Hamlet: Act 1 and 2

characterization of Hamlet – depressed- would kill himself if God wasn’t against it- discontent with life- the whole country depends on him and that’s why he won’t marry Ophelia
characterization of Claudius – likes to drink- Hamlet’s uncle and stepfather- Gertrude’s new husband- lazy- inconsiderate toward Hamlet’s mourning- poisoned the king, by pouring poison into his ear while he slept- sent messengers to Norway
characterization of Polonius – right hand man of old king Hamlet- sneaky- dramatic (tells the king to cut off his head)- distrustful (sending a man to spy on Laertes)- unwise judge of character (always sends other people to figure out information)- Ophelia and Laertes’ father- tells Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet- gives Laertes life advice before he goes back to France- well liked by the people- important to Claudius’ success on the throne- gives good advice
Why does Polonius send Reynaldo to France? What does he ask Reynaldo to find out, and how does he instruct him to do this? Is this wise? Polonius’s reason for sending Reynaldo to Paris is to take money and notes to Laertes. His real reason is that he wants Reynaldo to spy on Laertes and find out if he is drinking, fencing, swearing, or going to brothels. If Laertes is doing something wrong then Polonius wants to know.
What does Polonius think is the reason for Hamlet’s erratic behavior? What plan does he devise to test this theory? Polonius thinks the reason Hamlet is acting erratic is because he is in love with Ophelia. Polonius devises a plan to show that the king and queen that Hamlet loves Ophelia. Polonius hid behind a curtain while Ophelia talks to Hamlet
Why do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to Elsinore? What reason do they give Hamlet for their arrival at Elsinore? What is Hamlet’s response? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern went to Elsinore to see what was wrong with Hamlet. They agree to spy on Hamlet and report to Claudius. They told Hamlet they just came to see him, but Hamlet doesn’t believe them.
What news did the messengers bring from Norway? What request does the King of Norway make of Claudius? They inform Claudius that the King of Norway will redirect his attack toward Poland, if his army can through Denmark.
Describe the plan Hamlet devices to determine his uncle’s guilt. Since the ghost already told Hamlet that Claudius was guilty of murder, why does Hamlet want to “double check”? Hamlet’s plan is to create a play acting out his father’s death to see Claudius’ reaction. Hamlet doesn’t want to kill someone based on the word of a ghost. Hamlet also wants to make sure for himself that the ghost was telling the truth. Hamlet is going to write scenes for the actors play to perform in their play.
As Polonius attempts to explain the reason for Hamlet’s madness, Gertrude interjects, “More matter, with less art.” What does she mean by this? Gertrude wants to get to the point.
Ophelia willingly told her father about Hamlet’s love letter and other shows of affection. Do you think what she did was right? Why or why not? Hamlet was acting crazy so Ophelia telling her father worked in Hamlet’s plan.However, Hamlet might actually love her and his plan might cause trouble in his life. Ophelia does the right thing to protect herself.
characterization of Ophelia – young and lovely woman- loves Hamlet but agrees not to see him- naive for believing Hamlet’s offers are sincere- honest- trusts her dad- confused- Polonius’s daughter and Laertes sister
characterization of Laertes – Polonius’ son- Ophelia’s brother- wishes to go back and resume his life in France
characterization of Gertrude – Queen of Denmark- Hamlet’s mother- remarried to Claudius (her dead husband’s brother)- in denial of her husband’s death
characterization of Old King Hamlet (ghost) – specter of Hamlet’s recently deceased father- claims to have been murdered by Claudius- calls Hamlet to avenge him- in purgatory- wants revenge on his brother
Hamlet – prince of Denmark- son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet and the nephew of the present king Claudius- melancholy, bitter, cynical, full of hatred toward his uncle and his mother for being together- depressed suicidal- has a relationship with Ophelia- assumed an antic disposition- trying to avenge his father’s death- smart, thoughtful- talking about how things aren’t right- doesn’t accept things as they are
Francisco – soldier and guardsman – “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark”
Horatio – Hamlet’s close friend- loyal to Hamlet
Marcellus and Bernardo – soldiers who first witnessed the ghost- called Horatio to witness it
Cornelius and Voltemand – 2 courtiers that were sent to Norway by Claudius to ask the king of Norway to prevent Fortinbras from attacking Denmark
Why do Bernardo, Francisco, and Marcellus invite Horatio to keep watch with them? Bernardo, Francisco, and Marcellus have too Horatio about the apparition and he says they are imagining it. Horatio won’t believe anything they say. They want him on their shift so that if the ghost appears he can see what they have seen and speak to it.
Why do the soldiers keep a nightly watch at the castle? The late king was a great rival of the king of Norway, Fortinbras. Fortinbras dared him to battle. In the fight, King Hamlet killed King Fortinbras. Norway must surrender all her territories to Denmark. King Fortinbras’ son gathered a bunch of outlaws and they want their land back. The soldiers are posted to keep watch against anyone trying to attack.
What do the men think is the reason for the appearance of the ghost? The men think the late king is there to warn them about misfortune.
How do the men try to communicate with the ghost? What is their future plan to communicate with it? Horatio goes out to meet it. He asks the ghost to speak. Horatio asks if there is a good deed he can do that will bring the ghost peace and honor. He asks if the ghost has secret knowledge of Denmark’s fate which could be avoided if they knew about it ahead of time or if it has some buried treasure that is making him restless and he wants them to know about it. Marcellus tries to strike it with a sword. Then they decide to tell Hamlet
Why does Claudius send emissaries to Norway? Claudius has written to Fortinbras’s uncle, the present head of Norway, to tell him about his nephew’s Fortinbras’s, plans to get back the territory his father lost to Denmark.
Why had Laertes returned to Denmark from France? What request does Laertes make of the king? Laertes returned to Denmark for Claudius’ coronation. He felt it was his duty to be in Denmark for his event. Laertes wants to return to France because that is where his wants to be, where his life is.
An aside is when a sentence or two is spoken in an undertone by one character to the audience or sometimes to another character. It is understood that the remaining characters on stage do not hear the aside. The aside helps the audience know a character better by allowing that character to privately express feelings, opinions, and reactions. When the king address Hamlet as cousin and son, Hamlet, in an aside to the audience responds, “A little more than kin, and less than kind,” What does this reveal about Hamlet’s feelings toward the king? Hamlet does not like that his uncle is now his stepfather. He feels it is too complicated and messy. He disapproves of his mother’s marriage to his uncle. He doesn’t consider his and his uncle’s relationship to warm and loving as family relationships should be.
What is the king’s criticism of Hamlet? Claudius feels that Hamlet is overdoing his grief for his father and is just being stubborn. He says that his emotional distress is a sign of an ignorant and weak mind and is not what God wants. He also calls Hamlet unmanly. He wants him to stop mourning and think of him as his new father.
Hamlet’s first soliloquy begins “O that this too too solid flesh would melt,….” What does Hamlet’s soliloquy reveal as the reasons for his state of melancholy? Hamlet feels his life is tired, stale, and pointless. He compares himself to a garden that is full of weeds. He is upset that his father has been dead for less than 2 months and his uncle has already married his mother. He says an animal would have mourned its mate longer. He is upset, but can’t tell anyone how he feels, he must keep it all inside.
How does Hamlet apparently feel about the wedding of his mother to his uncle? Give some examples from the reading to support your answer – Hamlet feels the wedding happened too fast: His mother’s tears weren’t dry before she wed, she went from the funeral to the wedding before her funeral shoes were even broken in, she couldn’t get enough of King Hamlet when he was alive, yet she married within a month of his death, an animal would have mourned longer than she did. – This marriage is wrong. It is against God: Only nasty weeds grow in his life–nasty seems to refer to his uncle and mother, his uncle is like a beast compared to his father who was like a god, his uncle is as much like his father as he is like Hercules, his uncle and his mother are sharing a bed of incest
What advice does Laertes give Ophelia regarding Hamlet? Laertes tells Ophelia not to marry Hamlet because Hamlet will have to marry someone for family reasons, not true love. Also that Hamlet does not respect Ophelia.
How does Polonius react to the news that Hamlet has been making “many tenders of his affection” to Ophelia? What does Ophelia agree to do regarding Hamlet? Polonius calls Ophelia a naive little girl for thinking these offers were real. Ophelia agrees not to waste her time with Hamlet.
Why do you think Hamlet reacts this way to the ghost’s appearance? The others try and stop Hamlet from following the ghost because they are afraid it will lead him to his death.
The ghost, claiming to be the spirit of Hamlet’s father, commands Hamlet to avenge his “foul and most unnatural murder.” According to the ghost, how was Hamlet’s father murdered? By whom? For what reasons? As the king was sleeping in his garden, a villain poured poison into his ear, now the very villain who now wears his crown.
What last orders does the ghost give Hamlet before it leaves? The ghost told Hamlet to bring revenge against Claudius but not to act against his mother in any way.
What do Hamlet and the ghost require of all the men present? Hamlet requires all the men swear upon his sword not to reveal what they have seen.
Hamlet says he will “put an antic disposition on.” Why does Hamlet want to pretend he is crazy? Hamlet is trying to decide how to handle the problem that King Claudius poses. He detests Claudius and the fact that he has taken his place not only on the throne but also in his mother’s bed. He figures that by appearing to be crazy he might keep suspicion away while he decides what to do.
Hamlet says: “The time is out of join. O cursed spite that I was ever born to set it right!” What is Hamlet planning to do? Hamlet is planning to bring justice to his father’s death. right the wrongs