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Hamlet Review Guide

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Your Hamlet final exam will be on Thursday of this week. You will need to study the following terms, ideas, and themes. You will be expected to answer multiple choice questions, essay questions, and short answer questions.

Shakespearian Drama

● What is the difference between a comedy, tragedy, and history?
● Define catharsis, hubris, and nemesis. What is the relationship between these words?
● What are the characteristics of a tragedy?

● Define dramatic irony and soliloquy.
● Discuss the importance of dialogue in the play.

Act I

● What mood, or atmosphere, does Shakespeare establish in scene 1? Which details help create this mood?
● Analyze Hamlet’s interaction with Claudius in scene 2 and Ophelia’s interaction with Polonius in scene 3 – How are these interactions related and how are they dissimilar?

Act II

● In the opening scene of Act II how does Polonius want Reynaldo to check on Laertes’s conduct? What does this instruction suggest about Polonius’s character.
● Ophelia tells Polonius what took place when Hamlet visited her. Explain why this passage is an example of dramatic irony.

● In line 246 of scene 2, Hamlet says to Guildenstern, “Denmark’s a prison.” Ex plain that remark in the context of Hamlet’s present situation, considering also the role of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
● The play discussed by Hamlet and the players tells the story of Pyrrhus seeking revenge on Priam. What are the parallels between this tale and Hamlet’s own quest for revenge?
● At the end of Act II, Hamlet reveals his plan for testing Claudius’s guilt. Why might Shakespeare have chosen to have him use a theatrical performance for this purpose?


● Analyze Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship at the end of Act III Scene I – What conclusions can you draw from their interaction?
● Analyze the importance of Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act III Scene 1. What is Hamlet considering during this soliloquy? Consider the eloquence of his speech, the specific wording that he uses, his sufferings during his life, Hamlet’s mental state, etc.

● How do the events in this act drive the plot forward?
● You will need to be able to put the major events of this Act in order.

Act IV

● Hamlet sends two letters announcing his return to England, one to Horatio and one to Claudius. Why might Shakespeare have chosen to have him send the letter to Horatio even though it is not needed to advance the plot?
● Hamlet as already confided to his mother at the end of Act III that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been assigned to lead him into a trap. What does it suggest about his charact

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