Martyn Comp/Lit12 HAMLET Act 4 Reading Response Questions 1

Act 4 Reading Response Questions
1. Why is Horatio still at Court? What’s he doing there, after Hamlet – his principal
reason and main relationship in Elsinore – has left (Hamlet seems to have been away for
around two weeks)
2. Laertes – not the easiest part in the world. You have a few lines getting what you
want from the (retrospectively, evil) King, you nag your beloved sister not to have sex
with the hero, you leave for three acts, and then you return, and you’re very unhappy.
It’s a challenge.
So, consider this for Act 4…Might Laertes think that Claudius is somehow to
blame for Polonius lying dead in the Queen’s private room? Also consider, towards the
end of 4.5, were it not for Claudius keeping him behind, with his “Laertes, I must
commune with your grief,” perhaps he might have run after his sister, and been there to
save her from her fate…?
And yet, Laertes makes a plan with Claudius to exact revenge on Hamlet by
killing him in a fencing match (and he plans to put poison on the tip of his foil to make
sure Hamlet REALLY dies).
SO my question is…why does Laertes conspire (plot revenge) with King
3. R&G, and Hamlet, and the pirates, and the letter, and the voyage to England, and
Horatio and the sailor. A letter scene when a character reads out a letter, (inevitably
from someone not present) is always tricky to play, filled as it is with so much new
information both for character and audience.
What new information do we learn? What is the intended effect on the character
on stage that receives the information? What is the intended effect on the audience?
What action does it set up for Act 5?
4. Individual and Creative Response: Claudius asks Laertes, “What would you
undertake to show yourself in deed your fathers son more than in words?” How would
YOU respond to this question? (You can transpose “father” to “mother” and “son” to
“daughter”) if you choose. This is a question based on your life right now. Do not put
yourself in Laertes’ position in Elsinore. But you CAN put yourself in his shoes…