Hamlet Act III

wax (v) -to grow or become as specified-to grow or to increase (opposite of wane)
whet (v) to sharpen; to stimulate
haply (adv) by chance or by accident
temperance (n) moderation or self-restraint
gait (n) a way of moving on foot
pomp (n) a dignified or magnificent display; splendor; ostentatious or vain display
occulted (adj) concealed; hidden from view
heedful (adj) paying close attention to; mindful
metal/mettle (n) -one’s basic character or spirit-the stuff one is made of; one’s basic character
lament (n/v) to express sorrow or deep regret over
miching mallecho (n) sneaky; villainy
mischance (n) bad luck; a mishap; an unfortunate occurrence
vouchsafe (n/v) to grant or give, often as if doing a favor
fetters (n) chains or shackles attached to the ankles
beget (v) -to cause to exist or occur-to father; to sire; to cause to exist or occur; to produce
calamity (n) a disaster; great distress
contumely (n) insulting treatment; insolence
bawd (n) a female prostitute
calumny (n) a maliciously false and injurious statement; slander
tempest (n) a violent storm; furious agitation, commotion, or tumult; an uproar
inexplicable (adj) unable to be explained or interpreted
abominable (adj) detestably; loathsomely
robustious (adj) boisterous; vigorous; rough, coarse, or crude; violent; loud-mouthed
protestation (n) an emphatic declaration
lament (v) to express sorrow or deepest regret; to mourn
loath (adj) unwilling; reluctant
clemency (n) a disposition to show mercy, especially toward an offender or enemy
revel (v) to take great pleasure
beguile (v) to deceive; to cheat; to direct; to distract the attention of
vouchsafe (v) to grant or give, often as if doing a favor
choler (n) anger; irritability
closet (n) a small private room or chamber
Nymph mythological semi-divine spirits presented as beautiful maidens and associated with aspects of nature
Termagant legendary Muslim deity; as violently noisy character in medieval dramas
Herod Biblical king who ordered the infanticide of all male children in his efforts to murder the baby Jesus; was presented as a ranting tyrant in medieval dramas
Vulcan Roman god of the furnaces or blacksmith of the gods
Julius Caesar and Brutus Roman Emperor from 100-44 BC and his “friend, the Roman Senator who assassinated him. Caesars’s last words were, “Et tu Brute?”
Phoebus Greek sun god, Apollo
Neptune Roman god of the seas and oceans
Hymen god of marriage in Greek and Roman mythology
Hecate goddess of witchcraft, magic, underworld
Damon famous for being the faithful friend of Pythias
Nero Roman emperor who was rumored to havemurdered his mother
“Primal eldest curse…” (Cain) murdered his brother Abel and was condemned to a life of “a fugitive and a vagabond”
Hyperion one of the original 12 titans, father of Helios (Sun God) symbolizing the sun, the moon, dawn, light, and fire
Jove Roman version of Jupiter, god of sky and thunder, king of the gods
Mars Roman version of Ares, god of war
Mercury Roman version of Hermes, messenger to the gods
What does Claudius admit to himself (and the audience) about his crime? After Polonius tells Ophelia that pious words andacts can mask a truly sinful character, Claudiusadmits (in an aside) that he feels guilty andburdened (“O heavy burden!”) by the way his ownactions and words (“painted words”) have maskedhis crime.
List the personal grievances Hamlet expresses in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy. “Whips and scorns of time” symbolizes the upheaval of one social order ending and another beginning. (Is he predicting a new order in Denmark after his father’s reign is replaced with the superficial, pleasure-seeking Claudius?)”the oppressor’s wrong” symbolizes any dictator or authority figure taking advantage of his power. Also Claudius’ treatment of Hamlet i.e. not allowing him to return to Wittenberg, setting spies on him, etc…”the proud man’s contumely” symbolizes Polonius’s behavior and rude, condescending treatment of everyone; Claudius’ audacity”the pangs of disprized love” symbolizes Ophelia’s breaking up with him (for no apparent or expressed reason)”the law’s delay / The insolence of office” symbolizes Claudius becoming king instead of Hamlet as well as Claudius behavior as less than exemplary once he was crowned…”and the spurns / That patient merit of theunworthy takes” symbolizes Claudius and Polonius with the power and the influence – both of whom are unworthy – while Hamlet is more worthy than either and his father was a valiant and well-respected figure as well.
What metaphor does Hamlet use in his “to be or not to be” speech to express his developing understanding of death? How does he further develop his metaphor? He compares death to sleep. He adds to it by comparing the afterlife (especially the possibility of Hell) to bad dreams during the sleep of death.
What information does Ophelia provide about Hamlet’s character before the beginning of the play? Ophelia compares the now-obviously-mad Hamlet (at least from her perspective) with the bright, funny, gentle and genteel man Hamlet was before. She describes him as having been a very promising Renaissance prince.
Explain the ambiguity of the nunnery scene. Literally, a nunnery is a convent: On this level, Hamlet could be advising Ophelia to cloister herself away where she will escape the calamity that is to come and be safe and protected. Also, as a nun, Ophelia will not be a “breeder of sinners, a temptress to seduce otherwise virtuous men to sin.”On the other hand, nunnery is slang for a brothel:On this level, Hamlet could be accusing Ophelia (and, by extension, all women) of being a prostitute just like Fate is compared to a “strumpet” and Claudius compared his “painted words” (lies) to the painted face of a harlot. Women all present a false exterior. Motif of appearance v. reality!
What is the main thrust of Hamlet’s diatribe against Ophelia? Hamlet accuses Ophelia – although he is clearly talking about all women and his mother specifically of being a temptress, a seductress. As in the story of Adam and Eve, woman is the origin of evil in the world, having tempted man into sinning in the first place.”You jig, amble, lisp…” and remarry! Hamlet really is bothered by those “incestuous sheets.”
Why does Shakespeare begin this scene with Hamlet offering acting lessons to the players? How does this advance the plot, develop character, or help establish theme? Obviously, the entire play-within-a-play and the idea of everyone is “acting” and “all the world’s a stage” reinforces the theme of appearance v. reality.There are parallels between Hamlet’s instructions to the actors and his own desire to complete his mission properly1. He instructs the actors neither to overact in hot, bloody passion, nor to be to meek or bland – as he himself has tried not to be too hasty in his condemnation of Claudius and he has chastisedhimself for his inaction as well.2. He admonishes them to stick to the script and not improvise lines for themselves, just as Hamlet devised some sort of plan the night he first saw his father’s ghost and decided to act mad, and as he revised the play with his play-within-a-play trap to “catch the conscience of the king.” So, he too is an actor playing a part and reminding himself not to depart from his own script.
Why does Hamlet trust and admire Horatio? Horatio has the ability to remain calm and even-tempered regardless of the sorrow or joy he is experiencing. He is not a “slave to passions,” and does not make a public show of his emotions.
What does Hamlet admit to Horatio and the audience just before the company arrives to view the play? Hamlet has been sane and rational in his conversation with Horatio, explaining to him the purpose of the ply-within-the-play. As the others enter, he tells Horatio he must be “idle” that is, he must begin to act mad again. Thus he admits that his madness is a ruse.
How does Hamlet’s speech pattern change when the others enter the room to view the play? Why? Hamlet begins to speak in prose (breaking from the iambic pentameter’s rhythm). Like in earlier scenes, the prose emphasizes Hamlet’s wit and word play.
Why does Hamlet speak to Ophelia in such vulgar terms? “That’s a fair thought, to lie between maids’ legs” (60).”It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge” (64).Ambiguous and still being debated:Hamlet is still hurt by her abrupt breaking off of the relationship and return of his gifts. He is using Ophelia to vent his anger at his mother and his disgust of her physical relationship with Claudius. He is maintaining his madness ruse and using Ophelia to irritate Polonius and Claudius.
What does Gertrude’s reaction to the play indicate? The fact that Gertrude does not act at all guilty and even admits that she suspects the Player Queen of overacting (“the lady protests too much”) indicate that she is guiltless in her first husband’s death. But she is feeling decidedly uncomfortable about the comparison being made.
Explain the metaphor of the recorder. When R & G express a desire to understand Hamlet and the root of his distemper, Hamlet is angered and attacks them by saying that, if they have so little skill that they cannot make a recorder produce music, how can they presume to “play” Hamlet (get him to produce the reasons behind what is troubling him).
Explain the allusion to Nero in Hamlet’s closing speech. Nero’s mother’s second marriage is to a man named Claudius (ha!). Claudius adopts his new stepson and names Nero his successor and is then killed by poison mushrooms, so Nero becomes Emperor at 16. However, his mother was so powerful in her own right that Nero arranged to have her killed.Hamlet articulates the desire not to kill his mother. To “speak daggers” but not to use any real ones. But the other parallels – second marriage, emperor adopting stepson, the name Claudius, the death by poisoning – all indicate Shakespeare drew heavily from this history and crafted the allusion so his audience couldn’t miss the parallels.
How has the play-within-the-play changed Hamlet’s situation and influenced the action of the play? Hamlet has “tipped his hand” and Claudius is now aware that Hamlet suspects him of murder. Claudius is now positive that Hamlet poses a serious threat and is determined to take care of the problem, so he hastily arranges Hamlet’s trip to England that he mentioned earlier. Action of the play accelerates from here.
How does Polonius’ spying on the scene between Hamlet and Gertrude indicate a change in Gertrude’s status? Polonius says there should be a witness to the conversation other than the mother because she cannot be counted on to give a complete and unbiased account. This indicates Gertrude is no longer trusted.
In what paradox of salvation does Claudius feel trapped? Claudius is aware that he cannot repent of his sin [murdering his brother] while keeping what he gained as a result of the sin [his wife and his crown]. Note the Biblical Allusion to Cain.
Why doesn’t Hamlet kill Claudius when he has the opportunity? He says he cannot kill Claudius while Claudius is praying. Unlike his father, who had no time to ask for forgiveness and died with sins on his soul, Claudius would go directly to heaven. This would not be much of a revenge. Note the irony.
Explain the ambiguity and wordplay Hamlet and his mother exchange at the beginning of this scene.(HINT: look at formal v. informal and the use of the word “father”) Gertrude addresses her son with the informal”thou,” indicating intimacy, while Hamlet addresses her with the formal “you” indicating formality and distance. When Gertrude says that Hamlet has offended his “father,” she is referring to CLAUDIUS (how insensitive!). When Hamlet says, “Father,” he is referring to his dad, King Hamlet, Sr.
What is Hamlet’s reaction to killing Polonius? Matter of fact:At first he hopes it is Claudius he has killed. Next he expresses sorrow (however, not very much,) but quickly recognizes that Polonius was always a meddling fool. Finally, he calls it Fate or destiny.
What does this scene reveal about Gertrude’s guilt? This scene reveals that Gertrude is most likely innocent of participating in any conspiracy against her first husband and her son. She does not understand why Hamlet is so angry with her and treats her so rudely. She does not seem to understand any of the references to murder of Hamlet’s father.It is only when Hamlet compares the miniature portraits of his father and uncle that Gertrude begins to feel ashamed of how quickly she stopped mourning her godlike first husband, Hamlet (Hyperion) to marry his joke of a brother, Claudius (satyr).
What aspect of Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage still clearly bothers Hamlet the most? Hamlet is still clearly bothered by the physical/sexual aspect of his mother’s marriage. He constantly refers to the adulterous, incestuous sheets. He insists that his mother is too old to participate in that type of love and directs her not to go to Claudius’ bed any longer.
What is the significance of this second appearance of the Ghost? First, the appearance of the ghost is the vehicle by which Gertrude is convinced that Hamlet is indeed mad. (This will be useful when she explains to Claudius the circumstances of Polonius’ death.) Secondly, the ghost appears to remind Hamlet that his mission is not to wreak any vengeance against his mother but against Claudius.