysis-of-hamlets-first-monologue-o-that-this-too-too-solid-flesh-would-melt/
Now I am alone.O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!Is it not monstrous that this player here,But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,Could force his soul so to his own conceitThat from her working all his visage wann’d,Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s aspect,A broken voice, and his whole function suitingWith forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!For Hecuba!What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,That he should weep for her? What would he do,Had he the motive and the cue for passionThat I have? He would drown the stage with tearsAnd cleave the general ear with horrid speech,Make mad the guilty and appal the free,Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeedThe very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,And can say nothing; no, not for a king,Upon whose property and most dear lifeA damn’d defeat was made. Am I a coward?Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ the throat,As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?Ha!’Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot beBut I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gallTo make oppression bitter, or ere thisI should have fatted all the region kitesWith this slave’s offal: bloody, bawdy villain!Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!O, vengeance!Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,Must, like a *****, unpack my heart with words,And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,A scullion!Fie upon’t! foh! About, my brain! I have heardThat guilty creatures sitting at a playHave by the very cunning of the sceneBeen struck so to the soul that presentlyThey have proclaim’d their malefactions;For murder, though it have no tongue, will speakWith most miraculous organ. I’ll have these playersPlay something like the murder of my fatherBefore mine uncle: I’ll observe his looks;I’ll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,I know my course. The spirit that I have seenMay be the devil: and the devil hath powerTo assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhapsOut of my weakness and my melancholy,As he is very potent with such spirits,Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have groundsMore relative than this: the play ‘s the thingWherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. A group of actors arrive to a room in the castle to audition for a play Hamlet has set up; while Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern at Hamlets side. Hamlet speaks his soliloquy after watching the player’s performance. Hamlet is amazed at the player’s ability to develop emotions for “Hecuba”. Hamlet wonders how he can do it without experiencing the story. He then imagines what the player would do if the player “had the motive and [the cue] for passion that I [he] has”. (541-542) Hamlet believes that the player would bring the “stage with [to] tears” (542), horrify “the general ear” (543) or the ears of the audience with speech, threaten the “guilty” (544) ones, “confound the ignorant” (545) ones and stun every “eyes and ears”. (546) Hamlet assumes these actions from the player because these actually are the actions that Hamlet would employ in order to express his horror feelings. Hamlet here only imagines since he restrains himself from disclosing anything yet.Hamlet then feels that he is a “dull and muddy-mettled rascal” (547) who couldn’t do anything for his father to revenge. The word “muddy-mettled” means dull spirited, it points out that Hamlet is frustrated at himself. Hamlet thirsts for revenge to bravely kill his father’s murder, King Claudius. However all he can do is to “mope/ like John-a-dreams”. (548) He puts himself at the peak of frustration, since he has not seen anything accomplished yet. He starts to doubt his ability for revenge. He becomes fearful of dangers and death. And he starts calling himself “a rogue” (531), “a peasant slave” (530), and “an ass” (562), while he also questions himself if he’s a “coward” (551). Hamlet then reproaches King Claudius by calling him a “bloody, bawdy villain!” (560) He accounts King Claudius’ sins as “remorselessly” (561) murdered his father without letting him to repent; “treacherously” (561) stole his father’s crown; “lecherously” seduce his father’s queen and “kindlessly” (561) destroyed the futures of Hamlet and Denmark. Hamlet escalates his hatred toward this malicious King. He eagerly looks forward to the day of his revenge. Hamlet also reminds himself of his identity as the “son of a dear [father] murthered” (563) that he has to seek “my [his] revenge by heaven and hell”. (563-564) Hamlet becomes aware that he needs to get his “brains” (569) “About” (569) or to work. He switches his eager heart for revenge to the calmly scheming. He is planning to have the “players play something like the murther of my [his] father before my [his] uncle” that he can “observe his [his uncle’s] looks” to judge his guilt. Hamlet concludes to himself that “[he] know my [his course]” (578) of what to do if his uncle “do blench” (576) or flinch. However, Hamlet is indeed losing his faith. He doubts the validity of the ghost being his father. He depends on King Claudius’ reaction to the play to verify the words from the ghost. And he becomes a “coward” (551) who fears death, since he knows his death might come if overflow the king. Hamlet even blasphemes his father ghost by saying that it might be “a [dev’l]” who “hath power T’ assume a pleasing shape” (579-580), or lure him to sin, which would “abuse me [him] and damn me [him]”. (583) Hamlet becomes unsure of the story told by the ghost. His faith starts to dim. Nevertheless, he continues to execute his plan to detect King Claudius’ guilt as he says “I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (585).In conclusion, Shakespeare obviously shows the hardest situation and greatest agonies for Hamlet, but intentionally hides the dual character of Hamlet in the text. Shakespeare brilliantly creates this dual character that Hamlet is eager but fearful to revenge, and respectful to the ghost to but suspects its intention. Also, this dual character he created is fascinating but is ironic because through Hamlet he delivers the idea that having wants or relations in two extreme directions is what usually people in the society do.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more; and by a sleep to say we endThe heart-ache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;For in that sleep of death what dreams may comeWhen we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause: there’s the respectThat makes calamity of so long life;For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay,The insolence of office and the spurnsThat patient merit of the unworthy takes,When he himself might his quietus makeWith a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,To grunt and sweat under a weary life,But that the dread of something after death,The undiscover’d country from whose bournNo traveller returns, puzzles the willAnd makes us rather bear those ills we haveThan fly to others that we know not of?Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;And thus the native hue of resolutionIs sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,And enterprises of great pith and momentWith this regard their currents turn awry,And lose the name of action. When Hamlet utters the pained question, “To be, or not to be: that is the question: / Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles” (III.i.59-61) there is little doubt that he is thinking of death. Although he attempts to pose such a question in a rational and logical way, he is still left without an answer of whether the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” can be borne out since life after death is so uncertain.At this point in the plot of Hamlet, he wonders about the nature of his death and thinks for a moment that it may be like a deep sleep, which seems at first to be acceptable until he speculates on what will come in such a deep sleep. Just when his “sleep” answer begins to appeal him, he stops short and wonders in another of the important quotes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To sleep: perchance to dream:—ay there’s the rub; / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (III.i.68-69). The “dreams” that he fears are the pains that the afterlife might bring and since there is no way to be positive that there will be a relief from his earthly sufferings through death, he forced to question death yet again.After posing this complex question and wondering about the nature of the great sleep, Hamlet then goes on to list many sufferings men are prone to in the rough course of life, which makes it seem as though he is moving toward death yet again. By the end of this soliloquy, however, he finally realizes, “But that dread of something after death, / The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn / No traveler returns—puzzles the will / And makes us rather bear those ills we have” (III.i.81-84). Although at this last moment Hamlet realizes that many chose life over death because of this inability to know the afterlife, the speech remains a deep contemplation about the nature and reasons for death.https://madtoread.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/to-be-or-not-to-be-analysis/
How all occasions do inform against meAnd spur my dull revenge! What is a manIf his chief good and market of his timeBe but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.Sure he that made us with such large discourse,Looking before and after, gave us notThat capability and godlike reasonTo fust in us unused. Now, whether it beBestial oblivion, or some craven scrupleOf thinking too precisely on the eventA thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdomAnd ever three parts coward; I do not knowWhy yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do’Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and meansTo do it. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me:Witness this army, of such mass and charge,Led by a delicate and tender prince.Whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed,Makes mouths at the invisible event.Exposing what is mortal and unsureTo all that fortune, death, and danger dare,Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be greatIs not to stir without great argument,But greatly to find quarrel in a strawWhen honour’s at the stake. How stand I, then,That have a father killed, a mother stained,Excitements of my reason and my blood,And let all sleep? While, to my shame, I seeThe imminent death of twenty thousand menThat, for a fantasy and trick of fame,Go to their graves like beds — fight for a plotWhereon the numbers cannot try the cause,Which is not tomb enough and continentTo hide the slain? O, from this time forthMy thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! The soliloquy happens near the end of the play, after Hamlet has journeyed away from home. Here he see’s Fortinbras of Norway leading a massive army to fight for a small and meaningless plot of land, worth nothing to either side. The soldiers fight not for wealth, but for honor. This causes Hamlet, a philosopher and scholar, to reflect on his own condition the direction his own path must take. Hamlet’s father has been slain by his uncle, who then took the throne and married Hamlet’s mother, yet he has done nothing to avenge the honor of his father or redeem the honor of his mother.The information given to Hamlet by the captain stimulates his thoughts of revenge and makes him scold himself for his inaction. He realizes that thousands of soldiers are ready to die for a piece of worthless land, but he, Hamlet, who is equipped with an excellent motive to take revenge for his father’s death, is still unable to do anything about it.This soliloquy sheds light on the fact that he has a natural deficiency that always thwarts his purpose. His tendency to generalize and universalize, to think instead of act, one that can be seen in his other soliloquies, is, once more, evident here also.He tells himself that every person has a purpose and they should fulfill it. A man is no better than a beast if he is satisfied only with sleeping and feeding himself. God gave reason to human beings so that they may make use of it. He says that a man is justified in taking action if his sense of honor demands that he should, that he could “find quarrel in a star” i.e. accept the challenge, even if the provocation is far and distant.Hamlet remembers his powerful motive with “a father killed, a mother stained.” These are the images that torture him.This is a turning point for Hamlet where he stops mulling over the past, licking his wounds, and fantasizing about revenge and instead, starts acting on his thoughts.
How does Laertes die? Hamlet stabs him with a poisoned sword
Who aids in Hamlet’s escape from the ship? Pirates
What poison does Claudius pour into the ear of Hamlet’s father, causing his death? Hebenon
Where is the university at which Horatio and Hamlet studied? Wittenberg
Whose story does Hamlet ask the players to tell upon their arrival to Elsinore? Priam and Hecuba’s
Why, according to Polonius, has Hamlet gone mad? He is in love with Ophelia.
How many characters die during the course of the play? Eight
Who first sees the ghost of Hamlet’s father? Marcellus and Bernardo
The ghost is first spotted outisde the castle
Where does Hamlet go to university? Germany
What religion was Denmark at time of writing? Protestant
Osric The foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes.
Voltimand and Cornelius Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.
Marcellus and Bernardo The officers who first see the ghost walking the ramparts of Elsinore and who summon Horatio to witness it. Marcellus is present when Hamlet first encounters the ghost.
Francisco A soldier and guardsman at Elsinore
Setting The story of Hamlet is set in the late middle ages (14th and 15th centuries, or 1300 to 1499) in and around (mostly) the royal palace in Elsinore, a city in Denmark.

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