Hamlet Study Guide

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Hamlet – religious and philosophical, thinker not doer, moral character, scruple, multidimesional Claudius – King of Denmark, killed Hamlet’s father to usurp the throne. Decisive and manipulative. Gertrude – wife of Claudius and former wife of Hamlet’s father. Smart and sneaky. Polonius – father of Ophelia and Laertes, subservient, want to win favor of King, spy, verbose Laertes – Ophelia’s brother, hot-headed, honorable man, likes to party, easily manipulated by king Ophelia – unintelligent lover of Hamlet, physical relationship. Daughter of Polonius. Horatio – Responsible, caring friend of Hamlet

Fortinbras – Prince of Norway, hot-headed and military man, doer, not thinker (foil to Hamlet) Rosencranz and Guildenstern – Hamlet’s old friends who spy on Hamlet at the king’s request (backstabbers) Themes

What does Shakespeare think of revenge?
Looking for vengeance is self-destructive, and those who don’t seek revenge end up benefiting.

What does Shakespeare say about being a good leader?
A great leader takes action quickly, but only when it is wise and opportune to do so.

What does Shakespeare say about staying true to one self? (“To thine own self be true” – Polonius said to Laertes) Non-vile characters who are true to themselves end up having fulfilling lives. (no idea??) -Hamlet is not true to himself (this is his flaw). He is an educated and religious man not capable of being a murderer. -Fortinbras stays true to himself (as a military man), and ends up benefiting. -Laertes stays true to himself (as an honorable man), and forgives Hamlet at the end, squealing on Claudius) -Claudius is true to himself, but has no honor.

Idea of Hamlet as a Classical Tragic Hero
-Tragic flaw: elevated character who falls from great height -Too religious and philosophical, not a hothead
-He is a sweet man, not a murderer

“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” – Hamlet says we continue living because we are scared about what would...
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