Finished Hamlet

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  • 8/8/2019 Finished Hamlet

    1/14

    HAMLET STUDY GUIDE

    ACT 1

    Scene 1

    The play opens during a bitterly cold night watch outside of the royal Danish palace calledEl Sinor. There is a changing of the guards: Bernardo replaces Francisco. Soon two more

    characters arrive, Horatio and Marcellus. Last 2 nights Bernardo says tells Horatio they have

    seen an apparition, thinking its Old Hamlet, and Horatio says it is not real (voice of reason).

    On this third night (patterns of 3). they are talking about the ghost again. Suddenly, it does. The

    two soldiers charge Horatio to speak to the ghost but he does not. The ghost disappears just as

    suddenly as it arrived. Horatio says the ghost is wearing the same armor he did when he fought

    Norway (ghost might be a foreshadowing that Norway/Fortinbras is coming). Horatio says

    the ghost might be here to warn Denmark.

    Bernardo asked Horatio to come because if Horatio says the ghost is real it must be

    real.

    Soon after the ghosts disappearance, Marcellus asks why he is guarding the city of Denmark.

    Horatio answers, saying that the Danish army is preparing for a possible invasion by Fortinbras,

    Prince of Norway. We learn that Fortinbras father (also named Fortinbras), was killed many

    years before in single combat with Old Hamlet, the now-deceased king whose ghost we have

    just seen. Now that Old Hamlet has died, presumably weakening the Danes, there is a rumor

    that Fortinbras plans to invade Denmark and claim that lands that were forfeit after his fathers

    death. Fortinbras has made an army of mercenaries. ALLUSION: Julius Caesar, the omens

    before he died.

    After Horatio has finished explaining this political backstory, the ghost of Old Hamlet appears

    once more. This time Horatio does try to speak to the ghost. When the ghost remains silent,Horatio tells Marcellus and Bernardo to try to detain it; they strike at the ghost with their

    spears but jab only air. A rooster crows just as the ghost appears ready to reply to Horatio at

    last (superstition: cockcrows all night keeping bad spirits away). This sound startles the

    ghost away. Horatio decides to tell Prince Hamlet, Old Hamlets son, about the apparition, and

    the others agree.

    Scene 2

    This scene begins at the court ofClaudius and Gertrude, the King and Queen of Denmark.

    It is a public event. They have just been married. This marriage has followed quickly after the

    death of the former King of Denmark, Old Hamlet, Claudius brother. Claudius addresses thequickness of the marriage, representing himself as in mourning for a lost brother even as he is

    joyful for a new wife. Claudius also addresses the question of the young Fortinbras proposed

    invasion. He says that he has spoken to Fortinbras uncle, the King of Norway, who has

    made Fortinbras promise to halt any plans to invade Denmark. Claudius sends Cornelius

    and Voltemand, two courtiers, to Norway to settle this business. Finally, Claudius turns

    to Laertes, the son of his trusted counselor, Polonius. Laertes expresses a wish to return to

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