Hamlet Act 1 Study Guide

question

Who is on guard duty? Where?
answer

Bernardo and Francisco, Marcellus, and Horatio; the entrance to the border between Denmark and Norway
question

How many times has the Ghost previously appeared?
answer

2 times
question

After failing to get any information from the Ghost, what action does Horatio propose?
answer

tell Hamlet
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Why has Horatio been asked to keep watch with the guards?
answer

he is a scholar; to make sure they aren’t lying
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What is the political situation in Denmark and Norway that has caused the present state of national unrest?
answer

Old King Hamlet killed the King of Norway –> the son is planning revenge
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What superstitions about ghosts are revealed in the behavior and conversation of Horatio and the guards?
answer

they are a bad omen; they mean that there is unrest in the country, a disruption in nature
question

What three matters of business does King Claudius take up at his first Council session?
answer

he announces his marriage to Gertrude and explains why is was fast he allows Laertes to return to France and holds Hamlet back He dispatches ambassadors to Norway to stop Fortinabras’ attack
question

After Horatio and the guards tell him they have seen his father’s ghost, what further action does Hamlet propose?
answer

he wants to speak to it; don’t tell anyone
question

How does Claudius word his speech to the court so as to win approval for his hasty marriage and takeover of the throne?
answer

he tries to balance the sadness with happiness
question

Why is Laertes, but not Hamlet, permitted to leave Denmark?
answer

he wants to keep an eye on Hamlet; keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer
question

Why are Claudius and Gertrude critical of Hamlet’s dress and behavior? What is Hamlet’s response?
answer

they see that he is always wearing black and they think that his mourning is inappropriate; \”I’ve been in the sun too much\”
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How does Hamlet show contempt for Claudius?
answer

he refuses to recognize their marriage
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A soliloquy is a dramatic convention in which a character voices thoughts while alone on stage. What does Hamlet’s first soliloquy reveal about his state of mind and the real reasons for it?
answer

He is sad and hopeless; he hates that his mother remarried two months after his father’s death
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What is Hamlet’s reaction to the news brought to him by Horatio and the guards?
answer

he wants to speak to the ghost; he is excited
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What event brings the family of Polonius together in this scene?
answer

they are seeing Laertes off on his voyage
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What command does Laertes give Ophelia concerning Hamlet?
answer

Be careful around Hamlet, he has a right to court anyone he likes, he owes his duty to the state
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The main action in Scene 3 is the giving of advice. What is Laertes’s advice to Ophelia?
answer

stay on your guard
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What is Ophelia’s advice to Laertes?
answer

follow your own advice
question

Judging by his words and actions in Scene 3, what kind of person does Polonius reveal himself to be?
answer

he is mainly concerned with reputation and appearances
question

What is going on in the castle while Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus await the ghost?
answer

Claudius is drinking and partying
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What do Horatio and Marcellus fear will happen to Hamlet if he follows the Ghost?
answer

it will lead him into destruction
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Explain Hamlet’s comparison between the state and an individual. What motivates him to make these remarks?
answer

he says that Denmark’s people ar drunkards – a tiny spot of evil ruins reputations; Claudius’ drinking
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How does Hamlet manage to break away from his companions in order to be alone with the Ghost? What is his emotional state?
answer

he threatens to kill anyone who tries to stop him
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What does the Ghost reveal to be the true circumstances of his death?
answer

Claudius killed him to be king
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What is Hamlet told about Gertrude’s past behavior with Claudius?
answer

she has been seduced by Claudius
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What does Hamlet make Horatio and Marcellus promise?
answer

don’t tell anyone what they saw
question

How does Shakespeare establish a supernatural aura about the figure of the Ghost?
answer

he describes how miserable and unnatural it is
question

List the three specific commands of the Ghost to Hamlet.
answer

seek revenge, don’t corrupt his mind, don’t harm his mother
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Overall, how does Hamlet regard the Ghost and the tasks he has been assigned?
answer

he takes it seriously and has an intense passion to follow it through
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What reasons might there be for Hamlet’s humorous treatment of the Ghost once he has been rejoined by his companions?
answer

he doesn’t want them to worry about him
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What change in behavior in the future does Hamlet prepare us to expect?
answer

he will act strange (crazy)
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A great deal happens in Act 1. What is the actual timespan of this act?
answer

1 day
question

What does Hamlet promise the Ghost?
answer

he will remember the ghost
question

Hamlet is surrounded by people who habitually mask their true selves. Which characters are clearly not what they seem to be?
answer

Claudius and Gertrude
question

What dramatic effect is created by having the Ghost appear first to the soldiers, then to Horatio and then finally to Hamlet?
answer

suspense
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What future events does Act 1 prepare us to anticipate?
answer

Hamlet’s revenge; Claudius’ death

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