HONORS PS1500 - Physics in the Plays of Tom Stoppard

Hamlet Act 1 and Act 2, Scene 1 — Questions for Discussion

● Act 1, Scene 1 — Summary

    How do the opening lines set the mood of the play?

    What do we learn about Horatio?

● Act 1, Scene 2 — Summary

    Compare the characteristics of Claudius and Hamlet. Why might Claudius have been chosen as king over Hamlet? (The King of Denmark was elected to the throne by the nobility from members of the royal family.)

● Act 1, Scene 3 — Summary

    Describe the relationship of Polonius with his children Laertes and Ophilia.

    Describe the tone of Ophelia's responses to her brother (lines 49 — 55 and lines 92, 93).

● Act 1, Scene 4 — Summary

    What is the overall mood of this scene? Describe the different possibilities for the ghost's identity as discussed by Hamlet and Horatio.

● Act 1, Scene 5 — Summary

    How does the ghost describe himself and his fate?

    What does the ghost tell Hamlet, and command him to do? How does Hamlet react to the ghost's speech? Is Hamlet surprised to learn who murdered his father?

    How will Hamlet accept his task of revenge (with enthusiasm? caution? indifference?)

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (lines 187, 188). Are there still more things than are dreamt of in today’s philosophy? Will this always be true?

● Act 2, Scene 1 — Summary

    Lines 87 to 94: Why does Hamlet behave this way with Ophelia?

Acting Assignments for Hamlet

1. Act 1, Scene 5, lines 1 — 98 (Two parts: Hamlet and Ghost)

    Starts with Hamlet: Wither will thou lead me?

    Ends with Ghost: Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.

2. Act 2, Scene 1, lines 84 — 123 (Four parts: Polonius, Ophelia, and two mimes to show the actions described)

    Starts with Polonius: How now Ophelia, what’s the matter?

    Ends with Polonius: That hath made him mad.


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