What Ghosts Do Act one, Scene 1 Background As Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus confront and then discuss the ghost that has appeared to them, they demonstrate some superstitions and beliefs that they have about ghosts. Directions Reread the following lines and describe what assumptions the speakers are making about the ghost and ghosts in general. Lines: “In what particular thought to work I know not, but in the gross and scope of my opinion, this [seeing the ghost] bodes some strange eruption to our state. ” Assumption(s):
Lines: “If there be any good thing to be done that may to thee do ease, and grace to me, speak to me; if thou are privy to thy country’s fate, which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, oh speak! Or if thou has uphoarded in thy life extorted treasure in the womb of earth, for which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death, speak of it. ” Assumption(s): Lines: “We do it wrong, being so majestical, to offer it the show of violence, for it is as the air, invulnerable, and our vain blows malicious mockery. ” Assumption(s):
Lines: “I have heard the cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat awake the god of day, and at his warning, whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, th’extravagant and erring spirit hies to his confine. ” Assumption(s): A King’s Explanation and a Son’s Sorrow Act one, Scene 2 Background Hamlet’s father, after whom he’s named, has died. King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius, has taken over as king and married his brother’s wife, Hamlet’s mother. The King and Hamlet have two very different perspectives on the events that have occurred, but Hamlet must keep his feelings to himself.
Directions Reread the lines spoken by Claudius and Hamlet in the beginning of Scene 2 in order to answer the following questions. Please use complete sentences. 1. How does King Claudius make the marriage to his deceased brother’s wife seem reasonable? 2. How does Hamlet view his uncle’s marriage to his mother? 3. How does the King view Hamlet’s continued mourning for his father? 4. How does Hamlet specifically view his mother for marrying his uncle? 5. Horatio, the ghost’s presence, and now Hamlet have each foreshadowed trouble to come. What bad thing do you think is going to happen and to whom?
Brotherly Advice Act one, Scene 3 Background In Act one, Scene 3, Laertes warns Ophelia about Hamlet’s behavior toward her. Laertes, being a concerned big brother, doesn’t think that Hamlet’s affection for his sister will last. He wants to make sure that his little sister’s heart doesn’t get broken, so he urges Ophelia not to take Hamlet’s flirtations too seriously. Though times have changed and, for the most part, people no longer formally court each other, a sister being warned by her over-protective brother is a situation that could easily occur today.
Directions Write Laertes and Ophelia’s exchange into modern-day language, so that it sounds like a conversation that could actually occur today. You will need to use another sheet of paper. Suggested length: 3? 4 of a page–1 page. Profile of the Prince Act one, Scenes 2–4 Background In Hamlet’s speech in lines 16–41 of Act one, Scene 4, he contemplates the nature of humans and how a single character flaw can become a person’s downfall. Shakespeare often has his protagonists contemplate the nature of humankind, and then he goes on to show us their flaws.
Directions Based on each indicated passage below, answer this question: What do these lines say or show about Hamlet? • Hamlet to Gertrude, Act one, Scene 2, • Hamlet to Gertrude, Act one, Scene 2, • Hamlet, Act one, Scene 2, • Hamlet, Act one, Scene 2, • Laertes to Ophelia, Act one, Scene 3, • Hamlet, Act one, Scene 4, A Picture of Purgatory Act one, Scene 5 Background In Act one, Scene 5, lines 4–6 and 13–27, the ghost alludes to the fact that he must return to purgatory, a place where he will pay for his sins until they are purged and he can go to heaven.
The ghost says he’s forbidden to talk of the terrors of this place, but if he did describe them, it would be horribly frightening to mortals. Directions Reread the lines that the ghost speaks in the beginning of Scene 5. Then imagine that you are directing a modern-day movie version of Hamlet, with a nearly limitless budget. Although the ghost will not describe purgatory to Hamlet, you choose to show it to your audience. As the ghost in your version of the scene talks about his supernatural prison, have visions of it appear to the viewer. Use the text as a jumping off point, and detail what your version would look like.
Make your description as vivid as possible. Suggested length: 3? 4 of a page. What the Ghost Said Act one, Scene 5 Background Marcellus and Horatio try to keep Hamlet from following the ghost but are unsuccessful in holding him back. They decide to follow him. Directions Imagine that you are Marcellus or Horatio, spying on Hamlet speaking to the ghost, worried that the ghost will do some harm to Hamlet. In the space below, draft a report to your superior about what the ghost said to Hamlet in Scene 5. Suggested length: 3? 4 of a page to one page. Courtly Reporter Act one
Background Much of what happens in Act one sets up the themes of the entire play. Some events take place in public while others are private occurrences. Directions Imagine that you write a newspaper that focuses on the daily occurrences in Denmark’s royal court. Decide which events from each scene in Act one are important enough to warrant a write-up in your paper. In the space below, write an article incorporating those events. Use another sheet of paper, if necessary. Be sure to mention the people involved and the possibility of war with Fortinbras (discussed in Scenes 1 and 2). Scenes 4 nd 5 will have little coverage because the reporter would not know about the ghost. Suggested length: 1? 2 page to one page. Is War Imminent or Not? Act two, Scene 2 Background Voltemand, a councillor to the King, reports on the situation between Denmark and Norway. Directions Answer the following questions about Voltemand’s report to the King in order to better understand whether or not Denmark will go to war with Norway. 1. “Upon our first, he sent out to suppress his nephew’s levies, which to him appeared to be a preparation ’gainst the Polack. . . .” a. What did the King of Norway send? b.
The King of Norway believed that his nephew was rallying troops for war with what country? 2. “But better looked into, he truly found it was against your highness. Whereat grieved, that so his sickness, age, and impotence was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests on Fortinbras. . . .” a. Who was Fortinbras’s army really preparing to go to war with? b. What did the King of Norway do in order to rebuke Fortinbras once he discovered Fortinbras’s true intentions? c. Describe the King of Norway’s health. 3. “Which he [Fortinbras], in brief, obeys. . . and, in fine, makes vow before his uncle never more to give th’assay of arms against you. . .” What was Fortinbras’s response to the King’s rebuke? 4. “Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy, gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee and his commission to employ those soldiers so levied, as before, against the Polack, with an entreaty, herein further shown, that it might please you to give quiet pass through your dominions for this enterprise, on such regards of safety and allowance as therein are set down. ” a. What does the King of Norway want to have done with the troops that were gathered to fight against Denmark? b. What request does the King of Norway make of Claudius, King of Denmark?
The Power of a Play Questionnaire Act two, Scene 2 Background Hamlet believes that he will be able to tell whether or not his uncle is guilty of murdering his father based on Claudius’s reaction to a play showing a similar murder. Directions Answer the following questions in complete sentences, and be prepared to share your answers with the class. 1. Hamlet is convinced that his uncle’s reaction to the play will betray whether Claudius did indeed commit the murder that the ghost said he did. Do you think that a play can have this type of powerful emotional effect upon a person? Why or why not? . What do you think makes plays sometimes more powerful and captivating for the audience than movies? 3. Describe your favorite play, and explain why it is your favorite. If you could choose to see your favorite play again or to see your favorite movie in the theater, which would you choose and why? 4. Hamlet has been criticized by readers and scholars because he can’t decide what action to take and is unable to act quickly. Based on what you have read so far, do you think the critics are right or not? Do think Hamlet is taking too long to exact revenge upon his uncle? Why or why not?
Rewriting Hamlet’s Soliloquy Act two, Scene 2 Background In Hamlet’s Act two, Scene 2 soliloquy, he experiences a wide range of emotions: He feels disgust at his own inability to act quickly upon the ghost’s command to avenge his unnatural death, rage against Claudius, and joy at the thought of proving Claudius’s guilt (to name a few). Directions Reread this soliloquy and paraphrase this important speech, putting Hamlet’s thoughts in modern-day language. Imagine that you are Hamlet looking in the mirror at yourself, talking out loud to help sort through the many thoughts and emotions you are experiencing.
Write a summary of the soliloquy by condensing passages. You should try to come up with a general paraphrase rather than a lineby- line retelling. Use another sheet of paper, if necessary. Suggested length: 1 page or 30–40 lines. One Scene, Many Events Act two, Scene 2 Background Act two, Scene 2 is the longest scene in Hamlet, and many different events happen in it. To understand the play, it is necessary for readers to understand the importance of each event. Directions Read the following seven passages that refer to seven different events occurring in this scene.
Then write one sentence per event that identifies the event and briefly explains its importance to the plot of the play. Event 1: “I entreat you both that, being of so young days brought up with him. . . by your companies to draw him on to pleasures and to gather, so much as from occasion you may glean, whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus that, opened, lies within our remedy. ” (spoken by Claudius) Your sentence: Event 2: “Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway? ” (spoken by Claudius) Your sentence: Event 3: “Your noble son is mad. ” (line 97, spoken by Polonius) Your sentence:
Event 4: “At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him. Be you and I behind an arras then. ” (spoken by Polonius) Your sentence: Event 5: “Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come, deal justly with me. ” (spoken by Hamlet) Your sentence: Event 6: “The actors are come hither, my lord. ” (line 385, spoken by Polonius) Your sentence: Event 7: “I’ll have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks; I’ll tent him to the quick. ” (spoken by Hamlet) Your sentence: Ophelia’s Diary Act three, Scene 1
Background Ophelia believes Hamlet to be insane. Moreover, rather than declaring his love for Ophelia, Hamlet has become very rude to her. Directions In the space below, write a diary entry from Ophelia’s perspective about her situation with Hamlet, keeping in mind the following things from the play: • Ophelia was obeying her father’s command to rebuff Hamlet’s romantic overtures, and now he is acting insane. She may feel responsible. • Hamlet has gone from courting her to speaking very rudely to her in a very short time. She is probably not only bewildered but also heartbroken.
Use another sheet of paper, if necessary. Suggested length: 3? 4 of a page–1 page. A King’s Remorse Act three, Scene 3 Background In Act three, Scene 3, the King expresses a feeling he has repeated several other times in the play—that of remorse. He feels an oppressive guilt for the murder of his brother, and he longs to be absolved of the deed. Directions Answer the following questions to better understand the King’s speech and to explore your own feelings about revenge, betrayal, and forgiveness. 1. Why does Claudius feel he cannot pray? 2. Why does Claudius feel that there can be no forgiveness for his sin? . What is Claudius’s view of heaven? 4. Do you believe that there are some crimes so terrible that there should be no forgiveness, even if the perpetrator of the crime is truly penitent? 5. Do you believe that revenge is ever justified? For instance, if Hamlet kills Claudius, is that simply justice because Claudius killed Hamlet’s father, or is murder always wrong? Explain your answer. A Queen Looks Inward Act three, Scene 4 Background In Act three, Scene 4, Hamlet bluntly and sometimes cruelly tells his mother how wrong she was to marry his uncle after his father died.
Directions First, reread lines 46–57 and write the eight negative consequences that Hamlet claims Gertrude’s marriage has had. Second, imagine that you are the unhappy Gertrude, and you have been made to see your weakness and folly in marrying a man such as Claudius so soon after your first husband has died. You’ve seen Hamlet “speaking” to the ghost that you could not see, and you wonder if such a ghost really exists. You write a letter to your dead husband to be left on his grave with the hope of securing his forgiveness for marrying Claudius. Part I Eight Consequences of
Gertrude’s Marriage (according to Hamlet) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Part II Letter to King Hamlet from Gertrude. Hamlet, Cruel or Kind? Background After Hamlet rebukes Gertrude in Act three, Scene 4, for marrying his uncle, she claims that Hamlet has broken her heart. Hamlet later replies that he must be“cruel only to be kind”. So far, has Hamlet generally been cruel or kind? So far, is Hamlet the “good guy” in this story or not? You be the judge. Directions Think of what you have read of the play thus far. Decide whether or not Hamlet has been cruel or kind to the following characters and explain why you think so.
Refer to specific lines or events to support your answers. Also, if he has been cruel but you think his cruelty has been justified, explain that as well. 1. Polonius: 2. Ophelia: 3. Horatio: 4. Gertrude: 5. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: 6. Claudius: 7. The actors: From a King to a King Act four, Scene 3 Background Claudius tells Hamlet that, because Hamlet has killed Polonius, Hamlet must leave for England for his own safety. In a brief soliloquy, Claudius then tells the audience that he is really planning on having Hamlet murdered.
He is going to detail how and why the deed must be done in a letter to the King of England. Directions Compose the letter in which Claudius tells the King of England that Hamletmust be killed and write it below. It is no small thing to order the death of a prince, the rightful heir to throne of Denmark, so make sure that you make the reasoning for his death appear absolutely necessary. Make the letter formal, scholarly, and befitting a king. Use events from the play (the death of Polonius, Hamlet’s insane ranting, and so forth) as support that Hamlet must be put to death.
Revenge Background Like Hamlet, Laertes has sworn to avenge his father’s death. The fact that Polonius’s death and funeral were hushed up and shrouded in secrecy have made Laertes suspicious and angry. How Laertes goes about exacting revenge is different from how Hamlet goes about it. Directions Think about the differences in how Hamlet and Laertes go about attempting to avenge their fathers’ deaths; after rereading the following lines/passages, detail what they show about each man’s personality/character. Line(s)/Passages Personality/Character/Temperament 1.
Hamlet, Act one, Scene 2, 2. Hamlet, Act two, Scene 2, 3. Hamlet, Act three, Scene 3, 4. Hamlet, Act four,Scene 4, 5. Laertes, Act four, Scene 5,Laertes’s lines throughout 6. Laertes, Act four, Scene 7,Laertes’s lines throughout Hamlet’s Spy Act four, Scene 7 Background Hamlet has just returned from England, and he knows that the King wants him dead. Hamlet knows he must be very cautious about how he proceeds now. Directions Just as Polonius spied on Hamlet, you are going to imagine that you are a dear friend of Hamlet’s who is sent to spy on the King and Laertes.
Reread Act four, Scene 7, and then tell Hamlet everything you heard and learned. Write your retelling in the space below. Use another sheet of paper, if necessary. Suggested length: 3? 4 of a page to 1 page. Headlines Act four Background Much of the important action in Hamlet occurs in Act four as the play builds up to its tragic conclusion. Directions Decide which event is central to each of the scenes in Act four. Then write a headline depicting those events for each of the seven scenes. Remember .. use vivid action verbs, and are straightforward and attention-getting.
Generally, articles (a, an, the) are left out of headlines. 1. Scene 1 Headline: 2. Scene 2 Headline: 3. Scene 3 Headline: 4. Scene 4 Headline: 5. Scene 5 Headline: 6. Scene 6 Headline: 7. Scene 7 Headline: Writing like Shakespeare Act five, Scene 1 Background In every Shakespearean tragedy, there are comic elements (like the gravediggers) and speeches during which life and death are pondered (as in this scene, when Hamlet speculates that no matter what we were or did during our lives, we all end up the same in the end).
Directions With a partner, write another brief scene between (a) the two gravediggers or(b) Horatio and Hamlet. A scene between the gravediggers will be comic, punning on words unknowingly as two commoners would do, treating lightly the morbid work that they do. A scene between Horatio and Hamlet will be retrospective, with Hamlet growing melancholy and pensive as he speculates on life and death. Write the scene using Shakespearean language, drawing upon the play for cues. Use another sheet of paper, if necessary.
Suggested length: approximately 40 to 50 lines or about 11? 2 pages. Switching the Orders Act five, Scene 2 Background In the beginning of this scene, Hamlet tells Horatio how he intercepted the note carried by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that commanded Hamlet’s death and wrote another note detailing that they be put to death instead. Directions First, carefully reread lines and give more specifics about what Hamlet actually wrote in the letter to the King of England and compose a letter to the King of England asking for the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Then, in the space below, write a brief but formal note from the King of England to Claudius, King of Denmark, explaining that the deed has been done. Horatio’s Explanatory Report to Fortinbras Background In the final scene of the play, Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet all die. During the course of the play, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern have also died. Directions Imagine that you are Horatio, the one believable and informed witness to all of this death, and Fortinbras—who is to be named King—wants an accounting as to how all of these deaths occurred.
In the space below, write him a report, starting with the murder of King Hamlet by his brother, Claudius. Use another sheet of paper to finish the report. Include all of the subsequent deaths and the causes for them. Suggested length: 1–2 pages. Writing an Obituary Directions By the end of the play, many characters are dead. In the space below, write anobituary about one of them. Use another sheet of paper, if necessary. Draw from what you know of the character based on his or her actions and dialogue during the play.
Read some sample obituaries from your local newspaper to get a sense of how obituaries are typically structured and the kinds of information they usually contain. You may want to write this in Shakespearean English. Suggested length: No less than 1 page. Was Hamlet a Tragic Hero? Directions Write a multi-paragraph essay that explores your perception of Hamlet: Was he a tragic hero or simply a grieving son who thought too much and acted too little? Use events and quotations from the text for support. You will need to use additional sheets of paper to complete the essay. Suggested length: 3–5 pages. He is a grieving son .