Hamlet Qs Acts II and III–12 questions. Allow yourself plenty of time

Answer these questions in enough detail to show your complete understanding. Please include the questions with your answers.

Act II

1. Why does this act open with Polonius and Reynaldo? What does this tell us about Polonius’s character, and what theme or motif does it introduce in the play?
2. How does the interaction between Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern help to explain what’s wrong with Hamlet? Why are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Denmark?
3. Hamlet’s “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I” is the first of his soliloquies. What is he saying, and how does this set of words help to move him to action?
4. What does he decide to do at the end of this speech?

Act III

1. What is the subject of Hamlet’s second soliloquy, the famous “To be or not to be” speech?
2. Why is he so cruel to Ophelia immediately thereafter?
3. What happens in the “play-within-a-play”? How do the speeches and actions reflect on events in the kingdom of Denmark?
4. How does the king (Claudius) respond?
5. In what way is Hamlet’s second major interaction with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (<link is hidden> different from his first encounter with them?
6. Why does Hamlet decline to take action against Claudius in <link is hidden> /> 7. What happens in <link is hidden> (the closet scene)? Why is this death so important for the play, or what does the death of this figure represent?
8. Based on what you’ve seen in <link is hidden> do you think Gertrude knew about the murder?

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