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Hamlet Acts 4 and 5

by: Hannah Fretheim

Hamlet Acts 4 and 5 ENG 2301

Marketplace > Baylor University > ENG 2301 > Hamlet Acts 4 and 5
Hannah Fretheim
Baylor University
GPA 3.8

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Acts 4 and 5 of Hamlet, includes summaries and important questions.
British Literature
Rachel Lee Webster
Class Notes
Shakespeare, Hamlet, english
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Fretheim on Sunday September 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 2301 at Baylor University taught by Rachel Lee Webster in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views.

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Date Created: 09/18/16
Hamlet Act 4 and 5 Act 4 Scene i- Claudius hears about Polonius and realizes that Hamlet is a threat to him. He once again sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet. Scene ii- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find Hamlet, who is acting even crazier than before. He refuses to tell them where he has hidden Polonius’ body and insults them for sucking up to the King. Scene iii- Claudius wants to get rid of Hamlet but is afraid because Hamlet is popular among the people. Hamlet comes and eventually gives Claudius a hint as to where Polonius’ body is. Claudius sends Hamlet off to England and secretly writes a letter to the King of England with instructions to kill Hamlet. Scene iv- Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are on their way to England. Meanwhile, Fortinbras is leading his troops to invade Poland rather than Denmark. Hamlet sees all these men willing to die for a tiny piece of land and once again feels guilty that he has not been more assertive with his revenge. Scene v- Gertrude is told that Ophelia has gone mad after the death of her father. Ophelia enters, singing and speaking in ways that confirm their fears of her madness. People have begun to talk and spread rumors about Polonius’ death and Claudius is worried that he will be blamed. Laertes comes after Claudius, thinking he is responsible for his father’s death. He becomes even more upset when he finds out about Ophelia’s madness. Claudius tries to prove his innocence by telling Laertes to talk to his most trusted advisers. Scene vi- Horatio gets a letter from Hamlet saying that he is no longer headed to England. Horatio is also told to have letters delivered from Hamlet to the King. Scene vii- Claudius tells Laertes that Hamlet is the one who killed Polonius. Claudius receives his letter from Hamlet which reveals that Hamlet is returning to Denmark. Claudius then convinces Laertes to go along with his plan for getting revenge against Hamlet. They decide to arrange a duel between Laertes and Hamlet in which Laertes’ sword has been dipped in poison. Claudius also plans to have a poisoned drink to give Hamlet if the original plan fails. It is then revealed that Ophelia has drowned, presumably as the result of suicide. - What exactly happened to Ophelia? o She appears to have killed herself out of madness, but the circumstances of her death were not made entirely clear. Act 5 Scene i- Two gravediggers are talking about whether or not Ophelia deserves a Christian burial after killing herself. Hamlet and Horatio arrive and hear the gravedigger singing. Hamlet is upset by the singing as well as by all the bones he sees. These include the skull of Yorick, a court jester whom he knew. Hamlet and Horatio watch as the King, the Queen and Laertes enter with a coffin. It is revealed that the grave is for Ophelia and Laertes is upset that she cannot be given the full funeral rites due to her suicide. Laertes jumps into the grave to say goodbye to Ophelia and Hamlet comes out of hiding. Hamlet also jumps into the grave, and starts fighting with Laertes about who loved Ophelia more. Hamlet is pulled away and Claudius reminds Laertes not to forget about their plan. - Skull of Yorick o Hamlet holds the skull of someone he knew and played with which makes him upset because he sees that you become nothing when you are dead. o He talks about Alexander the Great to say that death is final no matter how great you were on earth. o Hamlet seems to be missing a sense of faith in life after death. o This probably makes him more upset about the funeral of Ophelia. Scene ii- Hamlet reveals to Horatio that he escaped by finding the letter from the King which ordered his death and changing it to order the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. A landowner named Osric tells Hamlet that the King has placed a wager on a duel between him and Laertes. Hamlet agrees to the duel, even though he has a bad feeling about it. He tells Horatio that everything will work out as it is destined to. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes and blames madness for his wrongdoings. They begin to duel and the King puts the poison in the cup intended for Hamlet. Gertrude takes a drink of the cup not knowing that it was poisoned. Laertes hits Hamlet with the poisoned sword. After a scuffle, Hamlet ends up with Laertes’ sword and wounds him with it. Gertrude dies and Hamlet realizes the King’s plan. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and then forces him to drink from the poisoned cup. Laertes and Hamlet make peace with each other and Laertes dies. As he is also dying, Hamlet tells Horatio to live and tell people the truth about what happened. Fortinbras enters with the English ambassador and Horatio tells them what took place and that Hamlet desired for Fortinbras (who was already a possible heir) to be the next King of Denmark. - At this point, Hamlet is finally committed to what he needs to do (p. 141). - The character of Osric: o He uses unnecessarily fancy language and takes almost 3 pages just to tell Hamlet about the duel. o He is noble by money he gained, not by birth. Shakespeare is pointing out his need to be fancy in order to prove he belongs among the noble. o When Osric takes his hat off and on, he is doing whatever Hamlet says. He is trying to impress him and fit in with the nobility. o Shakespeare may be pointing out that there is a type of nobility that you cannot buy. Important Questions: Did Hamlet really love Ophelia? - Scene at her grave- Hamlet declares his love for her but also disrespects her grave. - He insulted her many times while he was “mad”. Would he have feigned madness differently if he really loved her? Why does Hamlet want Fortinbras to be King? - “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” maybe an outside leader would lead to a new era and purge all the evil. - In some ways, the great tragedy was the only way the play could end because all these royal people in Denmark were “rotten” and things needed to start over. - Fortinbras is also different from Hamlet and may be seen as what Hamlet “could have been.” How is Fortinbras different form Hamlet? - Fortinbras is more of an action-taker, but also listens to his uncle when he is told not to invade Denmark. - Fortinbras makes clear decisions and they are usually better ones than what Hamlet made. Why is Hamlet seen as a hero and not a villain? - Avenging his father would probably have been seen as a good thing to Shakespeare’s audience. - Hamlet is a witty and intelligent character who sees through everyone. - Hamlet wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t always know what it is. Hamlet’s tragic flaw? - Never satisfied? Complexity or over thinking? Inability to take action? - His tragic flaw is probably more of what we see as a virtue. He is not rash, thinks through things and is logical. We consider these things to be good, but they kept Hamlet from acting and ultimately led to his downfall. Is Hamlet really mad? - Three possibilities: Hamlet may have been mad from the beginning, never have been mad at all or be driven to madness over time. - Some scenes make him seem to have some element of madness such as the scene in Gertrude’s room and the scene at Ophelia’s grave. However, he thinks through things logically and seems very aware for most of the play. Does the question of Hamlet’s madness affect how we see the play? - It matters because it determines how much control he has over his actions. - This may change how we think of the character when he kills people, treats Ophelia poorly and sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be killed.


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