HAMLET READING GUIDE

 

I, i

 

1.       a) Describe the atmosphere.                           

b) How is it created?

 

2.       Horatio is a scholar.  How is this revealed?

 

3.       Name the reasons given by Horatio to explain the Ghost’s appearance.

 

4.       Explain how the Ghost is impressive (awe-inspiring).

 

I, ii

 

1.       What kind of king is Claudius?  Prove.

2.       Name the four items on the Privy Council’s Agenda.  Why is each important? (dramatic significance).

3.       Rewrite Hamlet’s soliloquy in modern English.

4.       Identify the following in the soliloquy:

a)       meaning

b)       mood/attitude/nature

c)       motivation (why is he saying this?)

d)       imagery – what does each image suggest about Hamlet’s character?

e)       Antithesis, repetition, lists, other literary terms

 

I, iii

 

1.       Assign character traits to Laertes, Polonius, and Ophelia using quotes as proof.

2.       How are Laertes and Polonius similar?

3.       How is sympathy created for Hamlet and Ophelia?

4.       Polonius hands out eight sentences of advice.  Summarize each and rank in order of importance.  Justify your choices.

 

I, iv

 

1.       Of what particular habit of Claudius’ does Hamlet disapprove?  Why?

2.       Explain a possible irony in Hamlet’s comments beginning, “So oft it chances in particular men” (lines 23-36).

3.       What reason do Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus have to fear the ghost?  (Can you think of a situation in Macbeth that is similar?)

4.       Why does Marcellus state: “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark?”

 

I, v

 

1.       Why was Old Hamlet’s murder “most foul’ and ‘unnatural?’

2.       What does Hamlet’s line “O my most prophetic soul” indicate?

3.       Compare Old Hamlet’s comments about Claudius and Gertrude with Hamlet’s in I, ii.

4.       What special warning does the ghost give Hamlet?  Why?

5.       Describe and account for Hamlet’s behaviour to Horatio and Marcellus.

6.       What do the lines “O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right” tell us about Hamlet’s state of mind?

 

 

 

 

II, i

 

1.       And thus we do of wisdom and of reach,

With windlasses and with assays of bias,

By indirections find directions out.

 

By means of specific references, show how Polonius practices the philosophy referred to here.

2.       Describe and account for Hamlet’s behaviour to Ophelia as she reports it to Polonius.

3.       a) What does Ophelia’s account reveal about her character?

b) What does Polonius’ reaction reveal about his character?

1.       It has been suggested that Hamlet sought out Ophelia in the hope that she would give him support and strength.  What evidence is there of this in Ophelia’s description?  If this is true, what decision did he come to?  Illustrate from the text/

 

II, ii

 

1.       a) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive at the Danish court.  Why?

b) Summarize Hamlet’s attitude towards them, giving the reason why.

2.       a) What report is brought to Claudius by the ambassadors to Norway?

                b) Why is this introduced into the play?