Hamlet test study guide

Hamlet The Prince of Denmark, the title character, and the protagonist. About thirty years old at the start of the play, Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and the nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet is melancholy, bitter, and cynical, full of hatred for his uncle’s scheming and disgust for his mother’s sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man who has studied at the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant, but at other times prone to rash and impulsive acts.
King Claudius The King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, and the play’s antagonist. The villain of the play, he is a calculating, ambitious politician, driven by his sexual appetites and his lust for power, but he occasionally shows signs of guilt and human feeling—his love for Gertrude, for instance, seems sincere.
Queen Gertrude The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. She loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who seeks affection and status more urgently than moral rectitude or truth.
Polonius The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, conniving old man. He is the father of Laertes and Ophelia.
Horatio Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. He is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. After Hamlet’s death, he remains alive to tell Hamlet’s story.
Ophelia Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. She is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet. Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river amid the flower garlands she had gathered.
Laertes Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother, a young man who spends much of the play in France. Passionate and quick to action, he is clearly a foil for the reflective Hamlet.
Fortinbras The young Prince of Norway, whose father the king (same name as him) was killed by Hamlet’s father (also named Hamlet). Now he wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honor, making him another foil for Prince Hamlet.
The Ghost The specter of Hamlet’s recently deceased father. He, who claims to have been murdered by Claudius, calls upon Hamlet to avenge him. However, it is not entirely certain whether the ghost is what it appears to be, or whether it is something else. Hamlet speculates that the ghost might be a devil sent to deceive him and tempt him into murder, and the question of what the ghost is or where it comes from is never definitively resolved.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior.
Voltemond and Cornelius Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.
Marcellus One of 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.
Reynaldo Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes.
Soliloquy an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play.
Aside a remark or passage by a character in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but unheard by the other characters in the play.
“Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt love” Polonius- king and queen-reading hamlets letter saying that u need to question everything but never doubt love
This above all: To thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not be false to any man. Polonius (speaking to Laertes);Meaning: be true to yourself, don’t lie, be yourself around othersImportance: Laertes is leaving for Paris
“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” HamletHe compares Denmark to like a prisonHamlet feels trapped and wants to leave
“To die, to sleep to sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come” Hamlets silolquy… says to himself”Sleep” here represents death, and “perchance” means perhaps. The literal meaning of this quote is that death is a better choice to end the sufferings of one’s life. It implies that unconsciousness or dreamless sleep, after death, would be ideal to be rid of troubles and sufferings in life. Since dreams emphasize tenuousness and uncertainty, and convey a sense of ignorance about the future, Prince Hamlet longs for dreamless sleep, as it would be much better to free him from his worries upon his death.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” Hamlet to HoratioHamlet is telling Horatio that earthly education and philosophy can’t explain everything.
Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t Speaker: PoloniusContext: Act 2 Scene 2; Polonius and Hamlet are carrying on a pointless conversation and Hamlet is mocking Polonius and he thinks Hamlet is even more crazy.Significance: Hamlet is responding to Polonius in a mocking manner and he finds it humorous, but Polonius thinks that he is just even more crazy so he says that there is a method to Hamlet’s madness. But Hamlet is really just being funny. Shakespeare is showing Hamlet’s wit and disrespect towards adultsApplication: Some people go about things very differently but all people have their own method of getting by that works for the
“…brevity is the soul of wit” [Polonius, 2.2.97] Polonius says this proverbial and ironic line in presenting his findings of Hamlet’s madness to the King and Queen. The irony lies in Polonius’ character who thinks himself a man of great cunning and wit, as well as in his words preceeding this. He gives a long winded introduction, full of superfluous words and contradictory rhetoric, but then says this perfectly brilliant statement, the contrast of which is very humorous.
“Listen to many, speak to a few.” PoloniusYou can hear things, but be careful who you talk to
one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!” Hamlet soliloquy;(Repetition)Hamlet plans to meet the villain, Claudius, at his table and take revenge upon him.
“conscience doth make cowards of us all!” Hamlethe can’t decide is he is going to kill Claudius or not; he wants to but he has a conscious and knows murder is wrong so that makes him a coward
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below / words without thoughts never go to heaven go.” Speaker: ClaudiusMeaning: “Claudius prays however knows he isn’t sorry – this is guilt.”
“This above all: To thine own self be true” Polonius (speaking to Laertes);Meaning: be true to yourself, don’t lie, be yourself around othersImportance: Laertes is leaving for Paris
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” HoratioSaying goodbye to his best friend
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 troublesAnd 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 Hamlets silolquy
“When sorrows come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions” King (talking about how one bad thing won’t just happen, but everything else will go bad)
Sweets to the sweet Queen GertrudeDead OpheliaSweet flowers to the sweet maiden I wish you could have been my son Hamlet’s wife
God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another. Hamlet to Ophelia about the fact that women try to hide their trueselves.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Speaker: GertrudeSpoken to: HamletSituation: the queen is watching the play that Hamlet had the actors put on. Hamlet asks his mom what she thinks of the play because he knows that the play should trigger something is her moral conscience. In the play the player queen refuses to remarry after her husband has died. Hamlet thinks Gertrude should be more like thisMeaning: The queens reply means that she believes the player queen was too dramatic about never remarrying and that she protested too much against it. The queen does not see the great harm in remarrying. Language:
Madness in great ones shall not unwatched go CLAUDIUS: Announcing that Hamlet should be watched
What a piece of work is a man – how noble in reason; how infinite in faculties, 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? Hamlet: this shows how Hamlet’s velocity of a human being is a piece of work he said it doesn’t matter to me how beautiful things are he says that they’re meaningless to him we have an ability of reason to make choices over animals. All these great things that make us who we are Hamlet hates humankind. Hamlet is mad at Ophelia Gertrude and Claudius he doesn’t like women.
It must be cruel, only to be kind; / thus bad begins and worse remains behind. Hamlet to Queenhe’s shifting his attention back to his mother
“I loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum -Hamlet to Laertes-Hamlet loved Ophelia more than her brother ever could-Act V, Scene 1
“If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.” Polonius to Laertes
“So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be split.” Queen Guilt makes you so full of stupid suspicions that you give yourself away because you’re trying so hard not to.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Speaker: MarcellusSpoken to: Horatio Situation: Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus see the ghost. The ghosts beckons Hamlet away and wants to speak to him alone. Marcellus and Horatio deplore Hamlet not to go alone with the ghost because it might be an evil spirit. Hamlet goes anyway leaving Marcellus and Horatio shaken up.Meaning: Something is not right in Denmark. Something is about to go terribly wrong.
“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man pick’d out of ten thousand.” Hamlet talking to Polonious. Hamlet is saying that there aren’t very many honest people in this world, so when you are honest, you are really something special.
” I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is Southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Said by Hamlet to Rosencrantz and Guildensternhe’s pretending to be mad, but he’s also trying to hint to them that he’s just pretending it2.2
“Frailty, Thy Name is Woman!” Hamlet is talking about how his mother married Claudius so quickly. The quotation shows that Hamlet is upset over his mother’s expedient and incestuous marriage to Claudius. The marriage also represents an ominous omen to Denmark due to the incestuousness of the situation.

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