Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2

1. Shakespeare opens this scene with Claudius’s first speech as King ofDenmark (lines 1-38). What are 4 topics he discusses in this speech? Pages 21-23: 1. He explains his recent marriage to Gertrude, his brother’s widow and the mother of Prince Hamlet. 2. Claudius says that he mourns his brother but has chosen to balance Denmark’s mourning with the delight of his marriage. 3.He mentions that young Fortinbras has written to him, rashly demanding the surrender of the lands King Hamlet won from Fortinbras’s father 4. He dispatches Cornelius and Voltimand with a message for the King of Norway, Fortinbras’s elderly uncle.
2. What is Claudius asking Laertes when he says, “What wouldst thou beg,Laertes/That shall not be my offer; not thy asking?”(lines 45-47). What could you ever ask for that I wouldn’t give you?
3. a) What is Laertes’s answer to this question?Page 25:b) What does Polonius mean in lines 60-63?c) What does the king mean when he says, “Take thy fair hour, Laertes” (line 64). I want your permission to go back to France, which I left to come to Denmark for your coronation. I confess, my thoughts are on France, now that my duty is done. b. My son has worn me down by asking me so many times. In the end I grudgingly consented. I beg you, let him go. c. leave when you like, Laertes, and spend your time however you wish
4. When a character speaks in an aside, he talks only to the audience—not toanyone on stage. Hamlet’s first line of the play is an aside. What does hemean when he says “A little more than kin and less than kind” (67)? Too many family ties there for me.
5. a) When the King asks Hamlet why the “clouds still hang” on him (68),what is he asking?b) Quote Hamlet’s answer to his question.c) Explain the double meaning to Hamlet’s answer. Why are you still so gloomy, with a cloud hanging over you? Hamlet is still wearing his mourning clothes in respect for his dead father. b. “Not so, my lord. I am too much i’ the sun.” (67) c. Where Claudius used to be his uncle, now he is his father. Hamlet is his “son”. The “sun” is also another word for a king.
6. a) In the Queen’s first lines (70-71), she tells Hamlet to do 2 things. Whatare those things?b) What does she tell him NOT to do in lines 72-73?c) In line 74, the word “common” means usual, familiar, or accepted.According to the Queen, what is “common” (74-75)? 1. stop wearing these black clothes and 2. be friendly to the king. B. You can’t spend your whole life with your eyes to the ground remembering your noble father. C. Death happens all the time, what lives must die eventually, passing to eternity.
7. In line 76, the word “common” means low or vulgar. Explain how Hamletinsults his mother when he says “Ay, madam, it is common.” What is”common,” according to Hamlet? Grief. “Seem,” mother? No, it is. I don’t know what you mean by “seem.”
8. The Queen asks Hamlet, “Why seems it so particular with thee?” (78).Put her question in your own words. So why does it seem so particular to you?
9. Summarize Hamlet’s answer to Gertrude’s question by focusing on lines 79-89.Page 27: Neither my black clothes, my dear mother, nor my heavy sighs, nor my weeping, nor my downcast eyes, nor any other display of grief can show what I really feel. It’s true that all these things “seem” like grief, since a person could use them to fake grief if he wanted to. But I’ve got more real grief inside me that you could ever see on the surface. These clothes are just a hint of it.
10. Explain what the King thinks of Hamlet’s grief for his father in lines 92-98. He thinks Hamlet is a good son to mourn his father like this. But you have to remember, that your father lost his father, who lost his father before him, and every time, each son has had to mourn his father for a certain period. But overdoing it is just stubborn. It’s not manly. It’s not what God wants, and it betrays a vulnerable heart and an ignorant and weak mind. Since we know that everyone must die sooner or later, why should we take it to heart? You’re committing a crime against heaven, against the dead, and against nature. And it’s irration-al, since the truth is that all fathers must die. Please give up this useless mourning of yours and start thinking of me as your new father.
11. Put in your own words Claudius’s words to Hamlet (lines 110 -116). Because everyone knows that you are the man closest to this throne, and I love you just as much as any father loves his son. And your plans for going back to Wittenberg are not what I want.
12. When Claudius asks Hamlet not to go back to school at Wittenberg, he says,”And we beseech you, bend you to remain/Here in the cheer and comfort ofour eye,/Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.” What does he mean by”bend you”?Page 29: I’m asking you now to stay here in my company as the number-one member of my court, my nephew and now my son too. Bend means to change your mind or your plans.
13. A soliloquy is defined as a speech a character delivers while he or she isalone on the stage. Put into your own words the first lines (133-136) ofHamlet’s soliloquy on page 29: “O, that this too, too sullied flesh wouldmelt,/Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew/Or that the Everlasting had notfixed/His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! Ah, I wish my dirty flesh could melt away into a vapor, or that God had not made a law against suicide.
14. What is Hamlet saying about life in these lines: How weary, stale, flat,and unprofitable /Seem to me all the uses of this world!” (137-138). How tired, stale, and pointless life is to me.
15. It’s obvious that Hamlet thinks his father was better than Claudius.Explain how Hamlet compares the 2 of them when he says, “So excellenta king, that was to this/Hyperion to a satyr” (143-144). Such an excellent king, as superior to my uncle as a god is to a beast, and so loving toward my mother that he kept the wind from blowing too hard on her face.
16. a) What does Hamlet mean when he says, in line 150, “frailty, thy name iswoman!”b) To whom is he referring and why?Page 31: Oh women! You are so weak! B. He is referring to his mother Gertrude because she has fallen for Claudius.
17. Explain what Hamlet is saying about Claudius and King Hamlet in lines157-158. there she was marrying my uncle, my father’s brother, who’s about as much like my father as I’m like Hercules. Less than a month after my father’s death, even before the tears on her cheeks had dried, she remarried. Oh, so quick to jump into a bed of incest! That’s not good, and no good can come of it either
18. How do you know, in the closing lines of this speech, that Hamlet isangry with his mother? What specific phrase does he use to let you knowthis? See lines 161-162. Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tearsHad left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,She married. O most wicked speed, to postWith such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
19. What does Hamlet mean when he says, “But break, my heart, for I musthold my tongue” (164)? But my heart must break in silence, since I can’t mention my feelings aloud.