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Hamlet Study Questions
Character Study - Individual Tasks
RG Short Summary
RG Full Summary
RG Character List
RG Study Sheet
RG Study Questions
RG The Player
Language in both texts
Hamlet Study Questions
Study Guide questions
You have 23 questions to answer. Use quotation and detail to answer this work.
Act I Questions
1. As the play opens, what is the mood? Looking closely at the text, what words or phrases can you find that Shakespeare uses to help set the tone and prepare us for what's to come?
2. Part of Horatio's job in 1.1 is to provide exposition. What has happened that might warrant a ghost stalking the castle?
3. From what you see in 1.2, what kind of a king is Claudius?
4. Hamlet is in stark contrast to the festivity of the coronation. Compare and contrast the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual differences between young Hamlet and Claudius's court.
5. Read Hamlet’s soliloquy. What is his main concern in this soliloquy?
Act II Questions
1. In Act 2.1. Ophelia is greatly concerned over Hamlet's behavior. What evidence does he give that something is wrong? What are the possible explanations given by Polonius in 2.1 and 2.2? Do you agree with his reasoning?
2. Who are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and what are they doing at court? How are we supposed to feel about them?
3. One of the play's major themes, illusion versus reality (transformation ), begins to take centrestage in Act 2. Where do you find evidence of this theme being explored? What possible messages could Shakespeare be trying to convey?
4. What are your impressions of Polonius ? Give evidence from Act1 and 2 to support your ideas?
5. When the players arrive, at Hamlet's request they reinact a selection from Aeneas and Dido. Why this play? How does it echo Hamlet's main storyline?
Act III Questions
1.3.1 is perhaps most well known for its "To be or not to be" speech. What ideas does Hamlet express in this speech?
2.The idea of Hamlet's madness takes greater hold in this act. Is it merely an idea, though? What support can you find for Hamlet actually being mad? For him faking madness?
3.What is the significance of the inclusion of the play within the play?
4.What function do the players serve? Beyond performing the play in which to catch the king, what themes do they underscore? How do their actions mirror the other characters in the play
5.Why doesn't Hamlet kill Claudius? Should he have used his opportunity?
Act IV Questions
1. As act IV unfolds, Claudius is becoming more and more uncomfortable with having Hamlet around. How does he try to get rid of Hamlet, while continuing to look innocent?
2. Hamlet shows a great deal of wit and cleverness in this act. Where can you find examples of Hamlet's nimble brain?
3. 4.4 has Fortinbras moving over the countryside. Where is he going? Why? What about this journey upsets Hamlet so much? What does seeing Fortinbras do to Hamlet? How is he moved by what he sees?
4. Hamlet's questionable madness is starkly contrasted with Ophelia's real madness in Act 4. What has precipitated her madness? Was it necessary for her to go insane
Act V Questions
1. What purposes do the gravediggers' exchange (with each other and with Hamlet) serve? How do they function in the story? What themes and issues do they introduce?
2. Why do Hamlet and Laertes fight in Ophelia's grave?
3. How did Hamlet escape being killed in England? How does he feel about having Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed in his stead?
4.What does Hamlet mean by "the readiness is all" (5.2.218)? What does such a statement reflect about him?
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