Shakespeares Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Shakespeares Hamlet, Prince of Denmark ...

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark


    Claudius, King of Denmark Marcellus, officer

    Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Bernardo, officer

    Polonius, Lord Chamberlain Francisco, soldier

    Horatio, friend to Hamlet Reynaldo, servant to Polonius

    Laertes, son of Polonius Fortinbras, Prince of Norway

    Voltemand, courtier Queen Gertrude

    Cornelius, courtier Ophelia, daughter of Polonius

    Rosencrantz, courtier Ghost of King Hamlet

    Guildenstern, courtier Clowns, Gravediggers, etc.

    Osric, courtier


    King Hamlet has suddenly died; his brother, Claudius, has taken the throne through marriage to King Hamlet‟s wife, Gertrude. Prince Hamlet is very upset—both about the death of his beloved father, and his mother‟s quick marriage to her brother-in-law. Hamlet learns through Horatio that his father‟s ghost has appeared on the battlements of Elsinore. Hamlet encounters the ghost there and learns that Claudius has murdered his late father. Hamlet swears he will have swift vengeance, but he doubts the honesty of the ghostwas it truly his late father? Prince Hamlet feigns madness in

    order to confirm his uncle‟s guilt. He denounces Ophelia, whom he had loved, and succeeds in convincing her father, Polonius, of his madness. The arrival of a company of actors at the Danish court provide him with further opportunity; he persuades them to stage an old play whose story parallels Claudius‟s crime. Claudius gives himself away and orders Hamlet to England, where he plans to have Hamlet killed. Hamlet confronts Gertrude in her chamber, and stabs the eavesdropping Polonius, mistaking him for King Claudius. Determined to avenge Polonius‟s death, his son Laertes returns to Denmark, where he finds Ophelia mad. News reaches Claudius that Hamlet is back in Denmark; he plots with Laertes a duel in which Hamlet‟s death will be assured by a poison-tipped sword. News of Ophelia's

    drowning death makes Laertes even more determined to make Hamlet pay for his actions. The duel between Laertes and Hamlet takes place; it culminates in the death of Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet. The play ends with Fortinbras of Norway, newly-proclaimed King of Denmark, ordering a military funeral for Hamlet.


    While the main plot focuses on Hamlet, the subplots of the play are also significant. They are: --The loss of a father figure—Hamlet has lost his father, and has a new “father figure” in Claudius]. Two other sons lose their

    fathers during the plot of the play, Laertes and Fortinbrasbut their reactions are quite different. What is this meant to


    --The political situation between Denmark and Norwayand the character of young Fortinbras, as a contrast to Prince

    Hamlet, is important. Politics play a significant role in the play, as does the idea of what qualities make a good political leader;

    we can not forget that Hamlet is to one day be king of Denmark.

    Major Themes:

    --Revenge: Hamlet searches continuously for the answer to the question of whether or not he should avenge his father‟s death. His concern with right and wrong in religious, moral, and political terms causes him much inner turmoil. Contrast this

    with the revenge taken by Laertes and the actions of young Fortinbras.

    --Appearance vs. Reality: The play contains many situations in which the surface appearance of things does not always match reality. Hamlet struggles to determine who his true friends are; the players in the acting troupe assume new identities;

    Claudius appears to be a true and just king, and Gertrude his virtuous queenbut are these appearances reality?

--Sanity vs. Insanity: In many ways this conflict is intertwined with the theme of appearance vs. reality. Hamlet‟s sanity or

    insanity has baffled critics for years. Even the characters in the play discuss the inconsistencies in Hamlet‟s behavior,

    sometimes assuming his is really insane, and at other times noticing his clarity of thought.


    Timing, Timing, Timing: When events occur is often important, so here is a list:

Acts and scenes Times and Places

    Act I, scene i Midnight, at the battlements of Elsinore Act I, scene ii and iii The next day

    Act I, scenes iv and v The following night

    Act II, scenes i and ii Six or eight weeks later

    Act III, scene i The next day

    Act III, scenes ii, iii, iv That evening

    Act IV, scenes i, ii, iii, iv The same evening, immediately following Act IV, scenes v, vi, vii A few weeks later

    Act V, scenes i and ii Four or five days later

    ACT I

    Scene i:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is important.

1. Our last king,

    Whose image even but now appeared to us,

    Was as you know by Fortinbras of Norway,

    Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride

    Dared to the combat, in which our valiant Hamlet

    (for so this side of our known world esteemed him)

    Did slay this Fortinbras. . .

    . . . Now, sir, young Fortinbras. . .

    . . .to recover of us by strong hand

    And terms compulsatory those foresaid lands

    So by his father lost” [I. i. 80-104]

2. “If thou hast any sound or use of voice,

    Speak to me. . .

    If thou art privy to thy country‟s fate,

    Which happily foreknowing may avoid,

    O, speak!” [I. i.128-135]

3. “But let us impart what we have seen tonight-

    Unto young Hamlet, for upon my life

    This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him

    Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

    As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?” [I. i. 169-173].

    SUMMARY: Act I, scene I: On the castle wall in Elsinore, a sentry, Bernardo, replaces Francisco on guard and is

    joined by Horatio and Marcellus. Bernardo and Marcellus tell of a supernatural being they have seen. The ghost

    of the late King of Denmark silently appears and withdraws. The three agree that this visitation seems especially

    ominous in view of an impending war with Norway. The Ghost reenters, but disappears again when a cock crows.

    Horatio decides that they should tell Prince Hamlet of the appearance of his father‟s spirit.

Act I, scene ii:


Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is important.

    1. “Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother‟s death

    The memory be green, and that it us befitted

    To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom

    To be contracted in one brow of woe. . .

    Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen

    Th‟imperial jointress to this warlike state. . .

    In equal scale weighing delight and dole

    Taken to wife” [I.ii.1-14]

2.“How is it that the clouds still hang on you? [I. ii.66]

3.“I am too much in the sun” [I. ii. 67]

4. “Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,

    And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

    Do not forever with thy vailed lids

    Seek for thy noble father in the dust.

    Thou know‟st „tis common. All that lives must die,

    Passing through nature to eternity” [I. ii. 68-73].

    5. “But you must know your father lost a father,

    That father lost, lost his,. . .

    . . . But to persever

    In obstinate condolement is a course

    Of impious stubbornness. „Tis unmanly grief.

    It shows a will most incorrect to heaven” [I. ii. 89-95].

    6. “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,

    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,

    Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

    His canon „gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!

    How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

    Seem to me all the uses of this world!” [I.ii.129-4]

7. “Why, she would hang on him

    As if increase of appetite had grown

    By what it fed on, and yet within a month

    Let me not think on‟t; frailty, thy name is woman--!‟

    …Within a month…

    She married. [I. ii. 143-156]

8. “The funeral baked meats

    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables” [I. ii. 180-1].

9. “I shall not look upon his like again.” [I.ii.189]


10. “A countenance more in sorrow than in anger” [I. ii. 232].

SUMMARY: Act I, scene ii:

Act I, scene iii:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “For Hamlet, and the trifiling of his favor,

    Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,

    A violet in the youth of primy nature,

    Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,

    The perfume and suppliance of a minute,

    No more” [I. iii. 5-10].

2. “His greatness weigh‟d, his will is not his own…

     …for on his choice depends

     The safety and health of this whole state.” [I.iii.14-18]

3. “And these few precepts in thy memory

    Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue…

     Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

     Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel… Beware

     Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in

     Bear‟t, that the opposed may beware of thee.

     Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice…

     Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy…

     For the apparel oft proclaims the man…

     Neither a borrower nor a lender be…

     This above all, to thine own self be true,

    And it must follow as the night the day

    Thou canst not then be false to any man” [I. iii.58-80].

4. “Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,

    Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

    Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?” [I.iii.101-103].

5. “When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul

    Lends the tongue vows…

    … Ophelia,

    Do not believe his vows…

    I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,

    Have you…

    …give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet” [I.iii.116-134]

    SUMMARY: Act I, scene iii:


Act I, scene iv:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

    Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,

    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,

    Be thy intents wicked or charitable,

    Thou com‟st in such a questionable shape

    That I will speak to thee. I‟ll call thee Hamlet,

    King, father, royal Dane. O, answer me!” [I.iv.39-45]

2. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” [I.iv.89].

SUMMARY: Act I, scene iv:

Act I, scene v:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “But that I am forbid

    To tell the secrets of my prison house,

    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word

    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

    Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,

    Thy knotted and combined locks to part,

    And each particular hair to stand on end

    Like quills upon the fretful porpentine” [I. v.13-20].

2. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” [I.v.24].

3. “I, with wings as swift

    As meditation or the thoughts of love,

    May sweep to my revenge” [I.v.28-30]

4. “O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!” [I.v.47]

5. “Sent to my account

    With all my imperfections on my head…

     But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,

    Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive

    Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven” [I.v.78-86]

    6. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy


     But come;

     Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,

     How strange or odd so‟er I bear myself---

     As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

    To put an antic disposition on

     That you know aught of me” [I.v.166-80].

SUMMARY: Act I, scene v:

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: ACT II Act II, scene i:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “Before you visit him to make inquire

    Of his behavior” [II.i. 3-4].

2. “Your party in converse, him you would sound” [II.i.46]

3. “Lord Hamlet,. . .

    As if he had been loosed out of hell

    To speak of horrors—he comes before me” [II.i. 77-84]

4. “. . .as you did command

    I did repel his letters and denied

    His access to me” [II.i.108-110].

SUMMARY: Act II, scene i:

Act II, scene ii:


Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “More than his father‟s death, that thus hath put him

    So much from th‟ understanding of himself,

    I cannot dream of. I entreat you both. . .

    . . . so 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” [II.ii.8-18].

2. “And sure I am two men there are not living

    To whom he more adheres…

    Your visitation shall receive such thanks

    As fits a king‟s remembrance” [II.ii.20-26].

3. “I have found

    The very cause of Hamlet‟s lunacy” [II.ii.48-9].

4. “I doubt it is no other but the main,

    His father‟s death and our o‟erhasty marriage” [II.ii.56-7].

5. “Doubt thou the stars are fire;

    Doubt that the sun doth move‟

    Doubt truth to be a liar;

    But never doubt I love” [II.ii.116-119].

    6. “Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.

    This must not be” [II.ii.79-80].

    7. “To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand” [II.ii.178-9].

8. Words, words, words” [II. ii.191].

9. “Though this be madness, yet there is method in‟t” [II.ii.203-4].

10. “O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad

    dreams” [II.ii.251-3].


    11. “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties; in form and moving how express

    and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon

    of animals! And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not menor woman neither, though

    by your smiling you seem to say so” [II.ii.300-306].

    12. “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” [II.ii.365-6].

13. “O vengeance!

    Why, what an ass am I! This most brave,

    That I, the son of a dear father murdered,

    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,

    Must like a whore unpack my heart with words. . .

    About, my brain!...

    I‟ll have these players

    Play something like the murder of my father

    Before mine uncle. I‟ll observe his looks. . .

    . . . The spirit that I have seen

    May be a devil, and the devil hath power

    T‟ assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps

    Out of my weakness and my melancholy. . .

    Abuses me to damn me. . .

    . . . The play‟s the thing

    Wherein I‟ll catch the conscience of the king” [II.ii.566-91].

SUMMARY: Act II, scene ii:

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: ACT III Act III, scene i:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “To be, or not to be—that is the question:

    Whether „tis nobler in the mind to suffer

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

    And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep

    No moreand by a sleep to say we end

    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

    That flesh is heir to. „Tis a consummation

    Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep

    To sleep-perchance to dream: ay, there‟s the rub,

    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

    Must give us pause. . .

    But that the dread of something after death,

    The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

    No traveler returns, puzzles the will,

    And makes us rather bear those ills we have

    Than fly to others that we know not of?

    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,. . .” [III.i. 55-83].


2. “Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind” [III.i.103].

    3. You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you

    not” [III.i.117-119].

    4. “What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves all. Believe none of

    us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where‟s your father?” [III.i.127].

5. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go” [III.i.188].

SUMMARY: Act III, scene i:

Act III, scene ii:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is important.

    1. “For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to

    hold, as „twere, the mirror up to nature” [III.ii.18-20].

    2. O heavens! Die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there‟s hope a great man‟s memory may outlive

    his life half a year” [III.ii.124-126].

3. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” [III.ii.222].

4. “O good Horatio, I‟ll take the ghost‟s word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?” [III.ii.276-77]

5. . . . Now could I drink hot blood

    And do such bitter business as the day

    Would quake to look on. . .

    Let me be cruel, not unnatural;

    I will speak daggers to her, but use none” [III.ii.375-81].

SUMMARY: Act III, scene ii:


Act III, scene iii:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven;

    It hath the primal eldest curse upon‟t,

    A brother‟s murder” [III.iii.36-38].

2. “. . . and am I then revenged,

    To take him in the purging of his soul,

    When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?

    No” [III.iii.84-87].

SUMMARY: Act III, scene iii:

Act III, scene iv:

    Significant quotes: Please state who has said the following, who the quote is spoken to, and why the quote is


    1. “Hamlet, thou has thy father much offended” [III.iv.10].

2. “You are the Queen, your husband‟s brother‟s wife,

    Andwould it were not so—you are my mother” [III.iv.18-19].

3. O Hamlet, speak no more.

    Thou turn‟st mine eyes into my very soul” [III.iv.90-1].

4. “O step between her and her fighting soul!” [III.iv.114]

5. “O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain” [III.iv.157].

6. “. . . So again, good night.

    I must be cruel only to be kind.

    Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind” [III.iv.178-180].

7. “I essentially am not in madness,

    But mad in craft” [III.iv.189-90].


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