protagonist the principal character of a literary work/production who must resolve a problem
tragedy A play in which the protagonist brings about his own downfall due to a tragic flaw.
tragic hero the protagonist in the tragedy that has a tragic flaw that leads to his/her downfall
pun humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings of another word similar in sound. play-on-words.
exeunt used as a stage direction for everyone to leave the stage.
dialogue clues dialogue that tells you about the time, place, setting, and background.
flourish trumpet fanfare, signals the entrance of royalty
soliloquy actor alone on stage revealing his innermost thoughts and feelings
literary allusion a reference to biblical, historical, mythological, or contemporary literature.
genre a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.
Where does the last scene of Act I take place? outside of the castle by the ramparts at night
What are Prince Hamlet’s mother and uncle worried about? Hamlet’s depressed psychological state.
Who do Marcellus and Bernardo think they see while on their watch? ghost of King Hamlet
What advice does Laertes give Ophelia? not be in a relationship with Hamlet
What advice does Polonius give to Laertes? Do not start fights, but if someone starts a fight with you, do not back down.
To whom does Hamlet speak at the end of Act I? his father (the ghost)
Who is Fortinbras? The son of the deceased king of Norway
Who is Horatio? Hamlet’s colleague (went to school with him), one of his servants as well as his best friend.
What country does the play take place in? Denmark
Who is Claudius? King Hamlet’s brother who is now the king of Denmark
Why is Hamlet upset with his mother? She remarried a little too quickly after his father’s death (married Claudius).
What country is Laertes going to on his journey? France
What information does Hamlet’s father reveal to him? that Claudius killed him by pouring poison in his ear.
What does Hamlet plan to do upon hearing this information? take revenge on Claudius
What is the state of affairs between Denmark and Norway? currently strained because Fortinbras wants to reclaim land that way originally his back from Denmark when King Hamlet captured them.
What are Polonius’ instructions to Reynaldo? to go to France and spy on Laertes and see how he is doing.
What does Ophelia report about her meeting with Hamlet? She reports that he grabbed her and was acting crazy and not speaking.
Why had Claudius invited Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Elsinore? He wants to use them to find out why Hamlet is acting depressed and insane.
How does Hamlet treat Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? He treats them well, but he asks if they were sent by Gertrude and Claudius. In other words, he acts skeptical.
What does Gertrude think is the cause of Hamlet’s madness? his father’s death and her marriage to Claudius
What does Polonius think is the cause of Hamlet’s madness? his love for Ophelia
Hamlet asks the players to act “The Murder of Gonzago.” How is he going to change it? What is his purpose for doing this? He is going to insert a scene mimicking how his father was murdered. He wants to do this because he wants to make Claudius feel guilty and to prove him guilty for the murder of his father.
What is the name of Ophelia’s father? Polonius
What is the name of Hamlet’s mother? Gertrude
What advice does Hamlet give his players? Hamlet tells them not to exaggerate, don’t use too many hand gestures, keep emotion moderate and smooth.
What instructions does Hamlet give Horatio which he should carry out during the play within a play? He asks him to watch Claudius during the play so they can compare impressions of him afterword. They are watching him to see if he shows guilt.
Which two people get most of Hamlet’s attention during the play within a play? Ophelia and Gertrude.
Who is Gonzago? the Duke of Vienna in “The Murder of Gonzago”
What is Claudius’ reaction to the play? Claudius jumps out of his seat and cries for light. The king runs out of the room followed by the audience.
Why does Gertrude send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Hamlet? Gertrude told them that she wants to speak with Hamlet.
Why does Hamlet forego the chance to kill Claudius? At that time, Claudius was repenting for his sins. Hamlet wants to kill him when he is sinning.
How does Hamlet act toward his mother in his bedroom? He acts violently. He says that she offended King Hamlet by marrying Claudius. He says that he will make her aware of her sins. He also says that he is going to wring her heart.
Who does Hamlet kill at the end of Act III? Polonius
Specifically, where does the above murder take place? Gertrude’s chamber, near the tapestry that Polonius was hiding behind.
What purpose is served by the speeches of the gravediggers to eachother? To Hamlet? Serve as comedic relief and it furthers the theme of death.
How does Ophelia die? She drowned by falling off a tree.
Why do the clowns argue about whether or not Ophelia should be buried in consecrated ground? because it looked as though Ophelia killed herself and according to Christian faith, those who commit suicide are not buried.
Who is Yorick? King Hamlet’s deceased jester.
With whom does Hamlet fight inside the grave? Why? Laertes. They are fighting over how much they love Ophelia.
How does Hamlet foil Claudius’ plan to have him executed in England? How does Hamlet feel about this trickery? He intercepted Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on their way to England and replaced the letter with a letter to have the messengers executed, i.e. them He thinks it is appropriate because they betrayed him and were loyal to Claudius.
What message does Osric give Hamlet? that Claudius wants Laertes and Hamlet to fence against each other. Claudius bets that Hamlet will win.
Is Hamlet satisfied at his death? What do others think of him? Yes; Hamlet got revenge on Claudius for killing his father. Others think he is a hero, especially Fortinbras and Horatio
What does Hamlet tell Horatio not to do? Kill himself
What does Fortinbras ask to do with Hamlet’s body? have it be carried away like a soldier and also have it be carried around to show people.
Who becomes the next King of Denmark? Fortinbras
How many people die in Act V? 6
What is Claudius’ reaction to Gertrude’s description of Polonius’ death? He thinks that he is not safe, Hamlet is mad, Hamlet meant to kill him.
What does Claudius decide to do about Hamlet? Send him to England to be executed.
What are the two causes of Ophelia’s madness? Hamlet’s madness because he no longer is affectionate towards her and Polonius’ death because her own father died.
How does Hamlet’s madness compare/contrast to Ophelia’s madness? Hamlet and Ophelia are both angered over their father’s death, but Hamlet is also angered over his mother’s marriage.
At the beginning of Act IV, what does Claudius ask Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do? go to Hamlet and tell him to inform them of the location of Polonius’ body.
What s missing in Act IV that Claudius wants to find? Polonius’ body
What plan do Laertes and Claudius devise? to kill Hamlet. Laertes will face Hamlet in a fencing tournament. Laertes will have a sharp, poisoned blade with which to kill him. If that doesn’t work, he will drink poisoned wine.
Who is Fortinbras? the Prince of Norway who wants permission from the Danes to pass through their land to attack the Poles.
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.
Claudius The King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, and the play’s antagonist. The villain of the play, Claudius 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.
Gertrude The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude 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. The father of Laertes and Ophelia.
Horatio Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. After Hamlet’s death, Horatio remains alive to tell Hamlet’s story.
Ophelia Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. Ophelia 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 a foil for the reflective Hamlet.
Fortinbras The young Prince of Norway, whose father the king (also named Fortinbras) was killed by Hamlet’s father (also named Hamlet). Now Fortinbras 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. The ghost, 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.
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.
Reynaldo Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes.
“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.” Hamlet’s soliloquy
Give thy thoughts no tongue,Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;But do not dull thy palm with entertainmentOf each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. BewareOf entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy:For the apparel oft proclaims the man;And they in France of the best rank and stationAre most select and generous chief in that.Neither a borrower nor a lender be:For loan oft loses both itself and friend;And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.This above all,—to thine own self be true;And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man. Polonius to Laertes
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Marcellus to Horatio
I have of late,—but wherefore I know not,—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is 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 to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
To be, or not to be: that is the question:Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortuneOr 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 heartache, 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 come,When 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 despis’d 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 these 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 will,And 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 moment,With this regard, their currents turn awry,And lose the name of action. Hamlet’s soliloquy