Hamlet Questions Study Guide

question

1. Identify Bernardo, Francisco, Marcellus, Horatio, and King Hamlet.
answer

Bernardo, Francisco and Marcellus are guard soldiers at Elsinore. Horatio is Hamlet’s friend. King Hamlet is Hamlet’s father who was murdered prior to the beginning of the play.
question

2. What had Bernardo seen at a prior watch?
answer

king hamlet’s ghost
question

3. Why does Marcellus think Horatio should speak to the ghost?
answer

Horatio was a scholar who should know the proper way to address a ghost.
question

4. What does young Fortinbras want to do?
answer

Young Fortinbras wants to regain the lands his father had lost.
question

5. Who do the soldiers/guards want to tell about the ghost?
answer

hamlet
question

6. Identify King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Laertes, and Polonius.
answer

King Claudius is King Hamlet’s brother, Hamlet’s uncle. He came to the throne and married King Hamlet’s wife after King Hamlet’s death. Queen Gertrude is Hamlet’s mother. Laertes is Polonius’ son. Polonius is Lord Chamberlain.
question

7. Where does Claudius send Cornelius and Voltimand?
answer

He sends them to the King of Norway with letters asking the King to try to keep young Fortinbras from going to battle.
question

what does the king tell hamlet?
answer

He tells Hamlet that Hamlet should not grieve so deeply for his father’s death; it is time to think of other things. He says he wants Hamlet to think of him as his father and to remain at cheerful Elsinore for a while longer.
question

9. Hamlet is upset for two reasons. What are they?
answer

His father has died, and his uncle has married his mother less than two months after his father’s death. It was not a respectable period of time to wait, besides which the marriage in Hamlet’s time was considered incestuous.
question

10. What news does Horatio bring Hamlet?
answer

Horatio tells Hamlet of King Hamlet’s ghost.
question

11. What does Hamlet decide to do after he hears Horatio’s news?
answer

He decides to go on watch with the guards at midnight in hopes of seeing the ghost himself.
question

12. What is Laertes’ advice to Ophelia?
answer

He warns her to stay away from Hamlet and tells her to protect her virtue.
question

13. What is Polonius’ advice to Laertes?
answer

Polonius tells Laertes to not always voice his thoughts, to be familiar but not vulgar, to hold on to his closest friends, to beware of getting into quarrels, to listen to everyone but not to always give advice, to listen to others’ opinions without always judging them, to buy good clothes, to not be a borrower or lender, and above all else, to his own self be true.
question

14. At the end of Scene III, Ophelia agrees to “obey.” What will she do?
answer

She agrees to obey Polonius’ wish that she would stay away from Hamlet and reject his affections.
question

15. What did the ghost tell Hamlet?
answer

The ghost told Hamlet that King Hamlet was murdered by Claudius, and it asked Hamlet to avenge the murder.
question

16. Hamlet swears Horatio to two things. What are they?
answer

He swears him to secrecy about the events of this evening (seeing the ghost) and to go along with him should he pretend to be crazy.
question

Where does Polonius send Reynaldo? Why?
answer

Polonius sends Reynaldo to Paris to spy on Laertes and to take him money and messages.
question

2. Why does Polonius think Hamlet is “mad”?
answer

He thinks Ophelia’s rejections have been too much for Hamlet, that Hamlet is love-sick.
question

Why have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to the castle?
answer

They have come to find out why Hamlet is acting so strangely and to report their findings to the King.
question

What is Polonius’ plan for testing his theory that Hamlet is love-crazy? What is Polonius’ plan for testing his theory that Hamlet is love-crazy?
answer

He wants to have Hamlet meet Ophelia. He (Polonius) will hide and eavesdrop on the conversation to determine whether or not Hamlet is love-sick.
question

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern finally meet with Hamlet, and Hamlet discovers they were sent for by the King. How does Hamlet describe his personal problems to them? What does he tell them?
answer

Hamlet basically says that he thought the world was wonderful and man was the most wonderful part of the world, but now he finds that things are not wonderful. He finds no delight in man or woman.
question

What arrangement does Hamlet make with Player 1?
answer

He arranges to have several of his own lines put into the play (to make the action of the play as closely related to the actual events of his father’s murder as possible).
question

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave Hamlet, what does he basically say in his soliloquy?
answer

He thinks himself a coward for not getting right to the revenge.
question

What message do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carry to the King? What is the King’s response?
answer

They tell him Hamlet wishes the King and Queen to see the play. The King gladly accepts.
question

Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy is in scene one. In a sentence or two paraphrase his main points.
answer

He is pondering whether a miserable life is better than the unknown of death.
question

Describe Hamlet’s tone when he speaks to Ophelia.
answer

He is really quite rude and aggressive.
question

What do the King and Polonius decide about Hamlet’s condition after eavesdropping on Hamlet and Ophelia?
answer

They decide he is not love-sick; rather, he has some other trouble deep in his soul.
question

Why does Hamlet give instructions to the players?
answer

Hamlet does not want the parts to be over-acted. He wants it to appear as natural and as real as possible so it will hit home to the King.
question

What was the King’s reaction to the play, and what did Hamlet and Horatio decide his reaction meant?
answer

The King got up and called for the lights. Hamlet and Horatio were convinced that the ghost was right, that Claudius had murdered King Hamlet.
question

What message does Rosencrantz deliver from the Queen?
answer

He told Hamlet that the Queen wanted to see him.
question

The King has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prepare to do what? Why?
answer

He has them prepare to take Hamlet to England. Claudius is beginning to feel threatened by Hamlet, and he wants him away from Elsinore. In fact, he wants Hamlet dead.
question

Why doesn’t Hamlet kill the King when the King is kneeling?
answer

Hamlet wants the King to die without a chance for a last confession, as his father died. He thinks if the King is praying, he may not be in sin enough to get eternal punishment.
question

How does Polonius die?
answer

Polonius is in the Queen’s room while she and Hamlet are talking. He hides behind the tapestry but makes some noise. Hamlet runs through the tapestry with his sword (actually thinking Claudius might be there), killing Polonius.
question

11. What would Hamlet have his mother do?
answer

He wants her to at least not sleep with the King.
question

What does Hamlet think of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
answer

He uses the word “sponge” to describe them, saying they soak up the King’s words, commands and gifts. He thinks they are weak and not smart enough to see that they are being used by the King.
question

Why must the king “not put the strong arm on” Hamlet?
answer

Hamlet’s mother truly loves him and would want no harm to come to him, and the people of Denmark love him and would be uneasy if something would happen to him.
question

When the King asks Hamlet where Polonius is, what is Hamlet’s answer?
answer

First he says Polonius is “not where he eats, but where he is eaten.” Then he later tells the King to look for him in Heaven, and if he can’t find Polonius there, to go to “the other place” (hell) himself.
question

What is the content of the letters the King sends with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to England with Hamlet?
answer

The King wants Hamlet to be killed as soon as he reaches England.
question

What prompts Hamlet to say, “My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!”?
answer

He realizes his father has been murdered, his uncle is a murderer, his mother is living in an incestuous marriage, and the soldiers he has just seen are going to kill each other over a little piece of land which is not worth anything.
question

What has happened to Ophelia?
answer

Ophelia has gone crazy.
question

Why does Laertes force his way in? What does he want?
answer

Laertes wants revenge for his father’s death.
question

What is the content of Hamlet’s letter to Horatio?
answer

He explains that he escaped from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern onto a pirate ship. He is a prisoner, but is being treated well because the pirates want favors from him. He wants Horatio to give letters he has written to the King and Queen and then to come to see him as quickly as possible.
question

What plan do the King and Laertes discuss to kill Hamlet? What plan do the King and Laertes discuss to kill Hamlet?
answer

They plan to set up a duel between Laertes and Hamlet in which Laertes will honorably kill Hamlet, or if Hamlet lives, the King will poison him.
question

What news does the Queen bring Laertes?
answer

She tells him that Ophelia is dead; she has drowned.
question

Laertes thinks that Ophelia should have a better funeral service. What is the priest’s answer?
answer

The priest more or less says that Ophelia is lucky to be getting as nice of a funeral as she is, considering the nature of her death.
question

Why does Hamlet jump into Ophelia’s grave?
answer

He shows that his sorrow is as great as Laertes’.
question

What does the King say to Laertes to console him after Laertes and Hamlet are separated?
answer

He tells Laertes not to worry, that he (Laertes) will soon have the appropriate time and place to kill Hamlet, and that one way or another, Hamlet will die.
question

What did Hamlet do to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
answer

Hamlet replaced their letters (which called for Hamlet’s execution) with letters which called for the execution of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
question

What news does Osric bring Hamlet?
answer

He tells Hamlet of the wager the King has made on Hamlet’s behalf in a contest between Laertes and Hamlet.
question

What happens to the King, Hamlet, Laertes, and the Queen?
answer

The King is run through and killed by Hamlet. Hamlet is killed by the poison on Laertes’ sword. Laertes is killed by the poison on his own sword. The Queen is poisoned and killed by the drink the King had prepared for Hamlet.
question

Who does Hamlet recommend to the throne?
answer

Hamlet recommends Young Fortinbras.
question

hamlet
answer

The Prince of Denmark, the title character, and the protagonist. About thirty years old at the start of the play, Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and the nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet is melancholy, bitter, and cynical, full of hatred for his uncle’s scheming and disgust for his mother’s sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man who has studied at the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant, but at other times prone to rash and impulsive acts.
question

gertrude
answer

The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who seeks affection and status more urgently than moral rectitude or truth.
question

ophelia
answer

Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. Ophelia is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet. Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river amid the flower garlands she had gathered.
question

fortinbras
answer

The young Prince of Norway, whose father the king (also named Fortinbras) was killed by Hamlet’s father (also named Hamlet). Now Fortinbras wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honor, making him another foil for Prince Hamlet.
question

rosencrantz and guildenstern
answer

Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior.
question

orsic
answer

The foolish courtier who summons Hamlet to his duel with Laertes.
question

voltimand and cornelius
answer

Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.
question

reynaldo
answer

Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes.

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member