Hamlet Act III Notes
What question is Hamlet considering when he first appears in this act? What, according to Hamlet, is “a consummation/ devoutly to be wish’d?
Is it worth to live? (“to be or not to be, that is the question.” he wishes for a peaceful sleep
What, according to Hamlet, keeps a person from escaping the troubles of this life? What, according to Hamlet, does thinking too much–“the pale cast of thought”–do to people?
There is a fear of something dreadful happening after death.
Thought keeps people from taking action
What question does Hamlet pose to Ophelia, and what does he tell her that she should do?
“Are you honest?” (Are you a virgin?) He tells her to go to a nunnery so that she won’t “breed” sinners
How does Hamlet regard women, love, romance, and marriage? Why might he feel this way?
He thinks that it shouldn’t exist. He could feel this way because of his mother and Claudius getting married.
What does Claudius conclude about Hamlet after overhearing the conversation with Ophelia?
He concludes that Hamlet isn’t crazy, his sadness, not love, is making something else.
Why does Claudius decide to send Hamlet to England?
He believes that Hamlet is dangerous
What, according to Hamlet, is “the purpose of playing,” or acting?
to represent reality
What is Hamlet hoping will happen when the king sees the play?
He is hoping that the King will get nervous or uneasy, meaning that he really did murder King Hamlet
What does Hamlet ask Horatio to do during the play?
He asks Horatio to watch Claudius to see his guilt
What does Hamlet think of Horatio’s judgement? Of Horatio in general?
(“Sh’ hath sealed thee for herself (kings property marked with a seal) for thou hast been as one in suffering all that suffers nothing… and blest are those whose blood (passion) and judgment are so well co-meddled (commingled)…”) In short: really likes Horatio and his judgement
What kinds of comments does Hamlet make to Ophelia during the play within a play?
He calls her attractive, asks if he can lay in her lap, says that there is hope that people might remember a great man for 6 months, says the prologue is as brief as a woman’s love, accuses Ophelia of making a puppet show of love
Why might Hamlet speak to Ophelia as he does?
I think Hamlet talks this way to Ophelia because he is curious to know some things about her.
What is the actual name of the play within the play? What other name does Hamlet give it?
The actual name of the play is “The mouse-trap” (I think the other part of this question is referring to the “Murther of Gonzago” but I don’t know for sure)
Why does Hamlet give the play this name? What does the play reveal to be true?
Hamlet is trying to “trap” the king, it reveals that the king is truly guilty
What instrument does Hamlet command Guildenstern to play?
He commands Guildenstern to play the recorder (or sometimes he calls it the “pipe”)
Why does Hamlet demand that Guildenstern play the instrument? What point does Hamlet want to make to Guildenstern?
He wants Guildenstern to make a fool of himself, just as Guildenstern tried to make a fool out of Hamlet. Hamlet says “Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?”
What does Hamlet caution himself against doing before going to his mother’s chamber?
He cautions himself against hurting his mother
What is Hamlet’s mood just before going to his mother’s chamber?
He’s kind of pumped up now that he knows the truth about Claudius, he is ready to be cruel
What is Claudius attempting to do when Hamlet discovers him, alone and unguarded? Why doesn’t Hamlet kill Claudius at this point?
Claudius is attempting to pray. Hamlet doesn’t kill him then, because he believes that if he killed him during prayer, he would go to heaven, and he doesn’t want that
Considering Claudius’s final lines in Act III Scene III, what is ironic about Hamlet’s decision not to kill Claudius at this point?
(“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below”) Although Claudius was praying and trying to repent, Claudius still thinks it was worth it to do what he did, and did not repent. He only feels a little bit of guilt.
Where does Polonius hide? Why does he do this? What happens to him?
Polonius hides behind the curtain, he wants to listen in on Gertrude and Hamlet’s discussion, he gets killed by Hamlet after Polonius thought that Gertrude was going to get hurt and he called for help, Hamlet thought it was Claudius behind the curtain
Does Polonius deserve the fate that he receives?
Polonius does not deserve the fate that he receives. This is because Hamlet killed him instead of helping him.
Of what does Hamlet accuse his mother? What two people does he ask her to compare? How does his mother react to her son’s comments?
He accuses her of doing something very sinful (the book isn’t very specific on this), he asks her to compare King Hamlet to Claudius, Gertrude is horrified (“These words like daggers enter my ears”)
Why does Gertrude feel as she does? What troubles her about her own actions?
Gertrude just doesn’t understand why her son is criticizing her. So, she starts to feel very embarrassed by what he tells her.
Who appears to Hamlet while the prince is speaking with his mother? What reason does this figure give for appearing at this time?
The ghost appears to remind Hamlet to not hurt Gertrude and to only speak to her
What conclusion does Gertrude draw from her son’s conversation with this figure? At the end of the scene, do you think that Gertrude still believes this conclusion to be true?
She thinks that Hamlet is crazy and that the ghost was a creation of Hamlet’s mind. Hamlet tells Gertrude that his madness is only fake, but I’m not sure if she believes him or not
What does Hamlet say will be the consequence of his action in his mother’s room?
He says that things have to get worse before they get better. Hamlet also says that he was supposed to kill Polonius (“heaven hath pleas’d it so…”)
How does Hamlet intend to deal with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, given what he says at the end of the act?
He changed something with the letters, and says that his “school fellows” will sweep the way for him
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