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Date Created: 07/10/14
Study Guide Hamlet Prince of Denmark Important Characters Hamlet 0 The Prince of Denmark 0 the title character 0 protagonist 0 Son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet 0 Nephew of the present king Claudius Claudius o The King of Denmark 0 Hamlet s uncle o the play s antagonist Gertrude o The Queen of Denmark 0 Hamlet s mother 0 recently married to Claudius Polonius o The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius s court 0 Father of Laertes and Ophelia Horatio o Hamlet s close friend Ophelia o Polonius s daughter 0 Hamlets love interest Laertes o Polonius s son 0 Ophelia s brother Plot Summary Act 1 0 King Hamlet has recently died and the kingdom is preparing for a possible War with King Fortinbras of Norway King Claudius Hamlets uncle has married Queen Gertrude Hamlets mom Within a month of his Hamlets father s death 0 Hamlet sees the ghost of his father who tells him to avenge his death 0 Polonius father of Ophelia and Laertes Wams Ophelia not to fall in love with Hamlet 0 Ophelia comes to her father terrified because when Hamlet saw her last he was disheveled and seemed mad Polonius believes it is because of her rejection of him and tells Claudius o Claudius summons Rosencrantz and Guildenstem to find out Hamlets sudden change in behavior 0 Hamlets famous speech what a piece of work is a man and plans to use a play to test if King Claudius murdered his father 0 Act 3 o Ophelia confronts Hamlet and he becomes incredibly hostile realizing he is being watched get thee to a nunnery 0 King Claudius plans to send Hamlet to England because he claims he is dangerous and Polonius agrees to overhear Hamlets conversation with Queen Gertrude after the play 0 The play is performed and the king reacts badly convincing Hamlet he did murder his father 0 King Claudius has a soliloquy admitting his guilt o Gertrude attempts to scold Hamlet but Hamlet stabs Polonius thinking it was the King listening to their conversation 0 Act 4 0 King Claudius sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out where Polonius s body is and Hamlet refuses to tell them and they are sent to England where Claudius is planning to have him killed 0 Fortinbras leads an army into Poland simply for honor making Hamlet question his honor since he has failed to avenge his father s death 0 Ophelia has gone mad from grief due to the death of Polonius while her brother Laertes demands justice 0 Ophelia kills herself by drowning o Claudius and Laertes plot to kill Hamlet at a fencing match if he returns 0 Act 5 o Hamlet and his friend Horatio see a gravedigger and find the skull of the jester Yorrick this is the famous scene where Hamlet realizes man s inability to control fate and death o Hamlet realizes the funeral in the graveyard is Ophelia s and leaps into the grave proclaiming his love for her fighting Laertes saying he loved her more than him 0 Hamlet explains to Horatio that he had Rosencrantz and Guildenstern put to death in England instead of him 0 Hamlet arrives at the castle to fence Laertes and his mother drinks a poisoned cup meant for him and dies 0 Hamlet is stabbed with the poisoned sword but so is Laertes 0 While Hamlet is dying he kills Claudius with the poisoned sword o Fortinbras arrives with only Horatio alive to tell the story of what happened Main Ideas 0 Mortality 0 Throughout the play Hamlet questions the meaning of life and what happens at the end of it 0 He decides he is no longer afraid of dying but is afraid of the afterlife which stops him from preventing suicide One of the main things touched on in his soliloquys is the unknown that comes after death 0 Hamlet realizes that everyone dies therefore eliminating the differences between people This is apparent during the famous graveyard scene where he sees Yorricks skull a jester who he had cared about This was when he realized no matter who it is in the end when we die we all will become bones 0 Insanity 0 Once Hamlet sees his father s ghost he plans to feign madness to try and solve his father s murder 0 As the play continues he seems to have moments where he is clearly faking it like when he is messing with Polonius and saying nonsense words and moments when it seems real like when he is seriously wondering about death and the afterlife to be or not to be what a piece of work is a man Famous Lines and Analysis 0 Something s rotten in the state of Denmark 0 This line is spoken after Hamlet goes after the ghost of his father On the surface it simply means that the ghost s appearance is ominous and could mean something bad for Denmark The ghost is only there because Claudius killed King Hamlet creating the corruption of the kingdom and therefore creating the rottenness in Denmark 0 I have of late but wherefore I know not lost all my mirth forgone all custom of exercises and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory this most excellent canopy the air look you this brave 0 erhangz39ng rmament this majestical roof etted with golden re why it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours What a piece of work is man How noble in reason How in nite 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 o This is the famous what a piece of work is a man soliloquy This is an example that supports the main idea of mortality because Hamlet builds up how amazing the world and humans are only to say that it means nothing because everyone dies It also supports the main idea of insanity because he sees nothing of this big great world 0 is the p p j the against a sea 01 troubles Cj slings arlol arrows 3 forttme z P take arms erlol them To olie to sleep more and lay a sleep say we erlol the heartaehe arid the tliottsarlol rlattiral slioeks that flesh is heir to p p p 0 sleep sleep Y s itquot l the lll that sleep death wliat elreams may come Wlierl we have slmffleel oh tfllS is 0 0 that makes w i so life J Q 9 A 3 Wm J7 W V7 mortal r A For who would bear the whips and scorns of time the oppressor is wrong the proud man s contumely The pangs ofdespis a love the law is delay The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin who would these fardels bear To grunt and sweat under a weary life But that the dread of something after death The undiscover a country from whose bourn no traveller returns puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have than y to others that we know not of Thus conscience does make cowards of us all And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicdiea 0 er with the pale cast of thought And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action o The most famous soliloquy from this play Hamlet questions suicide and death supporting the main idea of mortality He wonders whether it is nobler for him to try and survive through the troubles or reality or to oppose them through suicide which he views to be as easy as sleep But he then goes into what happens when one goes to sleep and fears what he doesn t know about the afterlife This soliloquy also can support the main idea of insanity because this is one of the moments where it is difficult for readers to tell whether Hamlets insanity has drifted from being put on to being real
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