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HAMLET

STUDY GUIDE FOR TEACHERS

Copyright ©2007 Rubicon Theatre Company

How to use this Study Guide?

This packet contains a variety of information and activities to help you prepare your students for their trip the theatre. Although it is not necessary to review all the material with your group we do encourage you to share the sections indicated in the table of contents that have been marked with an asterisk. We feel that these pages will be most valuable for your students to not only enjoy the play but understand what it means to be in the audience of a live performance and what is expected of them.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

* * * * Theater Etiquette William Shakespeare: A Brief Biography Hamlet: Plot Overview Major Character Chart Words Invented By Shakespeare Famous Quotes Trivia - "To Be Or Not To Be Hamlet" Suggested Pre-Viewing Activities Possible Post Play Activities Discussion Topics Opportunity Cost Visual Organizer Hamlet Crossword Puzzle Crossword Puzzle Answers Advanced Study Questions for Hamlet by Acts Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4 Act 5 Pages 3 - 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 -14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17-18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22

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*Be sure to review these chapters with your students before you come to the theatre.

Rubicon Theatre Company

Student Matinees

Theater Etiquette

Please review with your student group before you attend the theatre.

Thank you for "crossing the Rubicon," and exposing your students to live professional theatre. To assist you in preparing your students for the experience, we have created some guidelines which we hope may be of use. Live theatre is different from the experience of attending a rock concert, where the performers may "break the third wall" and interact with the audience. At rock concerts, it might be acceptable for an audience member to get up and go talk to someone else in the audience, or to leave to bring concessions back into the auditorium. This is not the case in the theatre. At a small theatre such as ours, there is no enhancement from microphones. Hence, it is essential that the audience refrain from talking, scraping chairs, rustling papers and the like. More important, the story and the message are in the language, not in the visuals, close-ups and/or special effects - and that requires a careful ear. Audience members must concentrate on what is being said, and the distractions of extraneous noise interfere with concentration. Theatre is also different from television or movies. At a movie, if you leave to get popcorn or whisper to someone sitting next to you, it doesn't disrupt the performance or distract the performers. In the theatre, the audience becomes the "other character in the play." The actors can feel when an audience is with them. Often a performance is improved or heightened when an audience is intensely involved in the action or words of the play. The audience helps shape the experience. Good live theatre also tends to present complex characters and issues. Like poetry, the enjoyment of which requires thought and later discussion, live theatre is often best appreciated after the program is over. Audience members then have a chance to think about how characters change over the course of the play, how the resolution of the conflicts conveys the playwright's and the director's views, or how specific lines delivered by specific characters affect our own view of the world differently. Live theatre, therefore, should be discussed afterward; and to discus with insight, the audience needs to listen carefully. Live theatre is an "intimate" experience. Because we are close to the actors, who, if they are good, are portraying powerfully the deepest human emotions, we are able to feel that emotional tenor ourselves. Concentrating on what the actors are feeling enhances an audience's enjoyment. Many of our participating schools have thoughtfully prepared and trained their student body to be a good live audience. If you are one of those schools, we thank you for the work you have done. If you are not sure, the following are some suggestions we know other schools have found effective: 1. There shall be no late seating. All students and staff should arrive by 9:30 a.m. and be seated before the program begins. 2. Instruct your teachers and chaperones to sit throughout the theatre with the students. The presences of an adult is sometimes enough to remind students to behave. 3. The opening and closing of doors, for whatever reason, creates distraction and can disrupt the performance. Therefore, once the performance has started no one will be allowed to leave the theatre unless it is an emergency, so be sure to advise your group use the restroom before the performance begins and then again at intermission. 4. Encourage positive audience participation; applause and laughter appropriate to the action are expected. They are to refrain from catcalls and any response which is likely to distract others. Remind them of the importance of listening carefully.

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During the intermission, Rubicon will provide your group with free bottle of water and a granola or breakfast bar. Please note that there is only one per person.

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There is no gum, food or drink allowed in the theatre. The use of cell phones, pagers, i-Pods and the like is strictly prohibited. Students found using these devices during a performance will be asked to surrender these items to the usher until the completion of the performance at which time they will be returned.

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The taking of photos, with or with out a flash and the use of any recording device is prohibited by law and strongly enforced at our theatre.

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If you haven't already done so we invite you to use the contents of this study guide to prepare your students in advance. Students who have previous exposure to the subject matter through in class discussions and exercises are more likely to be an attentive audience. One remarkable teacher who brought her students to see our

st nd production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons instructed her class to read only the 1 and 2 acts of the play and then

write their own version of the 3rd act envisioning how play would end. The students did not know the true outcome of the play until they saw the performance. It proved to be a very exciting and engaging experience for all. 10. Before you arrive at the theatre ask the students to think about three questions they would like to ask the actors during the post-show "talkback" session. Direct them to stay away from questions that might be inappropriate. For example questions about an actors age or marital status. Instead, help them focus on questions that directly relate to the play, its characters and themes. Students may also be interested to know more about the technical and scenic elements of the performance. 11. At the end of the performance a Rubicon representative will provide you with an evaluation packet containing feedback forms for both you and your students. We truly want to hear about your experience and ask that you work with your students to fill out the forms and send them back to us at the following address: Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 East Main Street, Ste. 300, Ventura, CA 93001 Att: Brian McDonald. Finally, on behalf of the entire Rubicon Outreach Committee, I thank you for your participation and look forward to personally welcoming you to Rubicon. If we can be of help to you, or if you have ideas regarding how we can make this a better experience for your students, please let our school Liaisons know. You can also contact me at [email protected] or by calling (805) 667-2912 ext. 234. Thank you again for your continued interest and support. Sincerely, Brian McDonald Associate Producer/ Outreach Director

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William Shakespeare: A Brief Biography

William Shakespeare (1564 ­1616) wrote approximately 38 plays and 154 sonnets in his lifetime, as well as a variety of other poems. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare is believed to have attended King Edward VI Grammar School in central Stratford. At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had two children. After the birth of his two children in 1585, he disappears from all existing historical records until the 1590's, when he shows up in records as a reputable actor, playwright, and part-owner of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a popular London-based theatre company. William Shakespeare is counted among the very few playwrights who have excelled in both tragedy and comedy, and his plays combine popular appeal with complex characterisation, poetic grandeur and philosophical depth. Shakespeare's works have been translated into every major living language, and his plays are continually performed all around the world. In addition, Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the literature and history of the English-speaking world, and many of his quotations and neologisms have passed into everyday usage in English and other languages.

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Hamlet: PLOT OVERVIEW

Plot summary courtesy of Wikisummaries: Free Book Summaries. Outside Elsinore Castle in Denmark, two months after the death of King Hamlet, a ghost has begun haunting the night. The watchmen who discover the ghost show Horatio, a friend of Prince Hamlet's, who suggests they show the prince. King Hamlet's ghost tells Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother Claudius, and begs Hamlet to avenge his murder. Claudius is currently the king, having married the former King Hamlet's wife Gertrude and taken the throne. Hamlet is determined to take revenge. Mired in doubt, he decides to pretend to be insane. His mother, Queen Gertrude, and his stepfather, King Claudius, enlist two of Hamlet's friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to discover what's wrong with Hamlet. Polonius, Claudius' closest advisor, suspects that Hamlet may be mad with denied love for Polonius' daughter Ophelia. Claudius and Polonius decide to spy on Hamlet while he talks to Ophelia, and Hamlet rejects her. An acting troupe arrives at the castle. Hamlet decides to use the players to discover if Claudius is truly guilty. He directs the actors to enact a play depicting the supposed events of King Hamlet's murder, as told by the ghost. True to Hamlet's expectations, Claudius jumps up when the murder is shown, and quickly leaves the room. Hamlet plans to kill Claudius, but when he finds him praying, he changes his mind and decides to wait and kill him later, [Claudius, by praying, guarantees his own entry into Heaven; Hamlet wants to make sure Claudius goes straight to Hell for his sins.]. Soon after, Hamlet and his mother Gertrude talk in her private room. He tells her about his suspicions and scolds her for her disloyalty to his father, not realizing that Polonius is hiding behind the curtain. He hears a noise and immediately stabs the intruder to death, believing it to be the King. After accidentally killing Polonius, Hamlet is sent away to England immediately. However, the King has secretly arranged for Hamlet to killed, by sending sealed letters with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Shortly after setting sail, they are attacked by pirates. Hamlet manages to escape and return to Denmark. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern continue sailing for England, unaware that Hamlet has switched out the sealed letters they carry with orders that they be put to death instead. Scorned by Hamlet and orphaned by Polonius' death, Ophelia loses her mind. Her brother Laertes returns from France, determined to avenge the death of his father Polonius. His heartbreak and anger intensifies when Ophelia drowns shortly after his return. Claudius convinces Laertes to seek his revenge against Hamlet. Together they scheme to arrange a fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet, [wherein Laertes will cover the tip of his sword with poison with which to kill Hamlet.] If Hamlet wins, the King will supply a poisoned cup from which Hamlet may drink. Shortly after returning to Denmark, Hamlet chances upon Ophelia's funeral and is stricken with grief, insisting that he always loved her. Back at the castle, the sword-fighting match begins between Laertes and Hamlet. Hamlet is initially winning. Queen Gertrude drinks to his success and is killed by the poisoned cup. Meanwhile, Laertes wounds Hamlet. They accidentally exchange swords, and then Hamlet wounds Laertes. When Hamlet perceives that he, Laertes, and Gertrude have been poisoned, he stabs Claudius with the poisoned blade and makes him drink the rest of the poisoned drink. Laertes absolves Hamlet of guilt in his and Polonius' murder. Laertes, Hamlet, and the King all die within a few minutes of one another.

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Major Character Chart

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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the title character, is the son of the late King, also named Hamlet. He is just back from Wittenberg, where he was a sometime student at the university. Claudius, King of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle. He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his brother, the old King Hamlet. He also, in short order, married Gertrude, his brother's widow, Hamlet's mother. He is revealed to be the killer of King Hamlet. Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, Hamlet's mother widowed by King Hamlet's death, she rather too quickly wedded Claudius. In Shakespeare's England, marriage to the brother of one's deceased husband was considered incest by the Church.

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Ghost appearing to be Hamlet's father, the former king may be an evil spirit. The old king has died recently, so his spirit, while suffering in Purgatory, could be walking at night, vexed and vengeful. Polonius, counsellor to the king is Claudius's chief advisor and father to Ophelia and Laertes. He is old, and often humorously played as fatuous and long-winded. Laertes, son of Polonius is a young aristocrat, who has been living in Paris and comes home for the coronation of Claudius. "Laertes" is the name of Odysseus's father in Homer's epics. Ophelia, daughter of Polonius. She and Hamlet have had a romance, although whether it was mainly in the form of letters, gifts, and significant looks, or had advanced further, is not clear. She is later driven mad by her father's death. Horatio, Hamlet's friend and fellow-student from Wittenberg. Apparently a Dane, he had come to Elsinore for old Hamlet's funeral and has stayed on. He is viewed as a "scholar", and converses easily with almost everyone in the court, from the guards to the royals. Horatio is the only character with whom Hamlet converses freely for the majority of the play. Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, former schoolfellows of Hamlet. If they knew him at university, it must have been a while ago, as they seem not to know Horatio, recently from Wittenberg. Both their names were extant in Denmark at the time Shakespeare composed Hamlet, so he could have obtained them from a number of sources. Fortinbras, Prince of Norway. He is the son of King Fortinbras, who was killed in battle by Hamlet's father, so he, too, has vengeance on his mind. His firm and decisive action contrasts with Hamlet's procrastination. His name means "strong arm". Osric is a courtier, "full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse," who referees the sword fight between Hamlet and Laertes.

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Words Invented by Shakespeare

During Shakespeare's day, much as today, the world was changing rapidly and new words had to be invented to describe this changing world. Today, journalists, music and rap stars, scientists, internet users and others constantly come up with new words, which include blog, e-mail, texting, f'shizzle, peeps, bling, and a long list of words that are inappropriate for print in this study guide. Words that are first credited to Shakespeare include: Addiction Asassination Bloodsucking Dalmation Epileptic Go-between Majestic Retirement Vulnerable Admirable Baseless Catlike Dewdrop Exposure Hostile Misquote Savagery Weird Aerial Bedazzle Cold-blooded Dexterously Eyeball Impartial Never-ending Schoolboy Well-behaved Amazement Belongings Colorful Downstairs Fashionable Invulnerable Overpower Successful Worn out Anchovy Birthplace Countless Employer Foul-mouthed Laughable Overrate Tardiness Yelping Arch-Villian Bloodstained Cruelhearted Engagement Full-grown Madwoman Priceless Useless Zany

Common phrases first credited to Shakespeare include: "Come what may" "Full circle" "Double, double, toil and trouble" "Hearts of gold" "It was Greek to me" "Lend me your ears" "Love is blind" "My own flesh and blood" "Rhyme nor reason" "Too much of a good thing" "Woe is me"

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FAMOUS QUOTES

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I must hold my tongue. Frailty, thy name is woman. Thrift, thrift, Horatio. Neither a borrower nor a lender be. This above all ­ to thine own self be true. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy. Words, words, words. Brevity is the soul of wit. Thou this be madness, yet there is method in't. What a piece of work is a man. I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. To be or not to be ­ that is the question. A little more than kin, and less than kind. Get thee to a nunnery. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. My offence is rank, it smells to heaven. The rest is silence. I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw. Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? I will speak daggers to her, but use none. Alas, poor yorick! I knew him, Horatio. The cat will mew, and dog will have his day. A hit! A very palpable hit! Good-night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. To hold, as t'were, the mirror up to nature. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance...and there is pansies, that's for thoughts. My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

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Trivia - "To be or not to be Hamlet"

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Laurence Olivier, (1937) John Gielgud (1939), and Derek Jacobi (1978) played the title role of Hamlet at Elsinore Castle in Denmark, the actual setting of the play. Christopher Plummer played the role in a television version (1966) that was filmed there. After John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, his brother Edwin Booth went into a brief retirement but made his comeback in his signature role of Prince Hamlet. Rather than wait for Hamlet's first appearance in the text to meet the audience's response, Booth sat on the stage in the play's first scene and was met by a lengthy standing ovation. Booth's Broadway run of Hamlet lasted for 100 performances in 1864, an incredible run for its time. When John Barrymore played the part on Broadway to acclaim in 1922, it was assumed that he would close the production after 99 performances out of respect for Booth. But Barrymore extended the run to 101 performances so that he would have the record for himself. The longest recorded London run is Henry Irving's, who played the part for over 200 consecutive nights in 1874 and revived it to acclaim with Ellen Terry as Ophelia in 1878. Peter O'Toole played Hamlet in the premiere production of the Royal National Theatre (1963). The longest Broadway run of Hamlet is the 1964 production starring Richard Burton and directed by Gielgud, which ran for 137 performances. The actor who has played the part most frequently on Broadway is Maurice Evans, who played Hamlet for 267 performances in productions mounted in 1938, 1939, and 1945. Actresses who have played the title role in Hamlet include Sarah Siddons, Sarah Bernhardt, Asta Nielsen, Judith Anderson, and Diane Venora. The only actor to win a Tony Award for playing Hamlet is Ralph Fiennes in 1995. Richard Burton was nominated for the award in 1964, but lost to Alec Guinness in Dylan. Hume Cronyn won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Polonius in that production. The only actor to win an Academy Award for playing Hamlet is Laurence Olivier in 1948. The youngest actor to play the role on film was Ethan Hawke, who was 30. The oldest is Johnston Forbes-Robertson, who was 60.

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SUGGESTED PRE-VIEWING ACTIVITIES:

1) Put a sign over the four corners of the room. In one corner the sign should read, "Agree Strongly," in another corner the sign should read, "Agree," a third corner should read "Disagree," and the last corner's sign should say "Disagree Strongly." Instruct the Students to move, without talking to the other students, to the corner that corresponds to their reactions to each of the following statements: 1) There is an afterlife, and spirits are real. 2) Murder is always wrong. 3) There is no way to know if a person is truly mentally ill. 4) A parent has the right to control who their child dates. 5) A bad person can be a good leader. 6) Suicide is a sin. 7) There is such a thing as a perfect family. 8) Artists have the power to change society. Once they are in their corner they should choose one person from the group (sometimes there is only one student) to state the generalized beliefs of the people standing in that corner to the class. After sharing opinions on these statements, have students return to their desks. Tell students that all of these issues are in the play, Hamlet, that they will be seeing. 2) Have students write a paragraph on their most difficult decision ever. Discuss. Tell students that Hamlet had an incredibly difficult decision to make. Discuss indecisiveness....is it a sign of weakness or wisdom? This can be augmented with the Opportunity Cost Visual Organizer found later in this packet. 3) Using the "Famous Quotes" page in this packet, cut each quote into a strip of paper and give a strip to each student as they enter the room. Give the students time to read their quote and decide what the quote means. Then one by one, ask each students stand and read, with feeling and voice projection, the quotation before they sit down. Ask the students to express the meaning of the quote using their own words. Now have them read the quote again. See if they are able to convey the meaning of the quote as they speak it. (If you have more students than quotations, some may be used more than once.) This activity makes students familiar with some of the famous lines and during the production you will see them acknowledge "their" line.

POSSIBLE POST PLAY ACTIVITIES:

1) Students write a modern version of the "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy using the voice and point of view of a popular literary, television or film character, or a political figure. Then each group chooses one person to perform their new version for the rest of the class. 2) Have the students make a character collage. They should cut out words and pictures that seem to describe a character in the play. 3) Have the students assume that Polonius is an advice columnist. Students should choose three characters from the play and they should write letters to Laertes in which they outline their problems. Then Polonius should write his letter of response to each of the three characters. This could be done in groups of four with one student assuming the role of Polonius. 11

Hamlet Discussion Topics

1. Have you or anyone you have known ever seen or claimed to have witnessed some kind of supernatural being? Explain the circumstances surrounding the event. Do you believe in the supernatural? Explain. 2. How common do you believe the act of revenge is in everyday life? Share stories of specific incidents, including any in which you were involved or have witnessed. 3. How are relationships between stepparents and stepchildren generally depicted in fiction or film? Do you have any experience with or knowledge of step-relationships? What conflicts and barriers must be overcome? What are the advantages, the positive aspects of these relationships? 4. To what extent do parents have the right to "spy" or check up on their children? What circumstance might allow or prevent this? 5. Characterize yourself as a "thinker" or a "doer." In this respect what character in the play are you most like? How would you like to be different, or would you like to be different?

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Opportunity Cost Visual Organizer

Fill in the benefits and costs for each choice that Hamlet makes. Be sure to look at what he gives up as well as what he achieves/receives with each choice.

Decision to be made: EXAMPLE What kind of ice cream should I have? Choices Chocolate Vanilla Choice: Chocolate Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons) Benefits (Pros) Tastes Better Won't Stain Costs (Cons) Could stain white shirt Isn't as satisfying Outcome: Enjoyed by dessert and didn't get a stain on my shirt.

Choice:

Outcome:

Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons)

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Outcome:

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Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons)

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Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons)

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Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons)

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Decision to be made: Choices Benefits (Pros) Costs (Cons)

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Hamlet Crossword 1

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Across 1. Prince of Norway; wants to regain lands his father lost 7. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prepare to take Hamlet there 10. Hamlet jumps into Ophelia's ____ 11. Descriptive word Hamlet uses for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 12. To ____ or not to ____ 15. The ____ will mew and the dog will have his day. 17. Polonius' son 19. The ____ on Laertes sword kills Hamlet 21. Tells Hamlet of the wager the King made on Hamlet's behalf 23. Alas, poor ____! I knew him, Horatio. 25. Hamlet wonders whether a miserable life is better than the unknown of ____ 26. Leave her to ____/ And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge... 27. Old schoolmate and friend of Hamlet 28. Though this be madness, yet there is ____in't.

Down 2. She goes crazy and drowns 3. The ____ is out of joint 4. Neither a ____ nor a lender be. 5. ____, madam! Nay, it is. I know not ____. 6. Polonius thinks Hamlet has gone ____ because of Ophelia's rejections 8. Hamlet sees the ____ of his father 9. I will speak ____ to her, but use none. 13. Hamlet's home 14. The ____, the ____'s to blame. 15. I must be ____ only to be kind. 16. Hamlet runs his sword through it, killing Polonius who was hiding there 18. ____ to the ____ 19. The ____'s the thing 20. The lady doth ____ too much, methinks. 22. Polonius & Laertes tell Ophelia to ____ Hamlet's affections 24. Claudius wants Hamlet ____ when he reaches England

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Copyright 2005 Teacher's Pet Publications, Inc.

Hamlet Crossword 1 Answer Key

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Across 1. Prince of Norway; wants to regain lands his father lost 7. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prepare to take Hamlet there 10. Hamlet jumps into Ophelia's ____ 11. Descriptive word Hamlet uses for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 12. To ____ or not to ____ 15. The ____ will mew and the dog will have his day. 17. Polonius' son 19. The ____ on Laertes sword kills Hamlet 21. Tells Hamlet of the wager the King made on Hamlet's behalf 23. Alas, poor ____! I knew him, Horatio. 25. Hamlet wonders whether a miserable life is better than the unknown of ____ 26. Leave her to ____/ And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge... 27. Old schoolmate and friend of Hamlet 28. Though this be madness, yet there is ____in't.

Down 2. She goes crazy and drowns 3. The ____ is out of joint 4. Neither a ____ nor a lender be. 5. ____, madam! Nay, it is. I know not ____. 6. Polonius thinks Hamlet has gone ____ because of Ophelia's rejections 8. Hamlet sees the ____ of his father 9. I will speak ____ to her, but use none. 13. Hamlet's home 14. The ____, the ____'s to blame. 15. I must be ____ only to be kind. 16. Hamlet runs his sword through it, killing Polonius who was hiding there 18. ____ to the ____ 19. The ____'s the thing 20. The lady doth ____ too much, methinks. 22. Polonius & Laertes tell Ophelia to ____ Hamlet's affections 24. Claudius wants Hamlet ____ when he reaches England

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Copyright 2005 Teacher's Pet Publications, Inc.

Advanced Study Questions for Hamlet

ACT 1

What? Why? How? 1. What reasons do Laertes and Polonius give for their command to Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet? Are they reasonable? 2. What country is Horatio from? What makes it difficult to decide? 3. What similarities are there in the thoughts contained in each of the soliloquies in this act? (In I.ii. after Claudius and the court leave and in Act I.Scene v. after the ghost leaves) 4. The first scene could be (and has been) cut without damaging the plot. For what reasons would you wish to include it in a performance? 5. In what ways is the language spoken by the apparition different to the normal language of the play?

6. What signs are we given of a potential for madness on Hamlet's part? 7. How does Claudius attempt to establish his popularity in the second scene? 8. How can we tell Denmark is a Catholic country? Find TWO references which help to suggest this.

9. How did Old Hamlet tackle foreign policy, and how does this contrast with Claudius? 10. What does Hamlet believe about his father's death before he meets the apparition?

Stagecraft

1. How does Shakespeare create tension in the first scene? How does he surprise us? How does he mislead us? 2. How does Shakespeare invite us to compare and contrast Hamlet with Laertes and Fortinbras? 3. How does Shakespeare create tension in the second scene?

Imagery and Symbolism

1. Find TWO references to disease or decay.

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Themes 1. The ghost comes in 'questionable shape'. Find THREE references to the idea that it may not be what it seems. 2. Find THREE other references to characters not being what they seem. 3. The prince must decide whether and how to act according to his dead father's wishes. Find THREE references to remembering or forgetting. 4. The play suggests that our lives may be controlled by a divine power. Find THREE references to Fate or Providence.

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ACT 2 What? Why? How? 1. In what ways is the Pyrrhus character similar to Hamlet? and to Claudius? 2. How might the answer to (1) above help to explain Hamlet's desire to be reminded of this speech 'in particular'? 3. How might we connect the content of Hamlet's supposedly crazy remarks to Polonius to what the prince is actually feeling? 4. Name FIVE different characteristics of Polonius that can be proven on the basis of this act. 5. Why might one suspect that Hamlet's theory that the ghost may be devil is not what has actually stopped him from taking action? 6. What reasons for not acting are suggested by Hamlet himself? 7. What different types of madness do we see in Hamlet during this act? 8. What do each of the main characters feel to be the cause of Hamlet's madness? 9. Why might we agree that Claudius is a good king? 10. How does the Polonius and Reynaldo scene in II.i. contribute to the effect of the playas a whole?

Imagery and Symbolism 1. Find TWO references to disease or decay. Themes 1. Who is acting a part in this act? In what ways? 2. 'The time is out of joint'. In what ways does Hamlet discover this to be the case during Act Two?

3. Find THREE references to remembering or forgetting our feelings.

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ACT 3 What? Why? How?

1. What do Claudius and Polonius do in scene one, that Hamlet and Horatio do in scene two, that Hamlet does in scene three and Polonius does in scene four? 2. In what respects is the 'Play Scene' (III.ii) a turning point in the play? How is this turn compounded by Hamlet's actions in the 'Closet Scene' (III.iv)? 3. What does the fact that Hamlet's soliloquy in the 'Prayer Scene' (III.iii) was cut from performances of the play for nearly 200 years tell us about Shakespeare's likely intentions in writing this speech for the prince? 4. Does Claudius' soliloquy revise or compound your opinion of this character? 5. Hamlet is often thought to have a lot of soliloquies, though in actual fact, he has fewer than Macbeth and around the same number as Othello, who are thought to be men of action rather than meditation. How does the placing and subject of Hamlet's soliloquies in this act encourage the idea of a meditative prince? 6. 'I essentially am not in madness' says Hamlet (III.iv.188). Name four lines spoken by Hamlet in this act which might make you doubt this. 7. Is Hamlet at his worst in scene three or scene four of this act? 8. How do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern seem to have become more immoral since their first appearance in II.ii.? 9. For what reasons might you think that the Ghost in III.iv is an hallucination, and for what reasons might you think it is real? 10. After III.ii., the next time we see Ophelia she is mad. How are the seeds for this planted in this act?

Stagecraft

1. Name three dramatic surprises in this act. 2. Name two sections which successfully create tension.

Language and Imagery

1. Find three references to disease or rottenness.

20

ACT 4 What? Why? How?

1. Claudius begins and ends the act by lying to Gertrude. Name FOUR other aspects of his character that are provable on the basis of what he says and does in this act. Is he still wracked with guilt, do you think? 2. Has Gertrude reformed after her confrontation with Hamlet in III.iv.? 3. In what ways does Hamlet appear to change during this act? 4. When Laertes speaks in this act, he often uses hyperbolic (over-exaggerated) expressions. What might this imply about him? 5. Why has Ophelia gone mad? How might this be proven? 6. What does the Queen's speech about Ophelia's drowning suggest about her madness and the reasons for her death?

Structure

1. A past exam question reads: 'The action of the play begins to break down after act three'. Discuss. Why might you agree on the basis of act four?

Themes and Imagery

1. Where is disease imagery used in this act? Find FOUR examples. How is the meaning of this imagery made explicit? 2. What do scenes five and seven suggest about what commitment to taking revenge does to people?

3. Nonetheless, in what ways might Hamlet appear to be (morally) better than (a) Fortinbras and (b) Laertes?

21

ACT 5 What? Why? How?

1. What do you feel is the point of the gravedigger's riddles and song? 2. In what ways do Hamlet's reactions to the skulls in the graveyard seem to suggest a change in his outlook? 3. How old is Hamlet? 4. What does the violent argument between Hamlet and Laertes add to the play? 5. What developments in Hamlet's character are presented through the story of what happened on the boat? (V.ii.) 6. How do Hamlet's motives in killing Claudius seem to have shifted according to his speech beginning 'Does it not, think thee ... ' (V.ii)? 7. What concerns of the play are reinforced in the Osric episode? (V.ii.) 8. Why does Hamlet 'defy augury'? (V.ii.) 9. What does Laertes say is his motive in still resenting Hamlet? How has he already lost this? How does this contribute to the presentation of revenge in the play? (V.ii.) 10. How might the dying lines of Gertrude, Claudius and Laertes be viewed as typical of the way their characters have been presented throughout the play?

Stagecraft

1. What means does Shakespeare use to raise suspense during the graveyard scene? 2. What means does Shakespeare use to raise suspense during the fencing match?

Language and Imagery

1. In V.ii., Hamlet refers to Claudius as "this canker of our nature". What makes this so appropriate?

Themes

1. Which characters view the ending as bloody carnage and which as poetic justice? Why such confusion? 2. Who "wins" in Hamlet? How?

22

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