2 Act III: scene i Claudius admits guilt Theme: Appearance vs. Reality Hamlet in soliloquy #3 contemplates suicide, and mortalityHamlet explains how his conscience makes him a cowardInterview with Ophelia (this is the first time they have appeared together on stage)She returns his “remembrances” and he denies ever giving them to her.Hamlet speaks of honesty and truth and beauty. Beauty will corrupt and chastise more readily than chastity will purify beauty.
3 Act III: scene iOphelia: “My lord, I have remembrances of yours/ That I have longed long to redeliver. / I pray you now receive them.”Hamlet: “No, not I. I never gave you aught.”Ophelia: “My honored lord, you know right well you did,/ And with them words of so sweet breath composed/ As made the things more rich. Their perfume / lost, / Take these again, for to the noble mind/ Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. / There, my lord.”Hamlet: “Ha, ha, are you honest?/…/ Are you fair?/…/… if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.”Ophelia: “Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?”Hamlet: “Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner /transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than /the force of honesty can translate beauty into his /likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now / the time gives it proof. I did love you once.” ( )
4 Act III: scene iHamlet: “Get thee to a nunnery. Why woulst thou be/ a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest/ but yet I could accuse me of such things that it/ were better my mother had not born me: I am/ very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more / offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them / in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act/ them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling/ between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves/ all believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. / Where’s your father?”Ophelia: “At home, my lord.”Hamlet: “Let the doors se shut upon him that he may / play the fool nowhere but in’s own house. Farewell.”Ophelia: “ O, help him, you sweet heavens!”Hamlet: “If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague/ for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as/ snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to al/ nunnery, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry,/ marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what/ monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and / quickly too. Farewell… God hath given you one face, and you/ make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp; you nickname God’s creatures and make/ your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no/ more on’t. It hath made me mad. I say we will have/ no more marriage. Those that are married already, / all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are./ To a nunnery, go.”
5 Act III: scene i Claudius vs. Polonius Claudius: Not like madness- “Madness is great ones must not unwatch’d go”.Therefore he sends Hamlet to EnglandPolonius:“It shall do well. But yet do I believe/ The origin and commencement of his grief / Sprung from neglected love.Neglected love from Ophelia made him crazy.
6 Act III: scene ii Play scene: Reenactment of the Murder of King Hamlet Hamlet uses the play within the play to trap Claudius, and it works exceptionally well.Does this play also say certain things about human nature, human will, and man’s fate that are applicable to the larger play, Hamlet?
7 Act III: scene iiHamlet is the Renaissance Man: he pays attention to detail in theatre by keeping it authentic.Hamlet: “Be not too tame neither, but let your own/ discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the/ word, the word to the action, with this special/ observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of/ nature. For anything so o’erdone 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, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her/ own image, and the very age and body of the time/ his form and pressure.”
8 Act III: scene iiBy the time the play-within a play rolls around, Hamlet is seemingly much more in control of himself, as evidenced by his effortless manipulations of Rosencratz and Guildenstern and his frank conversation with Horatio. The play, in addition to providing Hamlet with the opportunity to trap the king into a sign of guilt, also gives Shakespeare the opportunity to flesh out the time of pretense and reality through the motif of theatrical drama, one of his favorite metaphors. One perspective is that Hamlet’s make-believe madness with Ophelia reveals his true feelings, just as the acting of the players expose the true guilt of Clauius. Disguises and deflections reveal as much as they conceal, and in this case, they reveal something about both Hamlet and Claudius.It is interesting that here Hamlet and Claudius each devises a trap with which to catch his enemy’s secret; Claudius spies on Hamlet to discover the true nature of his madness, and Hamlet attempts to “catch the conscience of the king” in the theater.
9 Act III: scene iiWhat qualities in Hamlet’s character are brought out in this scene?What is the dramatic importance of the play within a playTo what extent does it fulfill Hamlet’s purpose?
10 Act III: scene iiiHow does Claudius’ prayer scene complicate his character?King: “O my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; / It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t/ A brother’s murder. Pray can I not, / Though inclination be as sharp as will./ My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,/ And, like a man to double business bound,/ I stand in pause where I shall first begin/ And both neglect. What if this cursed hand/ Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood?/ Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens/ To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy/ But to confront the visage of offense?/ And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,/ To be forestalled ere we come to fall,/ Or pardoned being down? Then I’ll look up./ My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer/ Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?/ That cannot be, since I am still possessed/ Of those effects for which I did the murder:/ My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen./ May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?/ In the corrupted currents of this world,/ Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,/And oft ‘tis seen the wicked prize itself/ Buys out the law. But ‘tis not so above: There is not shuffling; there the action lies/ In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,/ Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,/ To give in evidence. What then? What rests?/ Try what repentance can. What can it not?/ Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?/ O wretched state! O bosom black as death!/ O limed soul, that, struggling to be free, / Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay./ Bow stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel/ Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.” [He kneels]
11 Act III: scene iii Claudius is at prayer He is guilty of fratricide, ambition and is conflicted between remorse and repentance or continuing to pursue his goals.“liked soul, that struggling to be free/ Art more engaged”“what’s in a prayer but this twofold force,/Or pardoned being down”“bow suborn knees”Consider carefully the reason why Claudius cannot truly pray for forgiveness. Does this identify the force in life that Caludius represents? If so, does this illuminate other actions and statements of the King? Does it make understandable the things Hamlet says about him?Hamlet procrastinates…Debate pro or con whether Hamlet should have killed the king at prayerExplain how Shakespeare creates sympathy for Claudius in this scene.
12 Act III: scene iiiElsewhere in the Castle, King Claudius speaks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Still shaken by the play and now considering Hamlet’s madness to be dangerous, Claudius asks the pair to escort Hamlet on a voyage to England, and to depart immediately. They agree, and leave to ready themselves. Polonius enters, and reminds the king of his plan to hide in Gertrude’s room and observe Hamlet’s confrontation with her. He promises to tell Claudius all that he learns. When Polonius leaves, the king is alone, and he immediately bewails his guilt and grief over his sin. A brother’s murder, he says, is the oldest sin, and “hath the eldest curse upon’t.” He longs to ask for forgiveness, but says that he is unprepared to give up that which he gained by c committing the murder- namely, the crown and queen. He falls to his knees and begins to pray.Hamlet slips quietly into the room, and steels himself to kill the unseeing Claudius. Suddenly he realizes that if he kills the king while he is praying, he will send the king’s soul to heaven- which is hardly an adequate revenge, especially since Claudius, by killing Hamlet’s father before h had time to make his last confession, ensured that his brother would not go to heaven.
13 Act III: scene ivWhat does the murder of Polonius reveal about Hamlet?What is the substance of Hamlet’s accusations against his mother?What reason does the Queen have for thinking Hamlet is mad?What reason does the Queen have for thinking Hamlet is sane?
14 Act III: scene iv Closet Scene: In Gertrude’s chamber, Polonius urges the queen to be harsh with Hamlet when he arrives, taking him to task for his recent behaviour. Gertrude agrees, and Polonius hides behind an arras, or tapestry, to watch. Hamlet storms into the room and asks his mother why she has sent for him. She says that he has offended his father, meaning his stepfather, Claudius; he interrupts her, and says that she has offended his father, meaning the dead King Hamlet. Hamlet accosts her with an almost violent intensity, and declares his intention to make her fully aware of the profundity of her sin. Fearing for her life, Gertrude calls for help; from behind the arras, Polonius cries out. Crying “How now! A rat?”, Hamlet draws his sword and stabs it through the tapestry, killing the unseen Polonius.Hamlet is indeed capable of murder as he kills Polonius.
15 Act III: scene ivOphelia is the most pitiful figure in the play, and her madness and death are the direct results of the conflict between those “might opposites”, Claudius and Hamlet. What point do you think Shakespeare is making here about the position of innocence and dutifulness in this world?Describe the ways in which Laertes’ situation when he returns in Act IV parallels Hamlet’s in Act I.Do the parallel situations and Laertes’ response to his situation in any way complicate the frequent argument that Hamlet should not have delayed a moment in seeking his revenge?
16 Act III: scene ivImagery: Disease - “Here is your husband; like a mildew’d ear” (74)Hamlet sees and hears the ghost, but Gertrude does NOT - Hamlet’s sanity is questioned.(120)Hamlet advises his mother to “confess” herself to heaven; “repent what’s past, avoid what is to come, / And do not spread to compost on the weeds,/ To make them ranker” ( )Hamlet considers Polonius’ blood as a punishment; he is heave’s scourge and minister” ( )Hamlet is aware that he is being sent for and escorted to England.
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