Hamlet - Pennsbury School District

Act 1 notes
Setting: Elsinore, Denmark, late middle ages
 Characters:
Marcellus, Barnardo, Francisco
Conflict: Hamlet is struggling with the loss of his
father (internal); Hamlet must avenge his
father’s death (external)
The play open with a dark sense of foreboding;
the ghost has appeared three times at midnight
 The ghost looks exactly like the late King Hamlet
and will not speak to anyone but his son
 Horatio was skeptical of the ghost’s presence at
first, but it shocked when he actually sees the
ghost for himself
 The ghost is dressed in the same battle armor
that was worn when King Hamlet defeated King
Fortinbras of Norway (Prince Fortinbras wants to
reclaim his lands)
 King
Claudius addresses his subjects and tries
to show remorse over the loss of his brother
 Claudius grants permission to Laertes to
return to school in France; he does not allow
Hamlet to return to Wittenberg
 Both Claudius and Gertrude tell Hamlet that
he needs to get over his father’s death
 Hamlet expresses his disgust for his mother’s
hasty and incestuous marriage to his uncle
 Hamlet also reveals that the only thing
keeping him alive at this point is his beliefs
about suicide
 Laertes
prepares to say goodbye to both
Ophelia and Polonius as he plans to head
back to France
 Laertes warns Ophelia that Hamlet’s feelings
for her are not genuine and that he will not
choose her as a wife (compares his feeling to
 Polonius gives Laertes advice about how he
should behave when he returns to school
 Polonius forbids Ophelia to have any more
contact with Hamlet
 Horatio
reveals to Hamlet that he has seen
the ghost of his father
 Hamlet waits outside the castle later that
evening in hopes that the ghost will reappear
 The ghost does reappear and beckons Hamlet
to go privately to speak to it
 Horatio and the others do not want Hamlet
to go off alone with the ghost, but Hamlet
does so anyway
Hamlet speaks privately to the ghost
The ghost of King Hamlet reveals the details of his
death: he was poisoned in the ear by Claudius
The ghost explain that he will be “doomed to walk to
night” until his death is avenged
The ghost makes Hamlet promise to “leave his
mother to heaven”
Hamlet believes his life mission is to set things right
and avenge his father’s death; he makes a promise to
himself that he will fulfill his mission
Hamlet and the ghost make the others swear that
they will not reveal this information to anyone
Hamlet explains that for here on out, he will put on
an “antic disposition” (fake madness)
 “This
bodes some strange eruption to our
state” –Horatio, I.i.80
 “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would
melt/Thaw and resolve itself into a dew”
–Hamlet, I.ii.133-34
 “Frailty, thy name is woman!” –Hamlet,
 “This above all: to thine own self be true” –
Polonius, I.iii.84
 “Something is rotten in the state of
Denmark” –Marcellus, I.iv.100
 “The
serpent that did sting thy father’s
life/Now wears his crown” –Ghost, I.v.46-47
 “The time is out of joint. O cursed
spite/That ever I was born to set it right!”
-Hamlet, I.v.210-211
Hamlet’s 1st Soliloquy:
Denmark as an “unweeded garden”
Claudius is the serpent
Gertrude is Eve, weak and frail
Allusions: references to Greek and Roman mythology
Hamlet reveals his deepest thoughts with the audience;
he does not want to live anymore
“Like Niobe, all tears—why she, even she”
“But no more like my father than I to Hercules”
“So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a
Aside: short lines spoken privately to the audience
“A little more than kin but less than kind