1) Choose ONE QUESTION from EACH ACT for a total of 5 questions.
2) Write substantive answers 3-4 sentences, minimum. Include:
• Direct quotes for at least 3 answers to back up your responses.
• Correct page (text) citation (Shakespeare 1234) NOT the numbers below (1.1.8, etc.)
What do the numbers in the questions below mean, such as:
TRANSLATION: 1.1.8 means Act 1, Scene 1, Line 8.
BELOW in your QA questions, the Acts and Scenes, and Lines are referred to by number to help you find
your info easier in our ever-changing textbooks, plus easier to find on your textbook page:
But DO NOT use for your citations here or in your essay.
NOTE: Some MLA Format allows for use of this in text citations BUT NOT US, for our own purposes.
Please CONTINUE to use page numbers for your quote citations to prove you are using your textbook.
WHY? If you use line numbers, I might too easily wonder if you are using work from another source, that
And you've worked too hard for that question to arise. Using page numbers from our textbook is another
assurance you are doing original work.
(Choose ONE from each Act)
REMEMBER THE FORM TO USE:
• Do not use the 1.1.1 form with your direct quotes to back up your answer.
• Use the same text citation form you do for all your other QAs and your essays-author and page
number (Shakespeare 1234)
• You don't have to put the question. The answer is what is important. Just be sure the answers have the
correct question numbers. Add direct quote for THREE (3) of your answers.
• At bottom of QA assignment, put full textbook citation for "Hamlet" as seen in the WORKS CITED
ACT I CHOOSE ONE QUESTION:
1. What is the mood of the guard in 1.1? Point out specific examples of this mood such as "I am sick at
heart" (1.1.8). What in particular is responsible for this mood?
2. A ghost usually appears for a reason. Horatio catalogs some of the usual reasons in 1.1.127-42. What
are these reasons?
3. We first meet Claudius, the king, in 1.2. What "green" memory (1.2.2) does he refer to? What does
Claudius tell us in 1.2.8-16?
4. We first meet Hamlet in 1.2. Explain Claudius' question to him in 1.2.66: "How is it that the clouds still
hang on you?" Explain the conversation with Gertrude about"seems" (1.2.68-86).
5. Read Claudius' speech in 1.2.87-117. Summarize what he says about the deaths of fathers. What
important information do we get in lines 108-09?
6. Explain what Hamlet says in 1.2.129-37. What is his mood? Note the garden metaphor in these lines.
7. Read1.2.137-59. How do these lines help to explain Hamlet's mood?
8. Act 1, Scene 2, lines 129-59 is what is called a "soliloquy." Define "soliloquy." Why is the information
we get in a soliloquy particularly valuable in reading a play?
9. In the scene between Hamlet and Horatio, 1.2.160-258, Hamlet reaches an important decision (24345). What is this decision, and what are its dangers?
10. Act 1, Scene 3 is a scene of advice giving. What advice does Laertes give Ophelia about her
relationship with Hamlet? What advice does Polonius give Laertes? What does Polonius advise (perhaps
even command) Ophelia in 1.3.121-36?
11. Hamlet first sees the Ghost in Act 1, Scene 4. How does he react to the Ghost in 1.4.38-69?
12. Act 1, Scene 5 contains some very important information about Hamlet's father's death. What does
the Ghost tell Hamlet in 1.5.34-40? What does Hamlet mean when he responds "O my prophetic
13. The Ghost explains his murder in detail (1.5.59-80). Summarize how the murder was committed.
14. In1.5.81-91, the Ghost gives Hamlet a task to perform. What does the Ghost say about Gertrude?
15. Hamlet's third soliloquy follows the Ghost's exit (1.5.92-109). Describe Hamlet's mood at this point.
16. When Hamlet talks to his friends following the encounter with the Ghost, he says, "It is an honest
ghost, that let me tell you" (1.5.138). What does he mean by"honest," and why is this such an important
issue in the play?
17. Read1.5.166-80 carefully. What plan does Hamlet describe? Explain "antic disposition."
ACT II CHOOSE ONE QUESTION:
1. In the scene between Polonius and Reynaldo (2.1.1-74), what does Polonius ask Reynaldo to do?
(Polonius will use spying again later in the play, and it will result in his death.)
2. What has frightened Ophelia at 2.1.75? Describe Hamlet's appearance as she reports it to her father.
3. What does Polonius assume to be the matter with Hamlet? See especially 2.1.101-07. What action
does Polonius take (2.1.101 -120)?
4. What does Claudius say to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in 2.2.1-18?
5. Polonius tells Claudius and Gertrude "I have found / The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy"(2.2.48-49).
Then in very wordy speeches he explains what he has learned (2.2.86-149). Summarize what Polonius
tells the king and queen.
6. Polonius prepares a plan to test his theory about Hamlet's behavior. What is that plan?
7. Hamlet puts on his "antic disposition" with Polonius (2.2.170-211). What leads Polonius to conclude:
"Thought his be madness, yet there is method in't" (2.2.200-01)?
8. When Hamlet meets with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he says "I know the good King and Queen
have sent for you" (2.2.265). Hamlet describes to them why they were sent for. Study carefully 2.2.27990. What in particular does Hamlet say about humankind.
9. Who are "the players" Rosencrantz refers to in 2.2.295? What are they going to do? (The discussion at
this point makes reference to the actors of Shakespeare's day and especially to the contemporary War of
the Theaters during Shakespeare's time.)
10. What does Hamlet tell his friends in 2.2.343-47? Why are these reminders of his mental state
important to us?
11. When the players arrive, Hamlet's greeting is friendly and shows that they are not strangers to
him(2.2.383-91). Hamlet requests a particular speech as a preview. This speech is important for two
reasons: (1) It shows Pyrrhus acting assertively and taking revenge. (2) It also shows Hecuba's deep
emotion. How are these two elements related to Hamlet and the revenge the Ghost asked him to take?
12. Hamlet has another soliloquy at the end of Act 2 (2.2.500-59). Read this passage carefully. What is
Hamlet's mood in the first two-thirds of this speech? In the last third, Hamlet has a definite plan. What is
his plan? Explain especially 2.2.557-59.
ACT III CHOOSE ONE QUESTION:
1. In the opening scene of Act 3, Claudius refers to Hamlet as "dangerous" (3.1.4) although Hamlet has
not yet given him any reason to think so.We hear that Claudius has a plan for learning more. Explain
2. Study 3.1.56-89, Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. This is a kind of philosophical debate
showing Hamlet's scholarly/analytical/philosophical mind at work. What subject is he debating? What
does he say about it? Comment on the accuracy of his statement in 3.1.83-88.Is Hamlet acting like a
3. Read 3.1.88-143, the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia (which Claudius and Polonius are spying
on). Discuss Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia. Should we believe "I lov'd you not" (3.1.117)?
4. Discuss 3.1.144-55 as a picture of what Hamlet used to be like. (This view from Ophelia, speaking in a
soliloquy, is important in helping us to have a complete picture of Hamlet.)
5. Claudius speaks of "danger" from Hamlet again in 3.1.161. What plan does Claudius have?
6. In the banter before the play begins, Hamlet's remarks to Ophelia are full of sexual innuendos. What
does this show about Hamlet? Compare to 3.1.144-55.
7. The"dumb show" that starts the play-within-the-play scene is a conventional Renaissance device. As
Ophelia explains, this pantomime "imports the argument of the play" (3.2.123). Describe the pantomime.
8. Act 3, Scene 4 is the structural turning point of the play. An important element in building the intensity
of the scene is Claudius' attempt at prayer (3.3.37-73). Explain carefully the dilemma Claudius is in. What
does this scene add to our picture of Claudius?
9. Why does the Ghost reappear at this time? Since Gertrude cannot see him, what does she think?
10. What are we to make of Hamlet's attitude in 3.4.211-16? Is he displaying a lack of sensitivity?
ACT IV CHOOSE ONE QUESTION:
1. Act 4, Scene 1 is short and succinct; however, it gives us a portrait of Claudius at work. How does this
scene present Claudius as a good politician?
2. Read 4.3.17-35. Hamlet's thoughts are focused on death. Discuss the naturalistic tone of his language.
What does this show about Hamlet?
3. Read 4.4.32-66, Hamlet's last soliloquy. How does Hamlet feel about Fortinbras' action? How does
Fortinbras' action contrast with Hamlet's own inaction? On what note does this soliloquy end?
4. In 4.5, Ophelia enters insane. Her communication is all in fragments of folk songs, some of them
bawdy. What is Claudius' reaction to this new problem (see 4.5.65 -92)?
5. In the second half of 4.5, we see Laertes as a foil to Hamlet. What's a"foil?" [A literary term--look up
that definition under the word "foil"] Characterize Laertes in this scene (especially 4.5.126-32)
6. In Act 4, Scene 7, Claudius tells Laertes his version of Polonius' murder. When Laertes questions why
Claudius did not earlier take action against Hamlet, what two reasons does Claudius give (4.7.9-24)
7. Laertes and Claudius propose two back-up schemes in case the "sword unbated" (4.7.137) fails. What
does Laertes propose? What does Claudius propose?
ACT V CHOOSE ONE QUESTION:
1. Hamlet's dialogue about the skulls shows the extent of his disillusionment with humanity. Compare his
view of humanity in this scene to what he said in 2.2.279-90. How does the Clown's cheerful acceptance
of the nature of death and time's inevitable changes contrast with Hamlet's attitude?
2. Discuss the problem posed by the Clown's statement that he has been gravedigger since the day
Hamlet was born (5.1.126-27), which was thirty years ago (5.1.140). What age would you assign to
3. Hamlet's comments on Yorick's skull (5.1.161-70) comprise one of the often-quoted passages in the
play. Who was Yorick? How is this skull more "personal" to Hamlet than the others?
4. How should we react to Laertes' behavior in Ophelia's funeral scene? How should we react to
Hamlet's behavior? What is the effect of 5.1.242-44?
5. After Osric brings word of the duel to Hamlet and after a Lord comes to announce the time of the duel,
how does Hamlet react? In particular, what does he say in 5.2.193-97? Why do you think he reacts this
6. The final scene is filled with deaths. Exactly what causes the death of each of these: Gertrude,
Claudius, Laertes, Hamlet?
• PUT FULL TEXTBOOK CITATION AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR QA.
• DO NOT USE LINE NUMBERS OFFERED HERE FOR STUDY USE.
• USE TEXTBOOK PAGE NUMBERS IN CORRECT TEXT CITATION FORM.
NORTON TEXTBOOK--END OF Vol. 1:
--THE BIO: "WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE" (Find page number in Table of Contents or Index)
• Pay particular attention to information under the heading "HAMLET"
--THE PLAY: "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" by William Shakespeare (Should immediately follow
Want to read it online? Here's a good one (most on the internet are not). Just remember to use textbook
page numbers for citations:) If link is dead, copy/paste into browser:
Purchase answer to see full