Hamlet Study Questions

Which characters first see the Ghost (in Scene I,i)? What do they think the sightingmeans? Marcellus and Barnardo saw the Ghost before anyone else. They believe that the Ghost is an omen for disaster in Denmark.
What is Hamlet’s state of mind when we first see him? Why does he feel he is “too muchi’ the sun”? Hamlet is depressed due to the death of his father and resentful at what he considers his mother’s adultery. The line “too much i’ the sun” is punning sun/son; he is saying that he is too much a son now that Claudius has married his mother so soon after his father.
Why does Ophelia resolve to reject Hamlet? Her father has persuaded her that Hamlet intends merely to seduce her.
What does the ghost tell Hamlet? He says that Claudius poured poison in his ear and caused his death. He then orders Hamlet to avenge him, but to leave Gertrude alone to allow her conscience and Heaven to punish her.
What effect do Polonius’s instructions to Reynaldo have on our opinion of Polonius? Polonius is shown to be dishonest, as he doesn’t care about actions such as gambling or fighting
What cause does Polonius see for Hamlet’s apparent madness? Polonius believes that he is lovesick
What tasks do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take on for the King and Queen? The King and Queen order them to figure out why Hamlet seems to be going mad
How does Hamlet treat Polonius? How does he treat Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?How does he treat the Players? Hamlet is sarcastic towards and dismissive with Polonius.Hamlet is nicer to his old friends but is somewhat condescending towards themHamlet is very nice to the Players
What special arrangement about their performance does Hamlet make with the Players? Hamlet tells the Players to add a special part to their play where one character pours poison into the king character’s ear and a woman regrets having committed adultery
What is Hamlet’s idea in doing this? Hamlet wants to see if Claudius and Gertrude are truly guilty
What do we learn from Claudius’ speech in Act III Scene I, 49 – 54? Claudius killed his brother and feels guilty for it
What is the subject of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy? The subject is suicide. Will Hamlet kill himself or not?
How does Hamlet treat Ophelia in Act III Scene I? How does Ophelia react? Hamlet accuses Ophelia of dishonesty and treats her poorly: he tells her that he no longer loves her, tells her to go to a nunnery, claims women who wear makeup are hiding and states that all people who are married will die. Ophelia is horrified.
Does Claudius believe Hamlet is in love? Does he believe he is mad? Claudius decides Hamlet is neither in love nor mad. He instead believes that Hamlet is “brooding” about something.
What happens in the pantomime and the play which the Players present? Is there any hintin the “play within the play” that Gertrude is guilty of either murder or adultery? Howdoes Claudius react? The play/pantomime shares many similarities with real lifeā€”the king’s jealous brother is applicable to Claudius for example. Gertrude’s reaction implies that she is guilty of adultery. When the villain of the play pours poison into the king’s ear per Hamlet’s suggestion, Claudius to jump from his seat, call for light and leave the room.
What does Gertrude do after the play? She leaves the room and requests to speak to Hamlet alone.
What plans do the King and Polonius make? They plan to send Rosencrantz and Guildernstern to England with a letter saying that Hamlet must die
What does Claudius do and say when Polonius leaves him? Why doesn’t Hamlet killClaudius at this point? Claudius pretends to pray and admits he killed Hamlet’s father. Hamlet doesn’t kill Claudius because he wants to send Claudius to Hell.
How does Hamlet accuse Gertrude? How does she react? Why does she think Hamlet ismad? What promise does she make? Hamlet attacks Gertrude verbally and calls her an adulterer. Gertrude admits her soul is black with spots. She believes Hamlet is mad because he addresses the Ghost in apostrophe, and promises to not have sex with Claudius.
Why does Claudius claim he wants to send Hamlet to England? What is his real reason? Claudius claims he wants to send Hamlet for diplomatic reasons, but he really wants Hamlet to be killed
How does Ophelia react to her father’s death? Whom does the King ask to watch overher? Ophelia goes insane, so Claudius asks Horatio to watch over her
What does Laertes do when he learns about his father’s death? He reacts with a pure rage and demands that Claudius reveal his father’s murderer
How does Hamlet happen to kill Polonius? He stabs into curtains, assuming that Claudius was hiding behind them
How does Claudius quiet Laertes? Claudius convinces Laertes that they can work together to kill Hamlet
What happens to Ophelia? How do we learn about it? We learn through Gertrude that Ophelia drowned herself
What is the first topic the two clowns discuss? What do they decide? They discuss why Ophelia had a Christian burial despite committing suicide, and eventually decide it happened because she was rich
What does Hamlet talk about while he and Horatio watch the clowns did the grave? Hamlet talks about the lives of the skeletons the gravediggers come across
Who was Yorick? King Hamlet’s jester
What does Laertes do as Ophelia’s funeral ends? What does Hamlet do then? Laertes leaps into the grave and declares his love for his dead sister. Hamlet jumps in to declare his love and starts a fight.
How has Hamlet escaped Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? What will happen to them?Why? Out of anger for their cooperation in his nearly avoided death, Hamlet swaps out their letter with a letter calling for their deaths.
What do Hamlet and Laertes do in the final scene? What does Hamlet say to Laertesbefore they begin? Hamlet and Laertes fight a duel. Before they begin, Hamlet asks for forgiveness and claims his madness caused him to kill Polonius.
How is the Queen poisoned? She drinks from Hamlet’s poisoned cup
What does Laertes do before he dies? Laertes tells Hamlet that the King is to blame for all this death
How does Claudius die? Hamlet stabs him with the poisoned blade and then forces him to drink the rest of the poison.
What does Hamlet persuade Horatio to do? Hamlet persuades Horatio to stay alive and tell their story
Who will restore order in Denmark? How has his arrival been prepared for? Fortinbras, the new king, will restore order. The land he wants, however, is worthless, blunting his victory.