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___________________________Hamlet by Shakespeare


STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES

Hamlet

Act Three, Scene One

In the hope of discovering the reasons for Hamlet’s distress, the king and queen decide to engineer a meeting between him and Ophelia. Polonius asks her to pretend to be alone whilst he and the king hide behind a tapestry. Hamlet enters and declaims his famous monologue, ‘To be or not to be’, up until the moment he notices Ophelia. He denies any love for her and advises her not to marry and to enter a convent instead. Claudius now starts to believe that Hamlet’s madness is not due to unrequited love and suspects that he might pose a threat to his crown. He decides to get him out of the way by sending him to England. Polonius suggests one final attempt at discovering the reasons for Hamlet’s behavior by arranging a meeting with his mother, Gertrude.

 

Act Three, Scene Two

Having given his instructions to the actors, Hamlet asks Horatio to observe the reactions of the king during the performance. The king, queen and their court attend the performance. Hamlet, his head on Ophelia’s knees, prepares to make comments to her about the play, which is preceded by a mimed summary of the action, followed by some words addressed to the public by a character called ‘Prologue’. The spoken play itself begins, stressing the themes of treason, murder and incest. At the moment Lucianus pours poison into the ear of the king Claudius rises and leaves the hall in anger, even though Hamlet had forewarned him that the play would deal with the murder of Duke Gonzago in Vienna.
Hamlet now believes he has received conformation that his father was murdered. The king sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then Polonius, to convey his mother’s wish that they speak with each other. Hamlet declares his intention to wreak vengeance on the king but decides not to take it out on his mother other than in words.

 

Act Three, Scene Three

Claudius charges Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with escorting Hamlet to England. Polonius goes to spy on Hamlet’s meeting with the queen. Left alone, the king experiences remorse for his actions, and gets down on his knees to pray and ask for forgiveness for his sins. Hamlet enters and could easily kill the king, but refuses the opportunity as the king would go to heaven if killed whilst praying.

 

Act Three, Scene Four

Polonius, hidden behind a hanging curtain, overhears the conversation between Gertrude and Hamlet. Hamlet’s wild behavior and manner so frighten the queen that she cries out for assistance. When Polonius makes a move, betraying his presence, Hamlet kills him, believing him to be the king. He then admonishes the queen for her unworthy behavior and loss of virtue. The ghost of the dead king arrives and urges Hamlet to seek vengeance against the king but not to add to the suffering of his mother.

Hamlet asks his mother to stop sharing Claudius’ bed, then shifts slightly and suggests she meet and inform him of what has happened. He leaves the room, dragging behind him the dead body of Polonius.

 

  • Biography of Willaim Shakespeare

  • About the Play

  • Quick/Fast Review

  • Character List

  • Summary of Act 1

  • Review of Act 1

  • Summary of Act 2

  • Review of Act 2

  • Summary of Act 3

  • Review of Act 3

  • Summary of Act 4

  • Review of Act 4

  • Summary of Act 5

  • Review of Act 5

  • Studyworld Essay Search on Hamlet


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