Your first goal today is to solidify your knowledge of the characters in Hamlet. To that end, here is a handy little chart provided by the creator of the amazing website, goodticklebrain.com.
Pretty great, huh?
Yesterday, I asked you to read over Hamlet’s first soliloquy, found in I.ii. What is Hamlet’s state of mind? How do you know? What else is revealed in this soliloquy? How do you think Hamlet’s thoughts at this moment will move the action of the play forward? And why the tongue-holding?
In I.iii, lovingly referred to as the advice scene. Polonius gives some guidance to his Laertes. But before that, Ophelia gives some advice to Laertes. And before that, Laertes gives some advice to Ophelia. Oh, and just to round things out, Polonius gives some advice to Ophelia at the end of the scene. Let’s make some sense out this, shall we?
Finally, the ghost.
By the end of the first act, Hamlet has seen and conversed with his father’s ghost. In Scene Four, Hamlet does not know how to react to the appearance of the ghost. In Elizabethan times, there were two warring religious belief systems surrounding the afterlife. Catholics believed that upon death, one’s soul went to heaven, hell, or purgatory, but everyone had the chance to cleanse their soul and enter heaven. Protestants believed that the dead stayed dead until Christ came back on the day of judgment, which meant their soul was damned until Christ returned. Hamlet cannot distinguish whether his father is appearing to harm or help him.
In Scene Five, the ghost finally reveals his purpose and demands that Hamlet avenge his untimely death. Hamlet is deeply distressed, but swears to do his father’s will. With the words, “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!” Hamlet sets to his task.