Hamlet, Journal #4—Due TUESDAY, March 4

Answer the following questions drawing on evidence from the play thus far where appropriate.

Answer all of the following questions.

  1. Two of Hamlet’s soliloquies (the ones in 2.2 and 3.1) use lists of questions and question-answer structures.  What might Shakespeare be revealing about Hamlet’s character by using these techniques?  Explain yourself as thoroughly as possible.
  2. As I’ve been saying over and over so far in discussion, Shakespeare loves using asides and soliloquies throughout this play.  Aside from “letting us inside a character’s head,” why else might Shakespeare be using them (i.e., what effect(s) do they have on us?)?  Discuss and draw on your knowledge of the play to support your answer.
  3. 3.3 ends with Claudius saying, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below, Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”  What does this reveal about Claudius’s character?  Explain.  (BONUS:  Ironically, these lines also reflect on Hamlet.  What is the irony of these lines when considering Hamlet’s 10 lines before Claudius says them?  Explain.)


Answer ONE of the following questions.

  1. In 3.1, Shakespeare makes Claudius give the audience an aside which reveals that he is actually guilty of what the ghost accused him of.  This happens *before* he has a negative reaction to the play Hamlet has asked the performers to present.  What reason might Shakespeare have for doing this?  What else does Claudius mention when he reveals his guilt and why might Shakespeare be throwing that into the mix of things for us to think about?
  2. In 3.4, Hamlet visits Gertrude in her chamber and no longer “holds his tongue.”  Discuss Gertrude’s reaction to Hamlet’s criticism of her and the ghost’s intervention in the scene.  What does Shakespeare want us to understand about Gertrude’s character?  Explain.


Write up your response to turn in.

For extra credit, post your journal on the Hamlet blog at:



REMINDER:  Post a comment about Hamlet’s tragic flaw on the blog!  All postings on this topic are extra credit!  *Any* thoughts so far??