Hamlet Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What is the main idea of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech?

2. What was Ophelia doing when she was frightened by Hamlet in Act 2, Scene 1?

3. After hearing about Hamlet's strange behavior, what does Polonius say about his own decisions?

4. What does Polonius tell Laertes about borrowing money?

5. After the ambassadors have left, what piece of writing does Polonius share with Claudius and Gertrude?

Short Essay Questions

1. When Hamlet meets Ophelia after the "To be or not to be" speech, he is polite or gentle with her at first. What happens to change his attitude? How does his attitude change? What does he say?

2. Before Laertes leaves Elsinore, Polonius gives him a lot of advice. What does Polonius say is the most important piece of advice he can give?

3. Laertes and Polonius are both concerned about Ophelia's romance. In Act 1, Scene 3, what do they tell her?

4. After the play-within-a-play, where is Hamlet asked to go? Who asks him to go there?

5. After Laertes leaves in Act 1, Scene 3, Polonius and Ophelia have a private talk. What specific instruction or order does Polonius give Ophelia?

6. As they watch for the ghost in Act 1, Scene 4, Hamlet and his companions hear a noise offstage. What noise do they hear and how does Hamlet explain it?

7. Does the Ghost at the beginning of the play talk to the watchers?

8. In Act 2, Scene 2, Polonius talks to Hamlet. After that conversation, does Polonius think Hamlet is crazy?

9. Who does the Ghost in Act 1, Scene 1 look like?

10. Polonius sends Reynaldo to Laertes with very specific instructions. What does Polonius tell Reynaldo to do, and how does Polonius tell him to do it?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

There are so many characters in a Shakespeare play that it is sometimes easy to lose track of them. Find a scene in which an important character is mostly silent -- for example, the scene where Polonius and Claudius spy on Hamlet and Ophelia. Why is that character still in the scene? How is the audience's sense of the scene changed by knowing that character is present? How does the character make its silent presence felt?

Essay Topic 2

Compare and contrast the characters of Gertrude and Ophelia, focusing on the following points:

-- To what extent is each of them a victim of what happens?

-- To what extent does each of them cause what happens?

-- Does Gertrude affect Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia? If so, how? Does Ophelia affect Hamlet's relationship with Gertrude? If so, how?

-- How do the other men in the play treat Gertrude and Ophelia? How does that contribute to our overall sense of them? Focus specifically on the ghost, Claudius, Laertes, and Polonius.

-- Does it matter that these are essentially the only two female characters in the play? Why?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the use of irony, dramatic and otherwise, throughout the play. How does Shakespeare use irony to make his scenes more effective?

(see the answer keys)

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