In a brief, succinct, but complete manner, respond to each of the following questions. In each case, you must base your questions on specific passages from the text of the play and reference those passages in your answer. Your responses may, of necessity, be based upon your interpretation, which is fine (good even!), but should nonetheless be rooted in evidence from the script to which you can point.
Your responses should also be considered in the context of and address the play’s “main action” or “super-objective.” For our purposes, consider this to be “To put things right (in Denmark).”
The written responses need not be lengthy. Try to limit yourself to one succinct paragraph each.
Work on your own paper. Be sure your responses are typed or word processed.
What is the nature or condition of the state of Denmark throughout the time of the play? Find as many references as you can to this, citing at least three, from three different parts of the play.
Why does Hamlet feel it necessary to put on a play in order “to catch the conscience of the king?” (Act II, sc 2) What concerns him that he feels that this is necessary?
Why does Hamlet direct Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery?” (Act 3, sc1) What concerns him that he feels this is necessary?
Having confirmed, at least in his own mind, the guilt of Claudius, why doe Hamlet not kill Claudius when he has the opportunity in the chapel? (Act 3, sc3) Would he be justified in doing so at this point?
Who does Hamlet believe he is stabbing behind the arras in his mother’s closet? (Act III, sc 4) Given the decision that he has made in the chapel (previous scene), why should he now feel that this action is warranted?
Why doe Claudius send Hamlet to England? (Act IV, sc 3) For what purpose does he enlist Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? How do we learn this?
Does Hamlet reach England? What happens along the way? (Act V, sc2) What becomes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Are they aware of this purpose?
Why is Hamlet challenged to a duel with Laertes? (Act V, sc2) By whom is he challenged?
Given Hamlet’s knowledge of Laertes anger toward Hamlet, why does he accept?
Ultimately, why does Hamlet kill Claudius? (Act V, sc2) Is he justified in doing so? Should his act be considered murder? Why, or why not?
What is the significance of Hamlet’s final actions before he dies? (Act V, sc 2) What does he do? In terms of the main action of the play, what do these actions serve to suggest to us?
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