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Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Summary

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1. How important is the overall setting of Denmark to the play?

The overall setting of Denmark portrayed a secluded social and political landscape; hence it provided a perfect setting that brings out the main character’s feeling of being imprisoned. Denmark’s history, together with the interest that the country attracted, made it easy for Shakespeare to attract a large audience for his play.

2. What is the role and significance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the play?

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s role in the play was solely to spy on Hamlet. They are portrayed is incapable of working independently; they are incompetent and dishonest. Their significance in the play is to bring up the theme of betrayal; despite the fact that they grew up together with Hamlet, they unconditionally agreed to spy on their old friend. They also help to bring out Hamlet’s inconsistent decision making. He did not hesitate to get rid of them even though he did not have to, and yet he did not kill Claudius who gave him all the reasons to terminate him.

3. Of what significance is Ophelia to Hamlet? Was Hamlet truly in love with Ophelia?

Ophelia brings out Hamlet’s perception of the female gender. He perceives women as heartless sex predators with multiple personalities. Ophelia also brings out the true innocence that women had in the play. Hamlet loved Ophelia truly; Act 2, sc. 1 describes how he went to her when he was distressed. He did not even need to talk; he just looked at her (Amanda Mabillard). In addition, he jumped into her grave and openly professed his love for her. This is an indication of how much he loved her.

4. What is Horatio’s role and significance in the play?

Horatio serves to bring out the theme of true friendship, honesty, and loyalty. His role as Hamlet’s best friend and confidant make him the perfect character to tell Hamlet’s life story. He is the perfect person that Hamlet wished to be; he easily trusts people, stands by the truth, and is willing to take life-threatening risks for the people he loved.

Soliloquies and Important lines

1. Act I, Scene II, lines 131-161(I.ii 131-161). What is Hamlet saying about his mother, Gertrude?

Hamlet is complaining over the apparent speed with which his mother, Gertrude, has moved to replace his late father. He is unhappy with his mother for marrying Claudius, his uncle. At first, he is angered, then it changes to fear; he sees no good coming out of his mother’s marriage to his uncle.

2. I.iii.1-47. What advice does Laertes offer his sister, Ophelia?

Laertes advice Ophelia against taking Prince Hamlet’s love seriously. He reminds her that most royal weddings are merely meant to portray a good image of the state. He goes ahead to remind her that the class difference between them does not allow Hamlet to love her sincerely.

3. I.v.47-96. What does the Ghost (Hamlets father)reveal to Hamlet about how he was murdered and what does he ask of Hamlet concerning Gertrude?

Hamlet’s father’s ghost reveals to him that it was his uncle Claudius who murdered the old king. The ghost lets Hamlet know that Claudius poured poison in his father’s ears and killed him so that he, Claudius, could have Gertrude’s love. The ghost asks Hamlet to spare Gertrude, stating that she will get her punishment in heaven.

4. II.i.83-131. Briefly summarize the conversation between Ophelia and her father, Polonius.

Ophelia and Polonius’ conversation revolves around the cause of Hamlet’s weird behavior; he had accosted Ophelia. Polonius says that the fact that he had forbidden Ophelia from seeing him must have made him sick of love.

5. II.ii.510-545. Summarize the thoughts and plans of Hamlet in this soliloquy.

Hamlet thinks about his uncle’s hypocrisy and his own cowardice. Claudius mourned King Hamlet’s death, yet he was responsible for it. On the other hand, Hamlet is mad at himself since he cannot gather enough courage to avenge his father’s death.

6. III.i.63-97. Summarize the “To be or not to be” speech of Hamlet.

Hamlet is debating whether it is better to face life’s challenges by ignoring them, or to fight them, perhaps by committing suicide. However, he is worried about the uncertainties with which death is associated. He is not sure whether he will have peace in death; a fact that he claims to make people like him hang on to life.

Works Cited
Mabillard, Amanda. Ophelia. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. Web. 12 Oct. 2012

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