HAMLET STUDY GUIDE

1. How does the opening line of the play preface, subtextually, what the play is about?How does the theme of the play show through the first line, “who’s there”? Subtextually, the beginning of the play could somehow represent how the character don’t really know who is around them, meaning there are characters who act differently than who they actually are (appearance vs reality). This ties into the theme of betrayal.
2. By “a little more than kin,” Hamlet means: It means that Claudius is both his uncle and stepfather, but a bad person.Hamlet eludes that Claudius is not a nice person, not a direct blood relative, and involved in less-than proper or natural relationships.
3. What sort of atmosphere does the play’s opening establish?****************************************************************** The atmosphere is kind of suspenseful because the characters are confused about who is near them and it is during a very cold night. It builds up into the moment when the ghost appears.
4. Briefly describe Hamlet’s first soliloquy (“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt”) He is basically revealing how he feels after his father’s death and his uncle+mother’s marriage. He says that life is pointless to him and he wishes he could kill himself. He also says that his father was the greatest; much more than his uncle.
5. Describe the nature of the advice Polonius gives Laertes: Polonius’s advice to Laertes kind of sounds hypocritical because he says things like, “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”. There are many restrictions and rules he gives Laertes and they include testing trustworthiness. He ends by saying that he should stay true to himself, even though he just told him what he should do about even the minor things
6. What is an early indicator of the nature of the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio? When Hamlet wants to follow the ghost, Horatio tries to stop him because he did not want him to get hurt. When Hamlet returns, he trusts that he could reveal the nature of his father’s death to Horatio and that he could keep his secret.
7. The ghost indicates to Hamlet that his murder came about in what manner? He reveals that he was killed in his sleep by being poisoned from the ear. He was betrayed by someone close to him, his brother.
8. When Hamlet says he may, “put an antic disposition on,” he means he might do what, exactly? He means that he might find it appropriate to act a little crazy in the future.
1. Polonius interprets Hamlet’s encounter with Ophelia in what way? Polonius interprets these words and actions as his deep love for Ophelia. Because Polonius has prohibited his daughter from seeing or speaking with Hamlet, he assumes she has followed his direction and spurned the young man.
2. Claudius and Gertrude engage Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do what? They want them to try to make Hamlet have some fun and figure out what is bothering him so that they can fix it.
3. In their first meeting with Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unable to ascertain what? What is bothering Hamlet and changing his attitude towards life.
4. Hamlet’s attitude toward Polonius is characterized by: The way he talks to him, he acts kind of disrespectful and tries to somewhat make fun of him/bother him. He also talks about Ophelia, which bothers Polonius.
5. The Player’s delivery of the Pyramus/Hecuba scene is significant because: Hamlet asks the Player to deliver the monologue of Hecuba’s response to her husband’s death. Hecuba’s response was a proper grief over the death of a loved one whereas Gertrude’s is not. This shows the audience the contrast in mourning over two widowed women and to highlight the betrayal Gertrude inflicted on her late husband.
6. At the end of his soliloquy, Hamlet says, “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” He is planning to: Hamlet plans to use the play, which is a fictional representation of his life, to reveal the guilt of Claudius. He hopes that when Claudius sees the murder being acted out, this will cause his to be overcome with grief and his reaction will confirm what the ghost told Hamlet.
1. Hamlet’s famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy speculates what? He begins by contemplating life, deciding whether he should live or kill himself. He eventually decides not to kill himself because of the uncertainty of the afterlife.
2. Hamlet says that people do not take their own lives because: People are cowards and fear death too much.
3. Hamlet tells Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery!” Why? In a sense, Hamlet is speaking based off of his pent up anger towards his mother. He tells her to go to a nunnery because there she will not be able to be deceitful or under the influence of any man.
4. After eavesdropping on the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia Claudius thinks _______________ but Polonius thinks ___________________________. Claudius thinks Hamlet should be sent away since he is out of control (really because he is scared that Hamlet knows about the murder) but Polonius thinks Gertrude should have a chance to talk to Hamlet and figure out what is really going on
5. During the play-within-the-play, the actors portray:./……. The play is basically a reenactment of the murder of the king. The biggest difference is that the queen in the play mourns the death of her husband, yet Gertrude only mourns for a brief while and then goes on to marry her dead husband’s brother.
6. What is confounding about Hamlet’s treatment of Ophelia during the play? It is surprising that Hamlet is making numerous sexual, rude and crude comments to Ophelia throughout the duration of the play with everyone standing around them. He might have just been trying to sell his “crazy” act, but it truly was crazy the way he was speaking to her.
7. When Gertrude says,” the lady doth protest too much,” it is probably because: She knows that she did not protest enough, so she is responding to the actor queen by saying she did too much to make it seem like hers was not too little.
8. When Claudius leaves the play, he believes: Hamlet knows about the murder
9. Hamlet and Horatio confer excitedly, agreeing that: Claudius’ guilt caused him to respond and freak out about the play meaning that the ghost was telling the truth and that he did murder Hamlet’s father.
10. Why does Hamlet force Guildenstern to try to play the recorder? He is making the point to his friend that he can’t play a simple instrument but he can try to deceive his friend?
11. Hamlet’s treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is ______________________ because he feels they are____________________. harsh ; spying on him due to Claudius’ request.
12. What reason does Hamlet give for not killing Claudius while he is alone at prayer? Since Claudius was praying, (or so Hamlet believed), this would mean he could be forgiven of all his sins and go to heaven. But Hamlet does not believe he deserves to go to heaven, but rather he should suffer, much like his father is, since he did not get the chance to confess before he was murdered.
1. When Hamlet tells Claudius, “In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him (Polonius) not there, seek him i’ the other place yourself,” what point is he making? Hamlet is taunting Claudius by saying that Polonius will most likely be in hell and he will have to go there to find him
2. Explain Hamlet’s point about worms, fish, Kings, and beggars. Hamlet is making the point that it doesn’t matter who you were or what you had while you were alive, everyone ends up in the same place – the ground – being picked at by worms.
3. Hamlet escapes from the ship bearing him to England by what unexpected method? He jumped onto a pirate ship and was captured but he then convinced them to take him back to Denmark.
4. Claudius tells Laertes he did not punish Hamlet because his mother loves him so much and also because: He is extremely well liked among the people – like a celebrity.
5. Claudius’s proposal of a fencing match is dishonorable because: He is using Laertes’ anger towards Hamlet solve his problems – Laertes was particularly good at sword fighting so he would most likely win; Laertes was angry with Hamlet and had motivation to win; Claudius would not get his hands dirty and the fight would seem justifiable.
6. Ophelia’s distribution of flowers to various other characters could be interpreted as: Evidence of her madness; makes it clear that she feels that Hamlet used her and threw her away, which is logically how she might feel after the way he spoke to her in the “Get thee to a nunnery” scene.
7. Claudius adds to the dishonorable nature of the proposed fencing match by suggesting that: Laertes will use a sword with a tip that is lathered in poison to guarantee that any strike will kill him. But if there is any reason Laertes should not be successful, Claudius will also have a drink that is poisoned for Hamlet to drink if he is successful.
8. Gertrude reports that Ophelia: Ophelia has drowned/committed suicide
9. The imagery regarding Ophelia’s final appearance in the play is ambiguous. How? The way that the scene is described suggests that Ophelia most likely committed suicide and it was not an accidental death.
1. Characterize the tone of the interaction between the gravediggers at the start of act V. The tone is humorous. The purpose of this scene is to provide some comical relief.
2. The gravediggers’ conversation confirms that most people regarded Ophelia’s death as: Taboo. This is because people do not believe that she should receive a “Christian burial,” as she killed herself willingly.
3. In the graveyard, Hamlet speaks to the skull of ___________________________. Why is __________ relevant to Hamlet? the King’s jester, Yorick ; Yorick knew Hamlet as a child. He was a entertainer (jester)
4. What three points does Hamlet make in his skull/graveyard/alas soliloquy? How do they connect to his previous ruminations in Act 5?
5. Laertes is angry at the priest because: Because his sister is dead and the priest gives her a simple burial, the priest believes that she doesn’t “deserve” a proper burial since she killed herself.
6. Laertes and Hamlet engage in a furied, bereaved “grief-off” in the graveyard. Briefly describe this scene. Laertes is at Ophelia’s burial, mourning her death. Hamlet then appears and claims that he loved her more than any amount of brothers ever could. They are basically fighting over who loved her more and who is hurting more.
7. Make certain you understand the machinations and ramifications of the final scene (who dies, how do they die, what is the final result of the plot of the play, etc.) Wasted: Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, LaertesHow?: Hamlet was struck by Laertes’ poisoned sword. Claudius was stabbed by Hamlet, then forced to drink the poisoned wine. Gertrude drank the poisoned wine that was intended for Hamlet. Laertes was struck with the poisoned sword that was used on Hamlet. Final result: Everyone, but Horatio, dies and Fortinbras becomes King. Fortinbras comes in the palace after everyone, except Horatio, dies. And he sees Hamlet and tells his men that hamlet is to be given a soldier’s burial
“My hour is almost come, when I to sulphurous and tormenting flames must render up myself.” Who said it: The Ghost- Hamlet’s fatherTo Whom: HamletContext: After Hamlet is left alone with the Ghost, the Ghost explains to him how it is in the afterlife, where in the morning he will have to go to a land filled with flames- describes the christian version of hell in a sense- and in the night he just roams around, it will be like this until he serves his time for his sins. Came to tell Hamlet about how he was killed by Claudius
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”****************************************************************** Who said it: Polonius To whom: LaertesContext: Right before Laertes leaves to France his father gives him life lessons. To not borrow money and to not lend money out, since it will end in you losing your friend and money- not trustworthy of people- also borrowing money doesn’t reflect what a real man would do.
“To die, to sleep;To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the Rub;”****************************************************************** Who said it: HamletTo whom: SoliloquyContext: In the famous to be not to be soliloquy, where Hamlet contemplates killing himself and asking to himself is living really worth it. Compares death to sleep, you don’t have to worry about your troubles when you are sleeping.
“The play’s the thingWherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Who said it: HamletTo whom: SoliloquyContext:Hamlet is skeptical whether or not the Ghost was a devil or his actual father, therefore he has set up a play reenacting his father’s death, the way the Ghost explained. Thus when the play is going on he can observe Claudius’ reaction to the play to see if he had poisoned his father or not.
“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will comeā€”the readiness is all” Who said it: HamletTo whom: Horatio Context: Hamlet is about to begin the fencing match between him and Laertes. Hamlet says that if he doesn’t die now, he will die eventually. The first line also references the Bible, the line meaning that no one dies without God’s knowledge.
“The lady doth protest too much,Methinks”****************************************************************** Who said it: GertrudeTo whom: HamletContext: This quotation was Gertrude’s response to the play that Hamlet had showcased for the king and queen to watch. The play was all part of his plan to discover Claudius’s involvement in the late King’s death.
“And so I have a noble father lost, A sister driven into desperate terms,Whose worth, if praises may go back again,Stood challenger on mount of all the agesFor her perfections. But my revenge will come.”****************************************************************** Who said it: LaertesTo whom: Claudius Context: Laertes was speaking to the King about Hamlet, and why he wasn’t tried for murder. Then Laertes says that he has lost his father and his sister has gone crazy, then vows for his revenge against Hamlet
“To take him in the purging of his soul when he is fit and season’d for his passage?” Who said it: HamletTo whom: The audience Context: Hamlet is about to kill Claudius, but instead listens to the his confession prayer. After listening to the confession, Hamlet decides that he will not kill Claudius because he would go to heaven as a result of confessing his sins. (Which is the opposite of what Hamlets wants.)
“A little more than kin and less than kind.”****************************************************************** Who said it: Hamlet To whom: The audience Context: The first words spoken by Hamlet in the play, while walking with Claudius. The quote overall means that Hamlet his uncle now closer family-wise, because Claudius is now his father, but they do not have a kind relationship with each other.
“Frailty, thy name is woman!”****************************************************************** Who said it: HamletTo whom: The audienceContext: Hamlet is grieving for his father and doesn’t agree with his mother’s decision to married his uncle (father’s brother) as quickly as she did. He also calls his mother and all women weak and frail.
“For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being agod kissing carrion, Have you a daughter?” Who said it: HamletTo whom: Polonius Context: Hamlet is reading a book, pretending to be crazy (his plan to get revenge on Claudius) while talking to Polonius. Hamlet is just talking nonsense in these lines, and then asks if Polonius has a daughter(Ophelia).
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t”****************************************************************** Who said it: PoloniusTo whom: AsideContext: Polonius thinks that Hamlet has gone mad. However he isn’t completely convinced. He is still suspicious of Hamlet’s “madness” and whether it is an act or not.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” Who said it: OpheliaTo whom: Laertes, Claudius, and the QueenContext: Ophelia has gone mad since the death of her father. She is singing and passing out flowers to Laertes, King Claudius, and the Queen. She then hangs rosemary to her brother saying to remember her, foreshadowing her death.
“O ______, speak no more.Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul,And there I see such black and grained spotsAs will not leave their tinct.”****************************************************************** Who said it: Queen Gertrude To whom: HamletContext: The Queen (Hamlet’s mother) is telling Hamlet to stop guilting her for marrying her husband’s brother as quickly as she did. She also says that she realizes that what she did was wrong, and she cannot undo her wrongs
“Get thee to a nunnery. Go.”****************************************************************** Who said it: HamletTo whom: OpheliaContext: Ophelia is talking to Hamlet, so her father and the King can spy on him to see if he is truly insane. Hamlet is angered by something Ophelia says, and breaks up with her. Then insults her because she is not “pure” or “honest” and says she should become a nun.
“The imminent death of twenty thousand men,That, 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 forth,My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” Who said it: HamletTo whom: Soliloquy Context: Hamlet is angry that the soldiers are more passionate about winning a plot of land than he has been about avenging his father. He decides that he will begin to carry out his plan to kill Claudius. Hamlet also seems to admire Fortinbras’s confidence and ambition.
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” Who said it: ClaudiusTo whom: HimselfContext: Earlier, he King tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to accompany Hamlet to England and then goes to pray. While praying, he is unaware of Hamlet’s presence and reveals that his prayer consists of words, but no true feelings of remorse.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Who said it: MarcellusTo whom: HoratioContext: Marcellus thinks that Denmark is corrupt because of the new King. He knows something is going on with the death of the late king (Hamlet’s father).
“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.” Who said it: PoloniusTo whom: LaertesContext: Laertes is leaving for France, but before he leaves, his father gives him advice. His father says to listen more than speak, and not be quick to judge. However this is ironic because Polonius does just that. Ultimately he cannot follow his own advice.
“So think thou wilt no second husband wed, But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.” Who said it: Player Queen (Actor)To whom: The audience of the playContext: Hamlet’s play is going and his plan to find out if his uncle killed his father is almost over. The actor playing the queen says those lines, which Hamlet put into the play to guilt his mother. The lines mean that Queen did not mourn her husband long enough before marrying again.
…”Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” Who said it: HamletTo whom: HimselfContext: Hamlet is still grieving his father’s death. He compares himself to a uncared for garden, full of weeds and depressed, rather than full of flowers and happy.
“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.” Who said it: First AmbassadorTo whom: HoratioContext: Hamlet along with the Queen, Claudius, and Laertes are dead. A short amount of time after their deaths, Fortinbras takes over the castle to find Horatio and the bodies. When Horatio asks about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he learns of their death from an (English?) ambassador.
“Let it work, for ’tis the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard.” Who said it: HamletTo whom: The QueenContext: He is saying that it is fun to trick people who think they are smart (engineers) with their own creation(bomb). Hamlet is referring to Claudius by saying that he isn’t as cunning as himself and that his whole plan will blow up in his face.
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” Who said it: HamletTo whom: Rosencrantz and GuildensternContext: Hamlet is saying that humans may appear to think and act “nobly” but they are just “dust”, unimportant. Hamlet is expressing to his friends the difference between the best that men aspire to be, and how they actually behave.
“Alas, how is’t with you, That you do bend your eye on vacancy” Who said it: Queen To whom: HamletContext: Hamlet is talking to the ghost of his father in front of his mother, who cannot see the ghost. He asks if she can see him, but she cannot. In the lines quotes, she asks Hamlet id he is alright because he is staring at nothing.
“I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,And recks not his own rede.” Who said it: OpheliaTo whom: LaertesContext: Laertes is trying to give his sister some advice relating to Hamlet and her. However she replies that he should follow his own advice, taking the more difficult path leading to heaven, rather than the easy path of sin.
“So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to’t.” Who said it: HoratioTo whom: HamletContext: Hamlet sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths. Horatio’s next comment indicates that he is horrified. He says, “So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to’t,” meaning that they go to their deaths. (They were killed by pirates that attacked their ship).
“Truly to speak, and with no addition,We go to gain a little patch of groundThat hath in it no profit but the name.” Who said it: CaptainTo Whom: HamletContext: Hamlet notices an amy marching and asks a captain what country they belong to. We learn that the soldiers are from Norway, commanded by Fortinbras, fighting Poland. The quote says that the only reward from conquering Poland is the title. There isn’t much land.
“Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,When we would bring him on to some confessionOf his true state.” Who said it: GuildensternTo Whom: The QueenContext: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are reporting back to the Queen. They are surveilling Hamlet to find out what is wrong with him.
“And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fallOn Mars’s armour forged for proof eterneWith less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding swordNow falls on Priam.” Who said it: First PlayerTo Whom: Hamlet, Polonius, and other playersContext: This line is said when all of the players are auditioning for the play. The quote is a reference to Roman Mythology, Mars being the Roman god of War and a cyclops being a mythological monster. In the mythology, the Cyclopes helped the Titan Cronus overthrow his father, Uranus. This foreshadows that the Players are going to help Hamlet avenge his father by killing Claudius.
“We will ourselves provide: Most holy and religious fear it isTo keep those many many bodies safeThat live and feed upon your majesty.” Who said it: Guildenstern To whom: ClaudiusContext: Claudius tells Guildenstern and Rosencrantz about his plan to send Hamlet to England for the safety of the others. Guildenstern and Rosencrantz have this allegiance to Claudius and willingly agrees to take Hamlet to England
“I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,” Who said it: HoratioTo whom: HamletContext: While Hamlet is dying with Horatio watching, Horatio is willing to give up his life and die along with his friend. It shows his bravery and loyalty by offering his life.
“Go, bid the soldiers shoot.” Who said it: FortinbrasTo whom: HoratioContext: After Hamlet, Laertes, King, and Queen dies, Fortinbras shows up and Horatio tells him that Hamlet and the others have died. He tells Horatio to tell the soldiers to shoot in honor of Hamlet.

You Might Also Like