ETS4U: Complication to Climax
From the Ghost to “Antic-Disposition” then the “Mouse Trap”
(I, iv-III, ii)
Questions for I, iv:
1. What is the effect of having Hamlet comment upon the drinking habits of Denmark?
; shows his disapproval of drinking custom, also his disapproval specifically of Claudius, feels it brings
the nation disgrace and takes from the country's reputation
2. How does Hamlet philosophize from this specific custom to the general account of mankind?
; Some men have one foul flaw/blemish in their natures which makes them appear corrupt; a mere suspi-
cion or particle of evil can corrupt the whole man.
3. What is Hamlet’s first reaction to the ghost? How does he address the ghost? Why?
; fear, terror; is it good or evil? It looks like his father, but is it?; blends idea of father and king
4. When the ghost beckons Hamlet, why does Horatio warn him against going? What is Hamlet’s response?
; Ghost may tempt him to suicide or madness; Hamlet is unafraid- he follows.
Questions for I, v:
1. What images are most dominate in lines 59-75 ("sleeping within mine orchard . . .")?
; the ugliness of poison spreading throughout the body
2. What specific warning does the ghost give to Hamlet regarding his mother?
; "leave her to heaven"
3. What is the warning regarding the way he carries out his revenge?
; "taint not thy mind"-his revenge must be righteous and just
4. Why does Hamlet make the men swear to secrecy? How does the ghost emphasize this request?
; Even though they did not hear the story, they did see the ghost; if Claudius finds out about the ghost, he will
think Hamlet is dangerous; ghost's voice echoes "swear."
5. What does the line "the time is out of joint" mean?
; "Out of joint" is disjoint or disjoined; Hamlet feels the world is "out of joint"-Denmark is disunited, weakened;
things are not what they should be; Hamlet’s job is to set things right and reestablished ‘chain of being’
; once the ghost commands revenge, Hamlet (if he is to remain honorable) must publicly prove that the
accusation is true. Otherwise, he has only the ghost's word and only he has heard the ghost. In addition, the
ghost might be a demon in the guise of the late king. Hamlet must become a detective to prove the ghost's story.
Questions for II, i
1. What are Polonius' orders to Reynaldo? What does this further suggest about Polonius’ character?
; He is to find out what Danes Laertes associates with, how and where he spends his time, how much
money he spends, and whether he is leading a loose life with low companions.
; Polonius reveals his suspicious nature, his low opinion of his son (by directing Reynaldo to spy on
Laertes). Polonius will also be engaged in other spying activities during the play. In other action during
the scene, Polonius immediately jumps to the conclusion that Hamlet is mad because Ophelia has
rebuffed his love.
2. Complete the Activity Sheet “There’s a Method to His Madness”
; Hamlet's behavior towards Ophelia consists of being unkempt in dress, holding her hand hard and staring
silently into her eyes. Ophelia reacts in a confused, even distraught manner. Hamlet's conversation with
Polonius is full of non-sequitors, but is also full of clever barbs directed at Polonius. Polonius assumes Hamlet's
actions are a reflection of his unrequited love for Ophelia.
1. Feigning madness would throw suspicion off Hamlet and allow him to do and say what he wants. 2. Before receiving Polonius' explanation of Hamlet's "lovesickness," the king has ordered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet and find out the cause of his madness. Even after Polonius' explanation, the king is still
skeptical and asks how Hamlet can be tested further. The queen believes Hamlet's madness is due to his father's death and her hasty marriage.
3. Most of what Hamlet says goes over Polonius' head, but he is intelligent enough to realize that Hamlet's remarks have some "method" (logical intent and sense) behind them.
4. When they keep asking how Hamlet has been feeling, Hamlet realizes their purpose and becomes angry with them. He even warns them that he is insane only when he feels like it. ("I am but mad north-northwest.")
; Continue to find examples of Hamlet's sanity and insanity throughout the play and come to your own conclusion
about whether Hamlet is insane or not.
Questions for II, ii
1. Why is the Player's description of the actions of Pyrrhus appropriate to Hamlet's plan?
; In it, the collapse of a state follows upon the slaughter of its old king.
2. . What is the significance of Pyrrhus' pause before killing Priam?
; He is distracted by the crash of the walls of Ilium and hesitates. His second thought roused by his purpose of
vengeance for his father's death moves him to finish his savage deed.
3. Why is the description of Hecuba's grief important?
; It recalls Gertrude's mourning for King Hamlet which she too soon replaced with wedding mirth.
4. Why does Hamlet say Polonius would be better to "have a bad epitaph" after death than "their ill report while you live."
; In the private theaters, actors often made derogatory remarks about people in high places.
5. Why does Hamlet, who has insulted Polonius so often, urge the players to treat him with respect?
; He is a little ashamed that he has mocked him in front of them.
6. Why do you think Hamlet asks them to learn a speech which he himself will write into the play, Murder of Gonzago?
; He wants to be sure that the play will contain all that he needs to make the King show his guilt.
7. Complete the Activity Sheet “Prose and Poetry”: Why and When?”
; Prose: 1. Prince and noble. 2. Polonius is speaking foolishly and Hamlet is pretending madness.
; Blank verse: 1. Commoner. 2. The player is acting a part, speaking of glorious events.
; Rhyme: 1. At the end of the scene. 2. The rest of Hamlet's soliloquy is in blank verse.
8. Analyze Hamlet’s second major soliloquy? How does it give insight into his state of mind and characterization?
Questions for III, i
1. What do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to the king about their mission?
; Failure; Hamlet remained aloof
2. What plan is next devised by Claudius and Polonius?
; They will watch Hamlet with Ophelia.
3. What do Polonius' lines (approx. 46-49) "We are oft to blame..." mean?
; We conceal reality with pious actions and devotions.
4. What effect do these lines have on the king?
Claudius admits his guilt for the first time but it is in an aside which no one hears.
5. Thus far, can you suggests any possible themes of this drama? Annotate the Activity Worksheet entitled “Tying up the
Threads” for more ideas re: Themes
6. Examine the activity sheet entitled “Decisions, Decisions”. Review the concept and purpose of a soliloquy and the paraphrase
Hamlet’s most famous one. Discuss your ideas with a peer.
7. Continue reading the scene, from the end of Hamlet's soliloquy to the end of the scene. Answer the following questions: a. Why does Hamlet assume his antic disposition in the scene with Ophelia?
; He knows she is being used by Claudius and Polonius; she lies to him.
b. What advice does Hamlet give Ophelia and why?
; Go to a nunnery; he sees women as evil and as breeders of evil.
c. Why is Hamlet's line "those that are married already, all but one, shall live" a mistake on Hamlet's part?
; Claudius is the "one" and he overhears the statement; thus he decides to send Hamlet to England.
Questions for III, ii
1. What positive and negative rules for acting does Hamlet set forth?
; POSITIVE: Speak fluently and distinctly. Use only natural gestures, suiting them to words. Watch your timing. ; NEGATIVE: Don't overplay a passionate speech to the groundlings who only understand the mime. Don't make
a fool o f yourself. Some actors make him wonder if God made them, since they imitated humans so abomina-
bly. Don't let the clowns steal the show.
2. What do you learn in this scene about Horatio as a person?
; He is not wealthy, has suffered much and has borne himself with philosophic calm through all his trials. 3. How does Hamlet regard him?
; as his best and only trusted friend, an unselfish and loyal supporter
4. What does Hamlet ask him to do during the play?
; Watch the king closely for any guilty reactions.
5. How does Hamlet play on words in his remarks to the King?
; He plays on 'fares" as eats; on "air" as empty as the King's promise that Hamlet will have the throne. 6. Why does Hamlet refuse to sit by the Queen and choose to lie at Ophelia's feet?
; He can observe Gertrude's reactions as well as the King's; he also rein-forces Po!onius' idea that his madness is
due to his love of Ophelia.
7. How many parallels can you name between the "Mouse-Trap" and Claudius' crime?
; (King asleep, poisoner kills him, poisoner woos the Queen)
8. Why is there no royal reaction to this sequence? Is Hamlet testing Gertrude as well as Claudius? ; Perhaps Claudius was not looking. More likely, he did not wish to show any reaction. The wooing of the Queen
in the dumb show and her acceptance might test Gertrude's guilt.