1. What does Claudius admit to himself (and to the audience) about his crime?
2. List the personal grievances Hamlet expresses in his “To be or not to be soliloquy” and explain what specific events in Hamlet’s life they refer to.
3. What metaphor does Hamlet use in his “To be or not to be speech” to express his developing understanding of death? How does he further develop this metaphor?
4. What information does Ophelia provide about Hamlet’s character before the beginning of the play?
5. Explain the ambiguity (unclear nature) of the nunnery scene.
6. What is the main thrust of Hamlet’s diatribe against Ophelia?
7. Why does Shakespeare begin this scene with Hamlet offering acting lessons to the players? How does this advance the plot, develop character, or help to establish theme?
8. Why does Hamlet trust and admire Horatio?
9. What does Hamlet admit to Horatio and the audience just before the company arrives to view the play?
10. How does Hamlet’s speech pattern change when the others enter the room to view the play? Why?
11. Why does Hamlet speak to Ophelia in such vulgar terms?
12. What does Gertrude’s reaction to the play indicate?
13. How has the play-within-the-play changed Hamlet’s situation and influenced the action of the play?
14. How does Polonius’ spying on the scene between Hamlet and Gertrude indicate a change in Gertrude’s status.
15. In what paradox of salvation does Claudius feel trapped?
16. Why doesn’t Hamlet kill Claudius when he has the opportunity?
17. What is Hamlet’s reaction to the killing of Polonius?
18. What does this scene reveal about Gertrude’s guilt?
19. What aspect of Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage still clearly bothers Hamlet the most?
20. What is the significance of this second appearance of the ghost?