ENG 4U Hamlet - Review Guide
To prepare for tests, exams and essays (especially comparative questions, and sight tests) based in literature, it is useful to rehearse yourself in central issues. Provide yourself with an arsenal of scenes, incidents, characters, and speeches you know well without having to leaf through your text at the last minute, using valuable time searching instead of writing.
Anticipate and prepare these issues. Add more of your own that may have come from your jigsaw sessions. Note Acts, scenes and lines, and explain what conclusions you draw in each instance. What would you refer to if you were asked
a) to decide whether Gertrude was an innocent, or a conspirator with Claudius in her first husband's death.
b) to defend Gertrude's character and morality.
c) to defend Claudius' character and motivation.
d) to show Claudius as a scheming manipulator.
e) to suggest that Ophelia was "more sinned against than sinning", used and abused.
f) to argue that Ophelia was weak and spineless, unworthy of Hamlet, letting him down when he needed her most.
g) to argue that Ophelia's death was suicide.
h) to argue that Ophelia's death was not suicide.
i) to defend Polonius as a wise, worthy, and kind councilor and father.
j) to argue that Polonius was an intrusive old busybody, trusting no one, unworthy of trust himself, who deserved what he got.
k) to suggest that the ghost is an essential element in the play, without which the plot would not advance, the mood not be established, and Hamlet's motivation as a tragic hero remain unclear.
l) to argue that the ghost confuses the plot, and muddies our perception of Hamlet's true nature.
m) to show Horatio, Laertes, and Young Fortinbras as foils for Hamlet.
n) to suggest that Horatio would have made a better successor to the Danish throne than Fortinbras.
o) to argue that Hamlet is mad from the beginning of the play, and never recovers his sanity.
p) to argue that Hamlet is never mad at any time in the play, but is always in complete control.
q) to argue that Hamlet's behaviour throughout is that of a true hero.
r) to argue that Hamlet is, in fact, the villain of the play.
s) to argue that Hamlet's fatal flaw is procrastination.
t) to argue that Hamlet's fatal flaw is not procrastination.
u) to argue that this is a revenge tragedy, plain and simple.
v) to argue that this play is an early investigation into human psychology.
w) to argue that the play is dominated by conventional religious issues.
x) to argue that the play is obsessed with "being dead".
y) to show that Elsinore is a microcosm for the Renaissance world.
z) to argue that no one is an island in this play.