"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

--Hamlet

Delacroix Hamlet

Hamlet

Directions: There are no Discussion Questions due for this week because of the holiday. But I have provided questions for you below to help you understand the play. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them on the Discussion Board.

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

1. In your interpretation of the play, did Ophelia commit suicide? Or was her death an accident? Or was her death a murder? Explain.

2. Was the Queen aware of her husband's plot before Hamlet told her? Explain.

3. Was Hamlet just pretending, or was he really insane?

4. Is order restored at the end of the play?

5. What plan do Polonius and the King cook up to find out the cause of Hamlet's insanity? How is Ophelia involved?
6. Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy is in this scene (III.1.). What is the speech about?
7. Why is Ophelia giving back all of Hamlet's gifts?
8. How do you interpret this encounter between Hamlet and Ophelia? Is he being cruel to her or warning her? How does she perceive their conversation?
9. How does their encounter arouse the King's suspicions? What does he decide to do about it?
10. What does Polonius suggest they try next to find out the cause of Hamlet's insanity?
11. In III.2, how does Shakespeare's professional voice emerge through Hamlet's instructions to the Players?
12. What does Hamlet says about his feelings for Horatio in III.2.? What does he ask Horatio to do in III.2.?
13. How does Hamlet treat Ophelia at the performance of the play? (III.2.)
14. What scene do the Players act out? What is the King's reaction?
15. What is the Queen's reaction to the play?
16. How does Hamlet reprimand Guildenstern in III.2.393ff.?
17. In III.3., what does the King order Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do?
18. What does Polonius plan to do while Hamlet meets with his mother?
19. In the King's soliloquy, does he repent for the murder of his brother?
20. Why does Hamlet decide not to kill the King while he's praying? (III.3.) What is ironic about his decision?
21. Why does Hamlet kill Polonius? What are his emotions and reactions after the murder?
22. What does Hamlet tell his mother in this scene? (III.4.) What is her reaction?
23. Hamlet sees the Ghost in this scene. Why does the Ghost appear? Does the Queen see the Ghost?
24. In IV.2., Hamlet warns Rosencrantz and Guildenstern once again not to let themselves be used by the King. What does he say? Do they understand?
25. What secret plan does the King have in sending Hamlet to England? (IV.3.68ff.)
26. In IV.4., Hamlet speaks to a captain of Fortinbras's army. What does the captain tell him? What is Hamlet's response? What is the dramatic purpose of this scene?
27. What does Hamlet debate in his soliloquy following his conversation with the Captain? (IV.4.34ff.) What decision does he make at the end of it?
28. In IV.v., the Queen does not want to speak to Ophelia. Why does she agree to see her, anyway? (IV. v. 5ff.)
29. Ophelia sings songs to the King and the Queen in IV.5. Do they have any meaning, obvious or hidden? Do they relate to her situation in any way?
30. Laertes returns from France after he hears of the death of his father, convinced that the King is responsible. How does the King convince him otherwise? (IV.5.)
31. When Ophelia sings her songs and distributes her flowers in IV.5., is there any meaning to her ramblings and actions, or is it all nonsense? Could the King perceive her as a danger?
32. According to the King, why could he not kill Hamlet after Hamlet kiled Polonius? (IV.7.)
33. Why does Hamlet send a letter to the King telling him he's alive? Why not give more information in the letter? (IV.7.)
34. How does the King manipulate Laertes into helping him plan Hamlet's murder? (IV.7.)
35. What is the plan Laertes and the King concoct? (IV.7.145ff.)
36. What does the Queen tells Laertes about Ophelia's death? (IV.8.186ff.)
37. The gravediggers have doubts about burying Ophelia in hallowed ground. Why? (V.1.)
38. What are Hamlet's thoughts about life and death and social class in V.1.?
39. What joke does the gravedigger make about the English? (V.i.155ff.)
40. What does Hamlet say when he realizes the skull he's looking at belonged to Yorick, his old friend? (V.i.190ff.) Why is this speech in prose, rather than in verse?
41. What is Hamlet's reaction when he realizes Ophelia is dead?
42. In V.2.11-12, Hamlet says, "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will." Explain what he means.
43. When Hamlet read the King's letters addressed to England, what did they say? What did he do with the letters?
44. Does Hamlet have any remorse for what he did to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? What reasons does he give Horatio?
45. Does Hamlet have a premonition of his death? Does he do anything about it?
46. How does Gertrude die?
47. How does Laertes die?
48. How does the King die?
49. How does Hamlet die? What two things does he request of Horatio before he dies? In what way does he echo the Ghost in this scene?
50. Who inherits the throne of Denmark?
51. What similarities, in character and situation, exist between Hamlet and Fortinbras? What differences?


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