"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."


Delacroix Hamlet


Directions: After reading the lecture, answer one of the main questions, which will appear in bold. This question is due no later than Thursday, Mar. 22. Following that will be other questions, in black, which you should read and think about--they may help you answer the main question. However, you are not required to answer these questions in writing.

Your responses to other students' answers are due by midnight on Sunday, Mar 25. In order to get the full 20 points, you MUST respond thoughtfully to at least 2 other people's postings.

This set of discussion questions is worth a possible 20 points. Remember: late answers receive 0 points, so post early :)

We will be using the Canvas Discussion Board for this class. Click on the link below to get to the Canvas portal, sign in, and then click on the box for this class. You will find the "Discussions" link on the left side of the screen:

Discussion Board

Hamlet Link

Remember: You are required to answer only one of the "red" questions, although you are, of course, welcome to answer more than one if you wish.

1. How is the theme of appearance vs. reality introduced in the first two Acts of Hamlet? Give specific quotes and examples for support.

2. In the first two Acts, is Hamlet truly suicidal, or is he just sad and angry over his father's death and his mother's remarriage? Give specific quotes and examples for support.

1. What tone is set by the opening dialogue between Bernardo and Francisco?
2. What story do Bernardo and Marcellus tell Horatio?
3. Whose Ghost do they see?
4. Marcellus asks Horatio why Denmark is preparing for war. What does Horatio tell him?
5. Who does Horatio mention Julius Caesar? How does this foreshadow events to come in Denmark?
6. What does Horatio decide to do after seeing the Ghost?
7. It customary to begin a play featuring the main characters in the first scene. But none of the major characters appears in Scene 1 of Hamlet. Why not? What purpose does Scene 1 serve?
8. In I.2, what information does the King give in his opening speech?
9. What does Laertes ask of the King?
10. What does the Queen ask of Hamlet in I.2.70ff.?
11. Why is Hamlet insulted by her request? Why is he so angry at her and the King?
12. The King advises Hamlet not to grieve for his father so long and deeply. What is his reasoning? How does Hamlet react to it?
13. Hamlet has his first soliloquy in I.2.133ff. What does he say?
14. What does Horatio tell Hamlet in I.2.?
15. At the end of I.2., what does Hamlet say about the truth?
16. What advice does Laertes give Ophelia as he departs for France? How does she react to his advice?(I.3.)
17. What advice does Polonius give Laertes in this scene?
18. What does Ophelia tell Polonius about her relationship with Hamlet? What does he order her to do?
19. In I.5, what does the Ghost tell Hamlet? What does he ask Hamlet to do? What does the Ghost say about the Queen?
20. What is Hamlet's reaction to the Ghost's revelation, and to his request?
21. Hamlet swear Horatio and the others to secrecy, and tells Horatio what strategy he will use to get at the truth. What will he do?
22. How does Hamlet feel about the task that's been given to him?
23. As Act II opens, Polonius is giving money and orders to Reynaldo. What is Reynaldo's mission? What does this scene reveal about Polonius's character and methods?
24. What does Ophelia tell Polonius about Hamlet in this scene?
25. Why did the King send for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Do they understand his true motives?
26. What do Cornelius and Voltimand, just returned from Norway, tell the King about Fortinbras? (II.2.)
27. In II.2., what does Polonius tell the King and Queen about Hamlet? What plan do they concoct to find out the cause of his insanity?
28. Is Polonius convinced that Hamlet is insane?
29. In II.2., what does Hamlet ask Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? What is their response? What does he tell them about how he feels?
30. What do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tell Hamlet about the child actors? What is the purpose of this passage? (II.2.350ff.)
31. In II.2.402-3, Hamlet says, "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw." What does he mean?
32. Why, in II.2., does Hamlet ask the players to perform this particular speech from Aeneas and Dido?
33. What does Hamlet mean when he calls the players "the abstract and brief chronicles of the time"? (II.2.550)
34. In Hamlet's soliloquy after the Players leave (II.2.575ff.), how does he berate himself?
35. What does he plan to have the Players do? What is his purpose in this?

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