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all about hamlet
Hamlet, baby, Hamlet! You gotta love him, and the play that's named after him! Get ready to check out the original rebel with a cause, the great Dane himself, you know him, you don't know him—I give you the one, the only, world-famous man of a thousand faces—Prince Hamlet…
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  1. "Who's there?" (Plot Synopsis)
  2. Elements of the Play
    1. Mystery
      1. The ghost
    2. Hamlet's Character
      1. Foils to Hamlet
      2. Depth of character
    3. Philosophy
      1. Three deep questions
    4. Revenge
      1. General pattern of revenge plays
      2. Different interpretations
    5. Tragedy
      1. Is Hamlet a tragic figure?

1. What's the first line of Hamlet?
a) "Who's there?"
b) "To be or not to be..."
c) "Long live the King!"
d) "Where is this sight?"

2. Who is the ghost in Hamlet?
a) A dead soldier
b) The Future Spirit
c) Prince Hamlet's father
d) Space Ghost

3. Which of the following is a character found in Hamlet?
a) Iago
b) Banquo
c) Horatio
d) Henry V

4. True or false: Hamlet says the famous line, "To be or not to be, that is the question."

5. True or false: At the beginning of Hamlet, Hamlet is mourning the death of his mother, the Queen of Denmark.

6. One of the elements of the tragic figure, according to Aristotle, is that they face uncommon suffering with uncommon:
a) agility
b) indifference
c) dignity
d) timidity

7. Which one of the following Shakespeare plays is NOT considered a tragedy?
a) Twelfth Night
b) Hamlet
c) Othello
d) Macbeth

8. Claudius is Hamlet's:
a) brother
b) friend
c) uncle
d) son

9. True or false: Tragedies of the Middle Ages are different from Elizabethan tragedies in that they were written as dramatic plays rather then teaching stories.

10. Generally speaking, Shakespeare wrote __ tragedies.
a) 5
b) 10
c) 15
d) 1 gazillion

11. True or false: Shakespeare's plays were not performed during his lifetime.

12. True or false: Shakespeare often wrote in a poetic form known as "iambic pentameter."

13. Probably the most famous tragedy ever written in the English language is:
a) Macbeth
b) Oedipus Rex
c) Romeo and Juliet
d) Hamlet

14. True or false: Among other things, stoics believe people should be impassive to pain and suffering.

15. Which of these characters is alive at the end of Hamlet?
a) Hamlet
b) Queen Gertrude
c) Laertes
d) Claudius
e) None of the above

Click here to see the answers.
something to consider
1. The first line in Hamlet is from the sentinel, Barnardo: "Who's there?" How does this line help set the tone for the play?

2. Why does Hamlet kill Polonius? Is it completely an accident, or is there something more complex going on?

3. Do you view Hamlet as a human who succumbs to the darker parts of his humanity, or as something beyond human, like an agent of Providence?

4. What parts of Hamlet's character can you relate to your own?

5. Was the death of Claudius and the avenging of Hamlet's father worth the death of Hamlet, Gertrude, and Laertes? What message do you get from the outcome of the play?

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In Shakespeare's day, patrons of the Globe Theater who could not afford swanky balcony seats had no choice but to stand on the bare ground in front of the stage for the duration of a performance. Because of this, these sore-footed theater-goers earned themselves the nickname "groundlings."

top ten
Top 10 Ways Shakespeare Likes to End His Tragedies

10. Everybody dies.

9. Everybody dies.

8. Everybody dies.

7. Everybody dies except for this one gal who, after seeing that everyone else is dead, immediately grabs a dagger and kills herself. Soo..everybody dies.

6. Everybody dies.

5. Everybody learns a valuable lesson about life and pledges to work towards a better tomorrow full of hope and happiness and joy and life. (Just kidding! Everybody dies.)

4. Everybody dies.

3. The hero saves the day, the villain is defeated, peace is restored to the Kingdom, then everybody dies.

2. Everybody dies.

1. The End.
Claudius — The new king of Denmark. He's a lot of things to a lot of people: he's Hamlet's uncle, Gertrude's new husband, and the late king's brother.

Elsinore — The royal castle of Denmark. This is where most of the action of the play occurs.

Foil — A character who acts as a contrast to another character.

Fortinbras — Prince of Norway. Hamlet's father killed his father in battle. He enters at play's end to take control of Denmark.

Gertrude — The queen. She's Hamlet's mother, was formerly married to the late king, but now married to the new king, Claudius.

Hamlet — Prince of Denmark, son of the late king, Gertrude's son, Claudius's nephew.

Horatio — Hamlet's buddy, who sticks with the prince through thick and thin. He's one of the few main characters that remains alive at the end of the play.

Laertes — Polonius's son and Ophelia's brother.

Ophelia — Polonius's daughter, also Hamlet's girlfriend.

Polonius — Claudius's right-hand man, father to Laertes and Ophelia.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — School chums of Hamlet, they travel to Elsinore at the behest of Claudius.

Tragedy — A form of dramatic art which follows the fall, pain, and suffering of the tragic figure.

Explore some Hamlet and Shakespeare-related websites. Remember, you will be leaving the Standard Deviants TV website.
Check out a version of Hamlet written in the Star Trek language of Klingon. Live long and prosper!

Search all of William Shakespeare's works!

Check out an entire library dedicated to Shakespeare and Elizabethan life.

Explore the NEW Globe Theater!

Find out what life was like in Elizabethan England!

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