Act One Questions Who, What, Why? 1.What reasons do Laertes and Polonius give for their command to Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet? • List at least ONE REASON for each
Answer: Question 1/ Laertes Who, What, Why? • “For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favours. Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, A violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, The perfume and suppliance of a minute, No more.” (1.3.5-10) You are both young, this is “puppy love”; a phase, a passing attraction (like a violet in spring). • “…Perhaps he loves you now, And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch The virtue of his will; but you must fear, His greatness weighed, his will is not his own.” (1.3. 14-17) Maybe he does love you now, but considering his noble rank– his will is not his own.
Answers: Question 1/ Laertes Who, What, Why? • “For he himself is subject to his birth: He may not, as unvalued persons do, Carve for himself for on his choice The safety and health of this whole state:…” (1.3. 18-21) Unlike ordinary people, he can’t do what he’d like– the whole of Denmark’s safety and well-being depends on who he chooses. “And therefore must his choice be circumscribed Under the voice and yielding of that body Whereof he is the head.” (1.3. 22-24) His choices are ruled by the approval and consent of Denmark, as he is the head of state.
Answers: Question 1/ Laertes Who, What, Why? “Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain If with too credent ear you lost his songs, Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open To his unmastered importunity.” (1.3.29-32) Consider the damage to your reputation if you were to listen to his songs too trustfully or especially, if you were to give up your virginity to his pleadings!
Answer: Question 1/ Polonius Who, What, Why? “Marry, I’ll teach you: think yourself a baby, That you have taken these tenders for true pay, Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly; Or– not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, Running it thus– you’ll tender me a fool.” (1.3.105-109) Consider yourself a baby. You have taken these “tenders” as real “tender”, but they’re counterfeit. “Tender” yourself at a higher value– or you will make a fool if your father when you get pregnant!
Answers: Question 1/ Polonius Who, What, Why? “Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul Gives the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter, Giving more light than heat, extinct in both, Even in the their promise, as it is a making, You must not take for fire.” (1.3. 115- 120) It’s a trap…lavish vows are given in the heat of passion! He says things he doesn’t mean, don’t believe him. “I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth Have you so slander any moment leisure As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to’t, I charge you.” (1.3.32-35) He orders Ophelia not to see Hamlet any more.
Act One Questions Who, What, Why? • 2. What signs are given of a potential madness on Hamlet’s part (in this Act)? Give at least TWO examples.
Answers: Question 2 Who, What, Why? • Signs that Hamlet is mad (crazy): • In his soliloquy (1.2) he talks about how he wishes he were dead. “o, that this too, too solid flesh would melt…” (1.2.129) • Wants to see and talk to his father’s ghost. “…I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape…” (1.2. 244) • He speaks to a ghost… (1.4. 40-45)
Answers: Question 2 Who, What, Why? • He follows the ghost, even though he is warned against it. He says he doesn’t value his own life, so he isn’t worried of the danger the ghost may put him in. (1.4.65-69) • Tells Horatio that he plans to act like a madman. “Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, / How strange or odd so ever I bear myself-- / As perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on—” (1.5.170-174)
Act One Questions Who, What, Why? • 3. What does Hamlet believe is the way his father died, before he meets the apparition?
Answers: Question 3 Who, What, Why? • Hamlet, like the kingdom, thinks the king has died of natural causes. They have no reason to think otherwise. Hamlet is taken aback when the ghost speaks of revenge. He is more surprised when he tells him he has been murdered. But, Hamlet does reveal that he sensed foul play from his uncle, “O my prophetic soul! My uncle!” (1.5. 41-42)
Imagery and Symbolism • Find two references to disease or decay. • See a classmate. All these quotes and explanations were covered in class.
THEME Appearance Versus Reality • The ghost comes in “questionable shape”. Find THREE references to the “Appearance vs. Reality” theme. (For example: someone may “appear” to be a friend, while in “reality” they are plotting a back-stabbing move…)
Answers: THEME Appearance Versus Reality • In Act 2, Scene 1– Hamlet challenges his mother and Claudius when they berate him about “appearing” too sad. He emphatically replies that he does not “seem” to be sad, but is sad. • “…Together with all forms, modes, shapes of grief,/ That can denote me truly…” (1.2.82-83)
Answers: THEME Appearance Versus Reality • Ophelia responds to her brother’s long list of advice regarding Hamlet and tells him not to be a hypocrite: giving all sorts of advice and then doing the opposite. • “…But, good brother, Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, Whilst, like a puff’d and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads And recks not his own rede.” (1.3. 46-51)
Answers: THEME Appearance Versus Reality • He refers to his own mother as “…my most seeming-virtuous queen…” (1.5.47). • He implies that she acts as if she has virtue, but he thinks that she really is not so virtuous. Indeed, later after the ghost tells him of the circumstance of his death, Hamlet implies she has knowledge of this plan, “O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!” (1.5. 105-106)
Answers: THEME Appearance Versus Reality • Finally, Hamlet sums up his feelings about his mistrust of people: “My tables – meet it is I set it down, That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain; At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark…” (1.5. 109-110) He feels people seem one way, but are really something else.