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Hamlet

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					  Hamlet

Act III, scene 1
    1. What does Claudius admit to
  himself (and to the audience) about
               his crime?

• After Polonius tells Ophelia that pious words
  and acts can mask a truly sinful character,
  Claudius admits that he feels guilty and
  burdened by the way his own actions and
  words have masked his crime.
    2. List the personal grievances Hamlet
     expresses in his “To be or not to be
     soliloquy” and explain what specific
     events in Hamlet’s life they refer to.
• …whips and scorns of time, [the upheaval of one social order
  ending and another beginning] the oppressor’s wrong,
  [Claudius’ treatment of Hamlet: his refusal to allow Hamlet to
  return to Wittenberg, setting spies on Hamlet, etc.] the proud
  man’s contumely, [Polonius’ condescension of] the pangs of
  despised love, [Ophelia’s breaking up with him] the law’s
  delay, / The insolence of office [the fact that somehow
  Claudius, and not Hamlet, has become king after Hamlet’s
  father’s death] and the spurns / That patient merit of the
  unworthy takes, [in every way Hamlet, and before him his
  father, is more than worthy than Claudius and Polonius, but it
  is Claudius and Polonius who have the power and influence.]
3. What metaphor does Hamlet use in
   his “To be or not to be speech” to
express his developing understanding
    of death? How does he further
        develop this metaphor?
• Hamlet metaphorically compares death to
  sleep. He adds to it by comparing the afterlife
  (especially the possibility of Hell) to bad
  dreams during the sleep of death.
• He also metaphorically compares death to an
  undiscovered country “from which no traveler
  returns.”
   4. What information does Ophelia
   provide about Hamlet’s character
   before the beginning of the play?
• Ophelia compares the now “mad” Hamlet
  with the bright, funny, gentle and genteel man
  Hamlet was previously. She describes him as
  having been a very promising Renaissance
  prince.
     5. Explain the ambiguity of the
             nunnery scene.
• Literally, a nunnery is a convent. On this,
  Hamlet could actually be advising Ophelia to
  cloister herself away where she will escape
  the calamity that is to come (Hamlet knows
  Ophelia will obey her father). Also, as a nun,
  Ophelia will not be a “breeder of sinners,” a
  temptress to seduce otherwise virtuous men
  to sin. On the other hand, nunnery is slang for
  brothel, so Hamlet might be accusing Ophelia
  (and, by extension, all women) of being a
  prostitute.
6. What is the main thrust of Hamlet’s
      diatribe against Ophelia?
• Hamlet accuses Ophelia—although he is
  clearly talking about all women in general and
  his mother specifically—of being a temptress,
  a seductress. As is embedded in the story of
  Adam and Eve, woman is the origin of evil in
  the world, having tempted man into sinning.
  Hamlet especially attacks a woman’s use of
  cosmetics and baby-talk to attract a man’s
  attention.

				
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