english world

Project Description:

hamlet study questions

act i
why are the guards so nervous and jumpy at the opening of the play?
what sort of “inappropriate” clothing does hamlet wear to the queen’s wedding?
when hamlet complains that “the everlasting … had fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter” what is he contemplating doing?
why does laertes tell his sister not to trust hamlet’s interest in her?
what advice does polonius give to his son as he sends him off to paris?
what secret does the ghost reveal to hamlet?
what does the ghost ask hamlet to do? to whom is he to show mercy?
what does hamlet mean by saying he might put on an “antic disposition”?

act ii

why does polonius send reynaldo to paris?
who does claudius send to spy on hamlet?
why does hamlet add a scene to the play he is having the actors perform for the king?
why is hamlet so disturbed by watching the actors weep on stage for hecuba?

act iii
paraphrase hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy. what two interpretations are suggested because “to be” can mean “to act” in elizabethan english?
why does hamlet fail to kill claudius in the chapel, when the king is alone and hamlet armed?
why is hamlet’s inaction ironic?
how does the “play within a play” change the king’s course of action?
why does hamlet stab through the arras (curtain) in gertrude’s room?
how does polonius get killed?
who stops hamlet from doing violence to gertrude?

act iv
what is the king’s plan to get rid of hamlet?
how does the king win laertes over to his side?
contrast laertes to hamlet in temperament and personality.
why does ophelia go mad?
how does ophelia die?
what does hamlet learn of fortinbras’s plans? how does he contrast himself to fortinbras?

act v
why are the doctor and priest hesitant to bury ophelia in holy ground?
how do gertrude, laertes, claudius, and hamlet die?
what ruler shows up in the final act to discover all the dead bodies?
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