3settingShakespeare had to use language to establish setting in his plays, as all plays were performed during the day in open air theatres. Directors did not have the luxury of elaborate set changes, lighting, or special effects to establish time of day, season, location, etc., so the words were essential in conveying the setting for the audience.
4TASK: Carefully read the opening lines of the play (1 – 13) TASK: Carefully read the opening lines of the play (1 – 13). Discuss: what words does Shakespeare use in this opening section to reveal the setting of this scene?
5BERNARDO: ’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco. settingBERNARDO: ’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.FRANCISCO: For this relief much thanks. ’Tis bitter cold, / And I am sick at heart.Based on these details, what time of day is it?MidnightBased on these details, what time of year is it?Winter
6SETTING TASK: Continue Reading: Stop at line 20. DISCUSS: What is happening in the play?
7problemIn the opening scene, Shakespeare reveals that the guards are concerned about something.TASK: Look carefully at lines Discuss: what words does Shakespeare use in this opening section to reveal the problem facing the guards?
8Marcellus: What, has this thing appear’d again to-night? PROBLEMMarcellus: What, has this thing appear’d again to-night?DISCUSS: Note the use of the word “thing.” If Shakespeare is considered a “master of language” why would he use such a vague, non-descript word here?DISCUSS: Why is the word “appear’d” important in explaining the problem? What does it suggest is happening?
9The guards have seen a ghost the past two nights. PROBLEMMarcellus: Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy, / And will not let belief take hold of him / Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us. / Therefore I have entreated him along to watch the minutes of this night, / That if again this apparition come / He may approve our eyes and speak to it.fantasy: imaginationdreaded: regarded with great fear or apprehensionapparition: a ghostly figure; unusual or unexpected sightapprove: prove; attestWhat is the problem?The guards have seen a ghost the past two nights.
10What is Horatio’s reaction to the guards’ story about seeing a ghost? MARCELLUS: Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy, / And will not let belief take hold of himHORATIO: Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.BERNARDO: let us once again assail your ears, / That are so fortified against our storyWhat is Horatio’s reaction to the guards’ story about seeing a ghost?He believes they are imagining it, and he does not believe any ghost will appear.
11The ghostTASK: Look carefully at lines 40 – 51. Discuss: what words reveal who the ghost appears to be?
12THE GHOST “In the same figure, like the King that’s dead.” “Looks it not like the King?”“Together with that fair and warlike form / In which the majesty of buried Denmark / Did sometimes march?”Who does the ghost appear to be?The King of Denmark, who is dead.What does he appear to be wearing?Armor or Uniform: Ready for Battle.
13What does Horatio ask the ghost? TASK: Continue Reading. Stop at line 69.
14What does the ghost do? horatio Find the lines that indicate Horatio now believes the guards’ stories about seeing a ghost.Before my God, I might not this believe Without the sensible and true avouchOf mine own eyes.
15“This bodes some strange eruption to our state.” How does Horatio describe the ghost’s appearance? What is the ghost wearing?TASK: Continue Reading. Stop at line 111What question has Marcellus asked?What is Horatio’s response?Marcellus asks why the kingdom seems to be preparing for war. Horatio responds that the kingdom believes young Fortinbras may attack their kingdom to reclaim lands lost in a battle between his father Fortinbras and their deceased king, Hamlet.
16“This bodes some strange eruption to our state.” Horatio recounts events that preceded the death of Julius Caesar.TASK: Look carefully at Horatio’s lines 112 – Summarize the events that took place in Rome before Julius Caesar was killed.ghosts roamed the streetsshooting stars and eclipse of the moonblood mixed with the morning dewWhy does Horatio recount this story?Horatio believes that the appearance of the ghost and the strange events at Elsinore are prophetic. He sees the appearance of the ghost as a warning that the Kingdom is in danger. Just as these were warnings of the tragedy that befell Julius Caesar, these too are warnings for Denmark; they should pay attention to them.
17THE GHOST TASK: Continue Reading: Stop at end of Scene 1. DISCUSS: What happens with the ghost?What happens when the rooster crows?What does Horatio and Marcellus say about spirits, night, and daytime?
18Let us impart what we have seen tonight horatioWhat does Horatio suggest he and the guards should do about the ghost they have seen? Why?Let us impart what we have seen tonightUnto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.Horatio suggests they tell Hamlet about the ghost and what they have seen. He believes that the ghost will speak to Hamlet because it appears to be Hamlet’s father, the dead King.
20TASK: Scene two introduces two important characters, King Claudius and Queen Gertrude. Carefully examine The King’s lines 1 – 16. What important details are revealed?
21Though yet of Hamlet, our dear brother’s death claudiusThough yet of Hamlet, our dear brother’s deathThe memory be greenKing Hamlet is dead.King Hamlet was King Claudius’s brother.When Claudius says “us” and “we” he means himself – speaking in the “royal we.”The memory is “green” because his death was recent.
22claudius . . . and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdomTo be contracted in one brow of woe,Yet so far hath discretion fought with natureThat we with wisest sorrow think on himTogether with remembrance of ourselves.What is Claudius saying about his brother’s memory and the kingdom’s continued mourning of him?Although it was proper to mourn King Hamlet’s death throughout the kingdom, life still goes on. Claudius thinks he should mourn his brother, but he should also think about his own well being.
23What does Claudius reveal about his new marriage? Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,The imperial jointress to this warlike state,[have]Taken to wifeWhat does Claudius reveal about his new marriage?He married his sister-in-law. She was his brother’s wife.As King Hamlet’s widow, she is the “jointress” – meaning the one who holds the right of inheritance to her husband’s estate.
24NOTE: Why Claudius is crowned King instead of Prince Hamlet. In Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries it was traditionally an election rather than a firm rule of succession that determined the new king. This was not, of course, a democratic election. Only men of royal blood could be elected, and only a select group of nobles would vote. Claudius was certainly eligible to be elected king as the brother of the former king, and he strengthened his position by both marrying the queen, his former sister-in-law, and rushing things along before the son, Hamlet could return. Much of Claudius' opening speeches seem to be aimed at strengthening his position and reminding everyone that he was elected fair and square. Hamlet mentions or implies in the play that he thinks his uncle unfairly stole the election and the throne.
25antithesisAntithesis: Juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, but not always, in parallel structure).Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy,With an auspicious, and a dropping eye,With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,In equal scale weighing delight and doleNote the contrasting ideas in these lines. What emotions is Claudius trying to convey about the death of his brother and the marriage to his new queen?
26FORTINBRAS TASK: Continue Reading: Stop at line 41. DISCUSS: Summarize what is happening.Why does Claudius mention young Fortinbras?What does King Claudius command Cornelius and Voltemand to do?
27LAERTES TASK: Continue Reading: Stop at line 63. DISCUSS: What is Laertes asking permission to do?Who is Polonius? What does Polonius say?
28HAMLET TASK: Continue Reading: Look at line 64. Who is King Claudius addressing now? What does he call him?
29asideAside: An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience, but the other characters are not aware of what he or she says. It may be addressed to the audience expressly (in or out of character) or represent an unspoken thought. It is usually a brief comment. It occurs within the context of the play, and is a true statement of a character's thought; a character may be mistaken in an aside, but he may not be dishonest.
30A little more than kin, and less than kind! Hamlet’s first wordsNote: The first time we hear from Hamlet is through an aside. Look at the context of these words. What is happening in the play at the time Hamlet first speaks? Who addresses him? What does this aside reveal about Hamlet’s inner thoughts and emotions?A little more than kin, and less than kind!Hamlet is not happy about the “closeness” of his new family. He believes that his uncle, who has now become his step-father has become too close, creating too many family ties for his liking. The fact that the first words he speaks reveal his inner thoughts indicate that this new relationship weighs heavily on him.
31punPun: a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.
32Sun: In the spotlight , attention on him, no way to mourn. HamletNote: The next line of Hamlet’s is a pun. What does he mean?KING: How is it that the clouds still hang on you?HAMLET: Not so, my lord: I am too much i’ the sun.Sun: In the spotlight , attention on him, no way to mourn.Sun: “Son” – Now he has two fathers.
33What are your thoughts about Gertrude’s words to her son? TASK: Gertrude’s first lines in the play are to her son, Hamlet. Look at her lines 68 – 73, what does she say to him?Good Hamlet, cast they nighted color off,And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.Do not for ever with thy vailed lidsSeek for thy noble father in the dust.Thou knows’t ’tis common. All that lives must die,Passing through nature to eternity.Get out of your black clothes and stop mourning.Be friendly to the King.You can’t spend your whole life being sad about your dad. People die. It happens all the time.What are your thoughts about Gertrude’s words to her son?
34Hamlet: Ay, madam, it is common. Hamlet’s melancholyHamlet: Ay, madam, it is common.Gertrude: If it be, Why seems it so particular with thee?TASK: Look carefully at how Hamlet responds to his mother’s question. Read lines 76 – 86. Highlight words and phrases that indicate Hamlet’s state of mind and his display of grief over his father’s death.
35Hamlet’s melancholy “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.” 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,Nor customary suits of solemn black,Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,Nor the dejected havior of the visage,Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,”For they are actions that a man might play.But I have that within which passeth show,These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
36Hamlet’s melancholyNo Fear Shakespeare translation: “Seems,” mother? No, it is. I don’t know what you mean by “seems.” Neither my black clothes, my dear mother, nor my heavy sighs, nor my weeping, nor my downcast eyes, nor any other display of grief can show what I really feel. It’s true that all these things “seem” like grief, since a person could use them to fake grief if he wanted to. But I’ve got more real grief inside me than you could ever see on the surface. These clothes are just a hint of it.Based on what you have heard from Hamlet to this point, what are your thoughts about him?
37Claudius to hamletTASK: Carefully read the King’s lines (87– 117). Highlight words and phrases that indicate the King’s opinion of Hamlet’s behavior and his continued mourning. What does he tell him?Claudius commends Hamlet for being a good son who has mourned his father. However, he tells him to remember that his father lost a father, and that father lost a father, etc., and every time, each son has had to mourn his father for a certain period. But overdoing it is just stubborn. It’s not manly. It’s not what God wants, and it betrays a vulnerable heart and an ignorant and weak mind. Since we know that everyone must die sooner or later, why should we take it to heart? He tells Hamlet that he is committing a crime against heaven, against the dead, and against nature by the continued mourning. He also tells him it is irrational since the truth is that all fathers must die. He tells him to give up his useless mourning and start thinking of Claudius as his new father.
38What does Gertrude ask Hamlet to do? GERTRUDES’ REQUESTTASK: Continue Reading. Lines 118 – 128.What does Gertrude ask Hamlet to do?What is his response?
39soliloquySoliloquy: A long speech in which a character who is usually alone on stage expresses his or her private thoughts or feeelings.
40O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, HAMLET’S soliloquy #1O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!TASK: Read Lines 129 – 158
41ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYO that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world!What does Hamlet wish for?Why does he wish this?Why doesn’t he simply kill himself?
42What is an “unweeded garden”? What does this passage imply about life? ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYFie on't! O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely.What is an “unweeded garden”?What does this passage imply about life?What does this passage imply about King Claudius?
43ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYThat it should come to this! But two months dead! — nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother, That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember?How long has Hamlet’s father been dead?What does he call his father? What does that mean?What does he call his uncle? What does that mean?How does he remember his father treating his mother?
44ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYWhy, 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! —How does Hamlet remember his mother treating his father?What time frame does he mention in this part of the passage?How is that different from what he just said a moment ago about how long it has been since his father died?What does that tell you about how he feels about his mother’s actions?What does he mean when he says “Frailty, thy name is woman!”
45ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYA little month; or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my poor father's body Like Niobe, all tears; — why she, even she, — O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn'd longer, — married with mine uncle,What is the tone in this passage? Give evidence in support.What is revealed in this passage about Hamlet’s attitude towards his mother’s remarriage?
46ANALYIS OF SOLILOQUYMy father's brother; but no more like my father Than I to Hercules: within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married: — O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot come to good;How does Hamlet feel about his uncle as his mother’s choice for a new husband?What type of relationship does he call it?Is he angry or sad in this soliloquy? How do you know?What does he seem to be most upset about, his father’s death or his mother’s remarriage? How do you know?
47What does Hamlet mean in this passage? HORATIO & HAMLETTASK: Continue Reading. Lines 159 – 184Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral baked meatsDid coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.What does Hamlet mean in this passage?What does he seem to be upset about?Is this an example of hyperbole? Explain.
48SOME FOUL PLAY What does Horatio tell Hamlet? TASK: Continue Reading. Lines 185 – 254What does Horatio tell Hamlet?What does Hamlet plan to do?My father’s spirit – in arms? All is not well.I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.Why does Hamlet believe there is “foul play?”Speculate: Why do you think the ghost has appeared?
50Laertes & opheliaAct I Scene 3.In this scene, we are introduced to Ophelia. She is Polonius’s daughter, Laertes’s sister, and Hamlet’s girlfriend. As scene three opens, Laertes is making preparations to return to school in France. Before he leaves, he gives Ophelia brotherly advice about her relationship with Hamlet.
51Laertes & opheliaTASK: Read Lines 1 – 53. Pay attention to the advice Laertes gives Ophelia. What is he telling his sister?
52Laertes & PoloniusAct I Scene 3. Polonius, father of Laertes and Ophelia, arrives on scene. He then proceeds to give his son a lot of advice about how he should behave at college.
53Laertes & PoloniusTASK: Read Lines 55 – 87. Pay attention to the advice Polonius gives Laertes. What does he tell him?
54FATHERLY ADVICEGive thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.Don’t say what you are thinking, and don’t be too quick to act on what you think.
55FATHERLY ADVICEThose friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade.Be friendly to people, but don’t overdo it. Once you have tested out your friends and found them trustworthy, hold onto them. But don’t waste your time with every person you meet!
56FATHERLY ADVICEBeware Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.Don’t be too quick to start a fight, but once you are in one, hold your own.
57FATHERLY ADVICEGive every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.Listen to many people, but talk to few. Hear everyone’s opinion, but reserve your judgment. Be selective.
58FATHERLY ADVICECostly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; For the apparel oft proclaims the man, And they in France of the best rank and station Are of a most select and generous chief in that.Spend all you can afford on clothes, but make sure they are quality, not flashy, since clothes make the man – which is doubly true in France.
59FATHERLY ADVICENeither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.Don’t borrow money and don’t lend it, since when you lend to a friend, you often lose the friendship as well as the money, and borrowing turns a person into a spendthrift.
60FATHERLY ADVICEThis above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.And, above all, be true to yourself. Then you won’t be false to anybody else.
61Polonius & OPHELIAAct I Scene 3. After Laertes leaves, Polonius discuss Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet.TASK: Read Lines 88 – 114What does Ophelia tell her father about her relationship with Hamlet?How does Polonius respond to her?
62Polonius & OPHELIA TASK: Read Lines 115 – 136 Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter, Giving more light than heat, extinct in both, Even in their promise, as it is a-making, You must not take for fire.These vows are just traps for stupid birds. I know when a man is on fire, he’ll swear anything. But when a heart’s on fire, it gives out more light than heat, and the fire will be out even before he’s done making his promises. Don’t mistake that for true love.
63Polonius & OPHELIAFrom this time Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence; Set your entreatments at a higher rate Than a command to parley.From now on, spend a little less time with him and talk to him less. Make yourself a precious commodity.
64Polonius & OPHELIAFor Lord Hamlet, Believe so much in him, that he is young And with a larger tether may he walk Than may be given youRemember that Lord Hamlet is young, and he has more freedom to fool around than you do
65Polonius & OPHELIAin few, Ophelia, Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers, Not of that dye which their investments show, But mere implorators of unholy suits, Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds, The better to beguile.In short, Ophelia, don’t believe his love vows, since they’re like flashy pimps who wear nice clothes to lead a woman into filthy acts.
66Polonius & OPHELIAThis is for all: I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, Have you so slander any moment leisure, As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.To put it plainly, from now on, you are not to spend any time with Hamlet. You are not to talk to him at all. Do as I say.
68The kingAct I Scene 4. As this scene opens, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are outside on the castle platform looking for signs of the ghost. They hear trumpets and shots sounding from within the castle. Horatio asks Hamlet what is going on and Hamlet tells him.TASK: Read Lines 1 – 38 and discuss what is happening.
69The ghostAct I Scene 4. Suddenly, the ghost appears. Hamlet immediately talks to it, but it doesn’t answer. The ghost beckons Hamlet to follow it, but Horatio fears for Hamlet’s well being if he does.TASK: Read Lines 39 – 92 (end of scene). What happens?
71The ghostAct I Scene 5.As this scene opens, Hamlet and the Ghost are alone. Hamlet tells the ghost to speak to him, and the ghost does. He explains who he is.
72The ghost TASK: Read Lines 1 – 25. Who is the ghost? What does he tell Hamlet about his “prison house”?What does he ask Hamlet to do?
73MURDER MOST FOUL TASK: Read Lines 26 – 41. Who killed Hamlet’s father? Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swiftAs meditation or the thoughts of love,May sweep to my revenge.What does Hamlet plan to do after the ghost tells him who murdered him?
74MURDER MOST FOUL TASK: Look closely at lines 34 – 40 again. How does the kingdom believe King Hamlet died?Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me
75MURDER MOST FOUL TASK: Look closely at lines 34 – 40 again. How does the ghost describe the person who did kill him?The serpent that did sting thy father’s lifeNow wears his crownExplain the allusion to the “serpent” – what connection is the ghost making with his murderer?
76MURDER MOST FOUL TASK: Look closely at lines 34 – 40 again. What does Hamlet say when he hears that the murderer is his uncle, his father’s brother, and the new king?O my prophetic soul!My uncle?Prophetic: Accurately describing or predicting what will happen in the futureWhat does Hamlet reveal here?
77The loss of his queen TASK: Read lines 41 – 57. What does the ghost reveal about his relationship with his Queen, Gertrude, and his thoughts about his brother and their new marriage?Whom is the ghost most angry with?How do you know? Find evidence from these lines to support your answer.
78Murder most foul TASK: Read lines 58 – 80. Why must the ghost get on with telling his story?How did he die?Why is it so horrible that he died while sleeping?
79The ghost’s request TASK: Read lines 81 – 91. What does the ghost want Hamlet to do?What does he tell him to do about his mother?Why does the ghost have to leave?What is the ghost’s final request to Hamlet?
80Hamlet’s ANGUISH & ANGER TASK: Read lines 92 – 112.What does Hamlet say to himself about “remembering” his father?How does he plan to remember him? What is he going to do?What does Hamlet call his mother?What does Hamlet call his uncle, the King?
81Hamlet’s ANGUISH & ANGER TASK: Read lines 93 – 190 (End of Scene).What happens when Horatio and Marcellus find Hamlet?What does Hamlet tell them about what the ghost said?What does Hamlet ask Horatio and Marcellus to swear?What does Hamlet tell Horatio about how he might behave in the coming days? Why does he do this?
82Hamlet’s “antic disposition” Act I Scene 5. At the end of Act I, the ghost can be heard saying “Swear!” several times. However, there is no indication by the lines spoken that Horatio and Marcellus hear the ghost. However, Hamlet does keep responding to it.Although Horatio does say “O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!” it is not made clear whether he is responding to the ghost saying “swear” or to Hamlet’s strange behavior.In some productions, this scene is played as if all on stage can hear the ghost, in others, only Hamlet hears the ghost. Speculate: How would the two different interpretations of this scene affect the play?