Hamlet is one of the most innovative and influential plays of William Shakespeare. That’s only natural that the readers may have some questions about it. On this page, our writers have collected the most searched answers to the most pressing issues. By clicking on the links, you can see the full versions.
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❓ Hamlet Q&A
Hamlet is a problem play, as it represents the theme of madness. Hamlet tries to make people think he is harmless, pretending to be mad. But examining the death of his father, Hamlet is losing touch with reality.
Hamlet is distinguished by the presence of not one but two climaxes. The first peak is the death of Polonius in act 3, which breaks the tension that had built up. The final climax is the battle in the finale of the tragedy.
The reader can regard the duel in Act 5, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s tragedy as the “moment of final suspense.” In the scene before, Hamlet agreed to have the fencing match with Laertes. Their duel becomes the climax of the play and its “moment of suspense.”
The play reflects its society by mirroring the monarchical form of government. Revealing social norms related to the time, it serves as a commentary on culture. Shakespeare displayed people of the Elizabethan age by showing the cultural and social conditions.
Throughout Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet goes on a quest to take revenge against his father’s murderer. Some characters support Hamlet, while others scheme against him. Laertes is one of those who share the same goal with the main character. Both of them share a motivation to seek revenge for their fathers’ murders.
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Two of the characters that showed signs of insanity are Claudius and Ophelia. Hamlet faked his madness at the beginning of the play for the sake of revenge for his father. However, later he was indeed behaving like a mad man.
In the famous play by Shakespeare, King Hamlet dies at the hands of his envious brother – Claudius. Being not the only child in the family, Claudius does not have much power. The villain poisons King Hamlet and takes his place on the throne.
The primary use of the dramatic convention in act 1 scene 2 is the introduction of a significant conflict. Claudius states that he has married the widow of his brother, King Hamlet. It results in the protagonist’s inner turmoils that influence the plot the most.
The main reason why Polonius thinks that Hamlet is mad is because of his obsessive love for Ophelia. As a result, he forbids his daughter to communicate with the prince for her safety and dignity.
Inner conflicts that Hamlet experiences are connected with the revenge for his father’s death. He tries to deal with grief and betrayal by his loved ones. In doing so, he contemplates life and death, religion, and duty.
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Hamlet gets wounded at the duel with Claudius and tells his last words to his friend Horatio. The prince reflects on Denmark’s political situation and leaves a remark, “the rest is silence.”
The allusion about Pyrrhus and Prim directly refers to Hamlet’s idea of avenging his father. He strives to murder his uncle, Claudius. The man poisoned King Hamlet and married the hero’s mother.
The actors’ physical appearance in Hamlet helps to show the spectators the emotional state of the characters. When the main character looks clean and neat, it shows that he is not insane. The rationality of the character’s actions is depicted through the looks.
Hamlet is a complicated character, driven mainly by inner conflicts. His intense emotions and moral dilemmas affect the plot and everyone’s lives. What makes Hamlet’s personality complex and multifaceted is the chaos of his own emotions.
There are many conflicts presented in the entire play. However, one of the crucial arguments occurred on the basis of the death of Hamlet’s father. Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, reveals to him that his father deceased. She also married his uncle Claudius, which adds to Hamlet’s frustration.
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The Ghost of Hamlet’s father appears in act 1, scene 5, and gives guidance to his son. He reveals the cause of his death: his brother, King Claudius, poisoned him when he was asleep. The Ghost demands Hamlet take revenge on Claudius but to do no harm to Queen Gertrude for her actions.
In Hamlet, dramatic irony is created when only Hamlet and the readers learn the truth about the King’s death. His pretense of being mad also results in this type of irony. He fakes it for everyone, and other characters believe in his insanity.
The words “Enter to him BERNARDO” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet) at the beginning of act 1, scene 1, is an example of stage direction. This excerpt is the direction to the actors added by the playwright that explains what they have to do.
Gertrude is presented as a multifaceted character, plus her portrait changes throughout the play. However, Act 4 shows her as defensive, as Hamlet made her see her marriage’s misfortune. In some cases, Gertrude appears nervous and indecisive.
The phrase “pangs of dispriz’d love” refers to Hamlet’s hurtful love for Ophelia. It may also indicate the injustice of Hamlet’s father’s death.
Polonius is the character of the play Hamlet whose words and speeches cannot be called short. He is almost always verbose and overly detailed, repeating his words. Consequently, his phrase “brevity is the soul of wit” contradicts his actions.
Act 2, scene 1 of Hamlet begins with the passage “A room in Polonius’ house,” which describes the stage’s setting. Shakespeare chose this place to depict the privacy of Polonius’ dishonest actions and intentions.
Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship is complicated. The prince had genuine feelings towards Ophelia before his father’s death. Following his mother’s second marriage, he develops trust issues. These factors, combined with progressing madness, leads to his anger and misogyny. Yet, at Ophelia’s grave, Hamlet proclaims his love to her again.
Claudius is afraid of Hamlet and wants to silence him and put “fetters upon this fear.” He plans on sending his nephew away to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
The recurring scenes of corruption, revenge, and insanity lead to an understanding of antagonists’ inevitable tragic deaths. The formalist perspective in Shakespeare’s Hamlet creates the basis for this analysis.
The nunnery scene is a result of Hamlet’s issues with both his mother and Ophelia. To his mother, the phrase is a call to change her promiscuous ways. To Ophelia, it is mostly an expression of Hamlet’s jealousy – if he can’t have her, no one else should.
Hamlet’s views on death change throughout the play. He contemplates the link between mortality and religion, fearing the afterlife. Hamlet continues reflecting on the topic and comes to accept it. Death doesn’t seem too scary or dreadful until he starts to see the value of life.
As time changes, creators interpret the themes from Hamlet differently. It leads to various adaptations that include technologies, current culture and ideas. In other words, what the audience can see in today’s world, they can recognize in modern Hamlet versions.
The graveyard scene plays an essential role, raising the theme of mortality. In Act 5, Scene 2, the gravediggers make comments on mortality, equality, injustice as they are digging a grave. Hamlet is preoccupied with the issue and reflects on death and murder.
The phrase conveys Hamlet’s inner emotional state and philosophy. Hamlet is depressed because his father died. Similarly to the state of Denmark, he is also physically and mentally constrained. It is due to Claudius usurped the throne and married his mother. These two factors summarize the meaning of the phrase.
“What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow?”
Claudius’ fears are connected to the murder of his brother and the consequent punishment he perceives as a real curse.
Act 1, scene 1 of Hamlet, sets the tone for the entire play. The sense of suspense and fear is created through the ghost. It’s a character that looks like the deceased King of Denmark.
Hamlet’s mother and the Queen of Denmark, Gertrude, is one of the play’s main characters. Her development between Act I and Act IV can be summarized as follows – she becomes less confident in her assertions.
Hamlet’s view of women is indeed critical and suspicious:
“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance.”
After the first meeting with King Claudius, it seems to us that he is evil, cruel, and heartless. Nevertheless, then we realize that his character is more complex. Claudius’ character is expressed in act 3, particularly in the fact that he regrets his actions.
Hamlet’s monologue reveals the immense grief that he feels after losing his father. He is distressed about the fact that his mother married another man after only a month of his father’s passing. He is unable to show the full extent of his pain to his friends and relatives.
The word that best describes Laertes is “passionate.” In act IV, he is informed of his father’s death and decides to return to Denmark. Claudius persuades Laertes to take revenge on Hamlet for his father’s death. His zeal characterizes him as a passionate person who follows his heart.
Contemplating suicide in his soliloquy “To be or not to be,” Hamlet talks about “shuffling off this mortal coil.” As an idiom, the phrase means “to die and free oneself from the troubles of life.”
In Act III of Hamlet, actors perform the killing of King Hamlet. His son assumes that theatrical plays have a real influence on its viewers and can reveal the truth. It represents Elizabethian drama by teaching a spiritual lesson about human behavior.
The unhappy ending is the dramatic convention. The author would utilize it to kill Hamlet at the end of the play. Hamlet can be considered both a comedy and a tragedy. So, such a technique seems fitting in the Shakespearean style.
Protestant Reformation serves as a primary historical background in Hamlet. The period in the text is evident through domestic details and relationships between the characters. Indeed, Hamlet demonstrates several qualities that can be considered uncommon for Catholics’ behavior.
Hamlet does not see the value of human life. He thinks that those who decide to continue living are cowards. Pondering life and death in his key soliloquy, Hamlet comes to one conclusion. He thinks that only fear of what happens after passing stops people from suicide. Him as well.
Horatio and Marcellus see the ghost as the harbinger of the dark times coming for Denmark. Horatio connects the warlike appearance of the spirit to the armed conflict with Norway.
Son of Polonius, brother of Ophelia, in Act I, Laertes is a dutiful character. In Act IV, he disregards all the rules and does not care whether his behavior is correct. Laertes is a young man who has neither logical thinking and a cold mind nor patience.
Claudius delegates Cornelius and Voltimand to go to Norway. Their task is to deliver a letter where he begs their king for help. As a Denmark King, he is afraid that the war between him and the Norwegian king’s nephew, Prince Fortinbras, may start.
Polonius, in Hamlet, sends Reynaldo to France as his undercover agent to spy on his son. He pays him as his servant. Polonius wants to control his son even from another country and asks to dent Laertes’s reputation using any sort of lies.
The phrase’s meaning is simple: one should look at the evidence and believe what they see with their eyes. It also refers to skeptics, who are always searching for proof.
Upon learning of his father’s death, Laertes feels immense grief. He immediately tries to find the one responsible for the act. He is shown full of anger and sadness at the same time, unable to control his emotions. Laertes swears to take revenge on the murderer, Hamlet.
A soliloquy is a character’s monologue in a play, not directed towards anyone in particular. Shakespeare uses them as a tool to reveal thought processes. An aside is a short expression of the characters’ feelings or thoughts. They share them with the audience, unbeknownst to other characters in the play.
Reynaldo must follow Polonius’s instructions because Polonius is his social superior, whom he must listen to and obey.
The scene of a conversation between Polonius and his son takes place before Laertes leaves for France. People are inclined to judge others by their appearance. So, Polonius advises dressing appropriately, in a prosperous but not gaudy manner.
In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the main hero contemplates the certainty of death over the skull. It belongs to Yorick, a jester he once knew. In his thoughts, he concludes that death is the ultimate equalizer of all lives. In the end, everyone will “return into dust.”
The injustice of social inequality is best explored in the gravedigger scene of Act 5. It involves two gravediggers discussing the upcoming burial of Ophelia. She would receive a “Christian burial” despite committing suicide. The gravediggers believe that Ophelia escaped the standard penalty thanks to her high social status.
Hamlet did not murder Claudius as he did not want him to go to heaven. Yet an opportunity to kill him appeared when Claudius was praying. Murdered in a sacred place with a prayer on one’s lips, a person would ascend to heaven. Hamlet could not let that happen.
During a forcible dialogue between Hamlet and Gertrude at the end of act 3, Polonius revealed his presence. The protagonist pierced the tapestry hoping that Claudius was hiding behind it. Therefore, one may say that the murder happened by accident.
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