“Hamlet” Study Guide

Know the situation and significance of the following:a. The appearance of the ghost in Act 1 The appearance of the ghost in Act 1 opens the play in a suspenseful atmosphere. Right from the start of Hamlet the audience is already starting to ask questions that can’t be answered. Not only does it create questionable theories, the ghost appears at a certain time which is usually around midnight-3. The ghost is also dressed in his armor which is the attire he died in.
b. Hamlets treatment of his mother (Oedipal Complex)
c. Claudius’ speech in Act 1, Scene 2 Claudius speech demonstrates that as he becomes the new king of Denmark his obligation is to look over the kingdom and give Hamlet his throne once he is ready for it. His priority is to protect Denmark not become a dictator.
d. Polonius’ speech to Laertes When Laertes is getting ready to go off the France Polonius gives him advice on how to behave and act properly once he’s there. He sends him off with words of wisdom and treats him with kindly with the way he expresses himself. The most significant advice Polonius tells Laertes is to “to thine own self be true.” (always stay true to yourself) This speech further demonstrates that Polonius treat Laertes with compassion and respect, while he degrades and treats Ophelia as if she were a slut. Polonius different behavior shows the two faced hypocrite that he is
e. The dialogue between the ghost and Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 5)
f. Hamlet and Ophelia’s interaction( the times we see them together)
g. Hamlet’s To Be or Not To Be speech Hamlet’s soliloquy contemplates death, living, and God. His soliloquy addresses his question on whether or not it being better to be alive or dead. He questions on living and all the trouble he is going through as for if he were to die it would all be simple to not deal with anything. Him dealing with his father’s death has brought him much trouble and taking action has put him in a difficult place. Not wanting to fail and get revenge it’s a lot to handle. Throughout he shows emotions such as confusement and unsure of himself.
h. Hamlet’s speech to Horatio (Act 3, Scene 2) The situation is that Hamlet having trust issues he appreciates Horatio for being a true and loyal friend. The significance of this is that Hamlet shares on his views of Horatio mentioning that he admires him as a friend who has helped through these times. He praises his friendship and loyalty.
i. Claudius’ confession and Hamlet’s réponse to it Claudius confession is made when asking for penance and praying. In this situation Hamlet over hears him confessing to a murder. This gives Hamlet his answer in getting his revenge. Being inside the small church, Hamlet realizes that if killing him there his sins are free. Hamlet then decides he still has to kill Claudius just not at the time.
j. Gertrud’s Bedroom Scene (Polonius’ death and the appearance of the ghost) This bedroom scene deals with Hamlet finally speaking with his mother queen Gertrud and telling her how he feels. Hamlet has gone crazy over his fathers death and disapproves his mothers actions. Polonius being in Hamlets business, Hamlet stabs someone behind the curtain and kills Polonius. This scene demonstrates to Gertrud believing that Hamlet has gone wild. At the time of Him speaking to his mother the ghost of his father appears and Hamlet goes crazy in his reaction. This demonstrates for the queen to be worried and to follow through the process of sending Hamlet to England.
k. Claudius’ plans for Hamlet and how Hamlet turns the tables (both with the trip to England and the poisoned wine) From a time Claudius had been wanting to get rid of Hamlet, only now that he had gone crazy he though it was best to send him off to England. Claudius having his own plan on revenge for Hamlet he thinks he knows his weak spot. Getting shipped off to England and finding out he is ordered to be killed, changes the letters with new instructions. Hamlet breaking free returns to prison (Denmark). The significance of this shows the nothing will stop him yet and gives him more eager to get revenge. Hamlet shockingly shows him wrong by winning the duel with Laertes. At this scene the queen drinks wine and she then dies. Hamlet being stabbed with poised quickly forces Claudius to drink the same poison as his mother is killed with. The significance is that Hamlet got his revenge at all limits and to where it lead him he did what was best. He did the unexpected and came around.
l. Laertes’ réaction to his father’s death and Ophelia’s suicide Hamlet stabbing Polonius to death and not realizing it was Claudius behind the curtain he killed him. Laertes finding out about his father’s death while he is in Paris he runs back to Denmark and is frustrated about is fathers death because he storms in the castle. Ophelia being very depressed and sad later then also dies by drowning. To take all this news Laertes rage builds in wanting revenge for his family’s death and wants to kill Hamlet with all the anger he has, he blames Hamlet for everything.
m. The graveyard scene Literary devices: comic relief and foreshadowing. The significance of this scene is that Hamlet realizes that no matter rich or poor everyone ends in the same place. Also, the graveyard scene foreshadows how everyone in the play is gonna be dead.
n. The duel scene and the deaths of everyone A calmer Hamlet recounts the events leading up to his escape from the plot to kill him. He says that he is convinced now more than ever that divine providence governs man’s life, and that things happen as they are meant to happen. The significance of this scene is that Hamlet at this moment realizes that whatever must happen will happen which is a huge switch of attitude because until this point Hamlet had been so obsessed with getting revenge.
o. Fortinbras’ entrrance at the end of the play Fortinbras’ entrance at this time in when he finds the royal family of Denmark all dead. He walks into a mess and trouble between the family. The significance of this is that he is to bring good news of doing what he was told to do of kill the two other characters. To come and find out that he is the one receiving news of what he sees. The bad news is that the royals got into a bloody mess but that leaves him to take the throne.
p. The funerals
Know the speaker, situation and the significance of the following lines: a. “Frailty, thy name is woman!” Act 1, Scene 2
b. “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.” Act 1, Scene 3
c. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Act 1, S 4
d. There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” A 1, S5 Speaker: Hamlet. Situation: Hamlet is talking with Horatio and Marcellus and making them swear to not say a word of them finding about the ghost interaction between Hamlet. During this scene the ghost only speaks inside Hamlets head and as only him being able to see him he suggest that there are things outside of this world that can’t be explained.
e. “Thought this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” Act 2, S2 Speaker: Polinius Situation: Horatio states this as an “aside”, saying that even though Hamlet is talking crazy it actually makes sense or it has a “method”.
f. “Denmark’s a prison.” A2, S2 Speaker: Hamlet Situation: Hamlet explains to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on why they are in Denmark and what brings them to prison. Hamlet refers to Denmark as a prison because he feels trapped and locked up as a prisoner.
g. “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” A2, S2 Speaker: HamletIn this scene Hamlet is having a conversation with rosecranrz and guildenstern. In which Hamlet states everything is about perception, to him Denmark was a prison because he had no way to escape the eyes of everyone who was watching him.
h. “Thé lady protests too much, methinks.” A3, S2 Speaker: Gertrude Literary device: irony Gertrude says that Player Queen affirms so much as to lose credibility. Her vows are too elaborate, too artful, too insistent. More cynically, the queen may also imply that such vows are silly in the first place, and thus may indirectly defend her own remarriage.
“I must be cruel only to be kind.” A3, S4 speaker: Hamlet
“Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night.” A4, S5
“The rest is silence.” A5, S2 Speaker: HamletFinally, a major theme of the play is mortality and the question of what comes after. We see this in Hamlet’s statements about the ghost of his father, about Yorick, about men going to die in battle. We see it, most famously in “to be or not to be” and in an “undiscover’d country”. “The rest is silence” could be a statement of uncertainty: Hamlet is about to find out the answer to this question but he cannot tell anyone what it is.
“For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.” A5, S2 Speaker: FortinbrasFortinbras is speaking to Horatio and who is left. He accepts the nomination made by Hamlet and says that what is unfair is the circumstances by which he earned all the fortune.