major characters except horatio W r i t i n g
ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINES FOR ANSWERING QUESTIONS
When answering questions, students are to write in complete sentences, restate or rephrase the question as part of their answer, and answer all that is being asked. Each assigned question is worth two points with an additional two points to cover overall grammar, punctuation, and mechanics on the paper. Students lose one point for a wrong answer, not answering the question(s) in full, or for having a fragment, comma splice, or run-on.
For this assignment, specifically, students are asked to answer ANY SIX of the following twenty-one questions on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by identifying each answer with both the alphabetical and numerical designation. You are not required to follow MLA format to answer questions.
A1. Act I. How do you learn in the first scene that something is wrong in Denmark?
A2. In scene two, how does Claudius appear? Does he seem rational? Good? A good administrator? A competent ruler? A loving husband and uncle?
A3. What does Hamlet reveal about his own mental and psychological state in his first soliloquy?
A4. Why do both Laertes and Polonius caution Ophelia about Hamlet’s interest in her?
A5. What does the Ghost tell Hamlet to do and not to do? Why does Hamlet believe he needs independent proof about the validity of the Ghost?
A6. Act II. Who is Polonius? What is his analysis of Hamlet’s “madness”? What do his speeches show us about him?
A7. Describe Hamlet’s self-accusation in the “O What a Rogue” soliloquy (I. ii. 524-80). To what degree is his accusation justified?
A8. Act III. How do you react to Hamlet’s treatment of Ophelia in Act III, scene I? What evidence suggests that he knows he is being watched by Claudius and Polonius?
A9. What does Hamlet think of Claudius’s reaction to The Murder of Gonzago? Why does Claudius not react to the dumb show before the play-within-a-play?
A10. Why does Hamlet not kill Claudius when the King is at prayer?
A11. Describe Hamlet’s treatment of Gertrude during their confrontation in her private room. Is Hamlet justified in his treatment? Why does the Ghost appear here?
A12. Act IV. How are Laertes’s wishes for revenge like Hamlet’s wishes for revenge? How are they like Fortinbras’s wishes for revenge?
A13. How does Claudius plan to use Laertes’s desire for vengeance against Hamlet? To what extent does Laertes allow himself to be used?
A14. Act V. Comic relief is a humorous episode designed to ease tension. How does the scene of the gravediggers qualify as comic relief? Why is comic relief appropriate at this point of the play? How does the scene broaden the play’s themes?
A15. Describe the lessons that Hamlet tells Horatio he has learned about life. How does this understanding show that Hamlet has changed? Why is it ironic?
A16. How is Gertrude killed? Hamlet? Laertes? Claudius? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Why does Hamlet insist that Horatio not commit suicide?
B1. Describe Claudius. Is he purely evil, or is he merely a flawed human being? Could the play also be called The Tragedy of Claudius, King of Denmark?
B2. Characterize Horatio. Why does Hamlet trust and admire him? How is he different from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Are these characters round or flat? How can one justify Hamlet’s arrangement for the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
B3. Hamlet is full of conflicts that oppose people to other people, to society, and to themselves. List all the conflicts you can find in the play. Decide which of these is the central conflict, and explain your choice.
B4. What is the crisis of Hamlet? When does it occur? Whom does it affect? What is the catastrophe? What is the resolution?
B5. In Act IV, Claudius notes that “sorrows come … in battalions.” By the end of the play, these sorrows include the deaths of all the major characters except Horatio. To what degree can Claudius be held responsible for all the sorrows of the play? Which sorrows may be particularly traced to Hamlet?