RQ: Just Eat It

Keep the following questions in mind as you watch Just Eat It. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

1.What challenge do the filmmakers set for themselves and why?

2. How long is the challenge? Why don’t they do it for longer? What does the length of the challenge say about the sustainability of their project?

3. What are some underlying causes of food waste in the US and Canada? How do your food waste habits contribute to the problem?

4. According to the documentary, how is food wasted at all stages from farm to table? Is one stage of the process more wasteful than others, why/why not?

5. What solutions does the film suggest will reduce food waste?

6. Why are the aesthetics of what we eat so important? Do you ever buy or eat fruit that is bruised or oddly shaped? What would it take to change the ways Americans value food?

7. Should supermarkets and food production/transportation facilities provide public access to food that would otherwise be thrown away, why/why not?

8. Why is food wasting acceptable where, say, littering is not? What would it take to make wasting food as taboo as littering or smoking?

9. How have cultural norms around food waste shifted over the last 100 years and why?

10. Why do we have expiration dates on our food? How do expiration dates contribute to waste?

11. What major visual and rhetorical choices do Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer use to communicate their goals? Which visual/rhetorical choices are most successful and why?


Just Eat It Official Website

Food Waste Teaching Resources

John Oliver, “Food Waste,” (2017)

RQ: Vik Muniz, Wasteland.

Featured Image: Jardim Gramacho Landfill

Keep the following questions in mind as you watch Vik Muniz, Wasteland. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

What is the overall goal of Vic Muniz’s project? What is the overall goal of the film? Are their goals the same, why/why not?

Which of the catadores did you most empathize with and why?

What do you think Muniz was trying to achieve or say by having the catadores pose as famous figures from the history of arc?

How much do you think a project like Muniz’s can redress excessive waste? That is, is it feasible remake or revalue trash as Muniz does at scale?

How does the filmmaker make use of framing and design to tell his story?

What is the context of the film? Where is the film set? How do context and set contribute to ways the filmmaker achieves his goals?

How does Muniz follow in the footsteps of artists like Andy Warhol? Is Muniz’s project the natural progression of the pop art that began in the 1960’s?

What do you think Jane Bennett or Scott Herring would respond to Muniz’s project?

Muniz and his wife argue about how his project will hurt the catadores. Do you think that the project will/does hurt them? What ethical responsibilities does Muniz owe his subjects?

Jarmin Gramacho closed in 2012. What do you imagine are the biggest challenges for the former catadores? What are the biggest environmental challenges?

How did the project ultimately transform Muniz? What do you think the filmmaker is trying to say by shooting Muniz in his study and kitchen in Brooklyn?


Vic Muniz Website

Muniz Interview

Muniz Interview w/NYTimes


An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore

Featured Image

Keep the following questions in mind as you watch Al Gore’s, An Inconvenient Truth. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

1. Why does the film open and close with serene images of nature: lush green leaves and a gently flowing river on a sunny day, followed by Al Gore’s voice-over about this peaceful place?

2. What is the intention of showing Gore delivering his slide show at town-hall-style meetings? How does Gore come across to the viewers as the camera follows him behind the scenes and on his tours?

3. What is the effect of Gore opening his presentation on a serious subject with self-irony: “I used to be the next president of the United States”? And after the audience laughs, Gore quips, “I don’t find that particularly funny.” Where else in this discussion of an environmental crisis do we see Gore’s humor?

4. In this film, Gore narrates a moment in 1989 when his six-year-old son dropped his father’s hand, ran into the street, and was severely injured. How does this personal story relate to Gore’s mission?

5. Gore also tells a story of his father’s tobacco farm and business and of his older sister Nancy who died of lung cancer. How is this personal history relevant to this film?

6. Because so much of the film consists of scientific facts and charts, you may have been challenged to record sufficient notes. Work with classmates to answer as many of the following questions as you can:

7. Why do we have global warming?

8. What is the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature?

9. How does global warming (the increase in worldwide temperatures) contribute to an increase in the number and severity of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons?

10. How can global warming cause both violent precipitation as well as droughts?

11. Explain the significance of each of these references from the film: — the findings of core drills — the thawing of the permafrost, the splitting of the Ward Hunt ice shelf, and the disappearance of the Larson ice shelf? — the Arctic ice cap disappearing — the image of a canary in a coal mine — the image of the frog in the cooking pot

12. Cite five ecological consequences of global warming in the animal and plant communities.

13. Explain the three factors that are causing “a collision between our civilization and the earth.”

14. Gore includes several resonant quotations from important authors and creates his own memorable claims as well. How are each of these citations illustrated in the film: from Mark Twain: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know; it’s what we know that just ain’t so.” — from Winston Churchill in 1936: “The era of procrastination, of half-measure, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.” — from Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

15. Cite specific ways that this statement is illustrated throughout this film. — from Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow in Science magazine: “Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problems.” — from Al Gore: “We have everything we need save, perhaps, political will but in American, political will is a renewable resource.”

16. How does Gore counter the myth that scientists disagree with the fact that we are causing global warming and that it is a serious problem?

17. How does Gore expose the misconception that we have to choose between the economy and the environment?

18. What historical facts about the United States does Gore cite to oppose those who claim that global warming is too big of a problem to solve?

19. When Gore took his scientific evidence of global warming to Congress, he expected that this compelling information would “cause a real sea change” in the government. He saw global warming as a moral issue that needed to be acted on and not a political issue to be derided and dismissed. What specific evidence in the film demonstrates that special interests, political corruption, and denial have prevented some necessary reforms?

20. Explain the significance of the film’s title An Inconvenient Truth.

Hamlet, Act 5.


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Act 5. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


Why is the Clown, also called the Gravedigger, digging and moving bones around at the start of 5.1?

Why does the Clown Ophelia should buried outside the consecrated grown of the church yard?

“What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?” (5.13220)

How does Hamlet respond to the Clown’s treatment of the bones in the graveyard? OR, how does the Clown’s attitude toward death differ from Hamlet’s?

What sort of life story does Hamlet initially imagine for the skull (5.1.3290-3302)?

How does Hamlet react when he finds out who’s skull he’s really holding (5.1.3373-3382)?

Where does the Priest think Ophelia’s body should be buried and what convinces him to bury her in the churchyard (5.1.3415-3423)?

How does Hamlet react when he finds out that Ophelia is dead and about to be buried (5.1.3471-3481)?

How does Laertes respond to Ophelia’s death?

Is Hamlet different when he gets back from his sea adventure (5.2.3509-10 and 5.1.3669-3674)? If yes, why? If yes, who cares?

Does the story Hamlet tell Horatio about how he escaped Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the Pirates differ from the account he provides in the letter he sent Horatio in 4.6?

How does Hamlet respond to R & G’s death? Are you surprised by his response (5.2.3560-3565)?

Does Gertrude know the cup she drinks is poisoned? Is she guilty of self-murder OR does she sacrifice herself to save Hamlet?

Why does Laertes decide to tell Hamlet the truth about the plot he and Claudius hatched to kill Hamlet?

Is Hamlet ultimately responsible for killing Claudius? Does he fulfill his oath to the ghost?

Does Hamlet really die?

RQ: Hamlet, 4.5-4.7

Featured Image: John Evert Millias (1852)


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Act 4, Scenes 5-7. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


Why does Ophelia want to speak with Gertrude and why does Gertrude initially refuse?

According to the Gentleman (4.5.4-16), How has Ophelia changed since we last saw her and what has caused the change?

According to Messenger report (4.5.98-110), how have the “The rabble” (4.5.102) responded to Polonius’s death and Laertes’s return from France?

How do Gertrude and Claudius respond to Laertes and he political threat he poses?

How does Laertes respond to Ophelia when he meets her for the first time after returning to Denmark?

Ophelia’s Mad Scene, 4.5.169-192


There’s rosemary; that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies; that’s for thoughts.
document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’Sundays. You may wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say ‘a made a good end.
[She sings.]
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
Thought and afflictionspassion, hell itself
She turns to favor and to prettiness.
And will ‘a not come again?
And will ‘a not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed,
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
Flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan.
God ‘a’ mercy on his soul!
And of all Christians’ souls, I pray God. God b’wi’you!
[Exit Ophelia, followed by the Queen.]


What does Hamlet’s letter ask Horatio to do for the Sailors?
According to the letter he sent Horatio, what happened to Hamlet on his way to England?
What has happened to Rozencrantz and Guildentstern?


According to his confession to Laertes (4.7.10-25), why hasn’t Claudius killed Hamlet?
What reasons does Laertes think he has to revenge himself against Hamlet?
What does Hamlet say in his letter to Claudius (4.7.43-6), and how does Claudius respond? What’s your assessment of Claudius’s interpretation of the letter?
Describe Claudius’s plan to kill Hamlet (4.7.125-137).
According to Gertrude’s report, how did Ophelia die (4.7.164-180)?
How does Laertes react?

Report of Ophelia’s Drowning, 4.7.161-180

One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
So fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.
Drowned! Oh, where?
There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cull-cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them.
There on the pendent boughs her crownet weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and endued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.



RQ: Hamlet, Act 4.1-4.4.4

Featured Image: Andrea Mantegna, The di sotto in sù ceiling panel of the Camera picta.


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Act 4, Scenes 1-4. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


What does Claudius want Gertrude to “translate” for him (4.1.2)?

Does Gertrude fulfill her promise to Hamlet?

Who’s responsible for Polonius’s murder? How does Claudius respond to Polonius’s murder?

What does Claudius mean when he says that he must “Both countenance and excuse” (4.1.32) Polonius’s murder?

How/why does Claudius begin to figure Hamlet, his actions and his “madness,” as a disease, which has infected the state (4.1.19-22; 4.310-11; and 4.3.64-5)


Why does Hamlet call Rozencrantz a “sponge” (4.2.11 & 19)?

What does Hamlet mean when he says, “The King is a thing” (4.2.26)?

In Q1, these lines come earlier in the play at 3.2.342-63 during Hamlet and R& G’s exchange about recorders (3.2.342-63). Do you think that placement is better or worse?


What stops Claudius from putting “the strong law,” (4.3.3) on Hamlet? In other words, what holds Claudius back from punishing Hamlet to the greatest extent of the of which he is the final judge/jury?

How does Hamlet respond when asked where he has deposited Polonius’s body?

What do you make of Hamlet’s ecology: “Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes but to one table. That’s the end” (4.3.21-24)?

According to Hamlet, how does “nature” threaten political systems from the inside?

What’s going to happen to Hamlet after R & G deliver Claudius’s letter? Why does Claudius trust the King of England will do as he commands?


Where are Fortinbras and his army, who Hamlet sees cross through Denmark, going to attack?

What do you make of the Captain’s explanation of the war they are all about to fight:

Truly to speak, and with no addition,

We go to gain a little patch of ground

That hath in it no profit but the name.

To pay five ducats—five—I would not farm it,

Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

A ranker state should it be sold in fee. (4.4.16-21)

How does Hamlet respond to the sight of Fortinbras marching across Denmark to attack Poland?

Is his response in proportion to the event?

How does Hamlet interpret the political event he witnesses personally? Does his response mark a change in his revenge plans?

The speech beginning, “How all occasions do inform against me” (4.4.31-65) is not included in Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), or any Folio editions. How does the inclusion (in Q2)/exclusion of the speech change the way we read and/or interpret Hamlet?

Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh (1996)

“How all occasions” in Q2

“How all occasions” omission in F1

Arden Edition (2016)


RQ: Hamlet, Act 3

Featured Image


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Act 3, Scenes 1-2. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


Why haven’t Rosencrantz an Guildenstern been able to figure out the cause of Hamlet’s “turbulent and dangerous lunacy” (3.1.4) by the start of Act 3?

Why do you think Claudius asks Gertrude to leave he and Polonius alone to observe Hamlet’s interaction with Ophelia (“seeing unseen” (3.1.32))?

Why does Polonius say to trigger Claudius’s admission of guilt (3.1.50-53)?

Does Hamlet know that Claudius and Polonius can hear him? What do you think of Hamlet delivering this speech to Ophelia?

“To be or not to be” (3.1.55-88)

What, exactly, is the question? “To be, or not to be—that is the question” (3.1.55): “(a) whether life in general is worth living, (b) whether he should take his own life, (c) whether he should act against the king” (314 nn55).

Are there other questions besides, life or not life? Anything else worth asking? Is there anything else, “between all the two’s one likes” (xvii)?

What’s “slings” (3.1.56)?

How does Hamlet define “death”? How does Hamlet define sleep?

What are some of the bad things that a person would escape if the church had not outlawed suicide?

Why words like “bodkin” (3.1.75) and “fardels” (3.1.75)? Compare with words derived from Latin such as “quietus” (3.1.74)?

  • Bodkin of unknown Welsh or Irish derivation
  • Fardel old French and Old English

Ultimately, what stops people from killing themselves, “And makes us rather bear those ills we have/Than fly to others that we know not of” (3.1.80-1)?

Beyond Killing ourselves, what does “conscience” (3.1.82) also stop us from doing and/or turn us into?

How does Hamlet react when he first sees Ophelia? How does his reaction compare with the introspective speech that precedes her entrance?

Original Pronunciation, Hamlet 3.1.55-88

RSC 2009, David Tennant, 2.1.1-38

Adrian Lester as Hamlet: ‘To be or not to be’ | Shakespeare Solos


How does Hamlet respond to Ophelia when she attempts to return the letters he gave her, “My lord, I have remembrances of yours/That I have longed to redeliver/I pray you now take them” (3.1.92-4)?

What does “Get thee to a nunnery!” (3.1.120) mean? Why does Hamlet want Ophelia to go there?

Is Hamlet’s response to Ophelia part of his act, his “antic disposition” or is he sincere? Does Hamlet know that Claudius and Polonius are watch their interaction? How does it change the scene if a director decides to stage 3.1 so that Hamlet knows he is being watched?

How does Claudius react to what he sees transpire between Ophelia and Hamlet?


What direction does Hamlet give the players?

Describe the “dumb show” (3.21128-30).

Describe The Mousetrap (3.2.146-223).

How well does The Mousetrap represent the events that occurred prior to the start of Hamlet?

How does Claudius react to the play? How does Gertrude react to the play?

Here’s a link to the David Tennant, Royal Shakespeare, 2008 Hamlet

The Mousetrap sequence is 74-80


George Villiers Duke of Buckingham, Miniature Portrait


What does Claudius plan to do with Hamlet after he watches the play?

How does Guildenstern “figure” the state (3.3.6-7)? How does Rosencrantz (3.3.11-26)? Do the two representations agree or disagree?

Why do you think that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern agree to take Hamlet to England?

Why does Polonius plan to hide behind the “arras” (3.3.28) in Gertrude’s closet?

Why is Caludius incapable of asking for forgiveness (3.3.53-6)? What’s the difference between heaven and earth in Claudius’s estimation (3.3.60-4)?

What stops Hamlet from killing Claudius at the end of 3.3?


How does Hamlet plan to approach Gertrude (3.2375-89), and does he follow through on his plan?

What do the repetitions at the start of the chamber sequence establish about Hamlet and Gertrude’s relationship (3.4.4-13)? How does this exchange echo their initial exchange at 1.2.72-5?

Do you think that Hamlet will really kill his own mother at 3.4.20?

How does Hamlet kill Polonius (3.2.21)?

Do you think that Gertrude knows that Claudius killed Old Hamlet? Why/why not?

What visual representations does Hamlet use to compare his father and uncle and chasten his mother for her marriage (3.4.51-70)?

Why do you think Hamlet is so obsessed with his mother and uncle’s sex life (3.4.90-2)?

Do you agree with Gertrude’s diagnosis of her son at (3.4.102)?

Why does the ghost of Old Hamlet appear in this scene?

What does the Ghost ask Hamlet to do?

Do not forget! This isitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But look, amazement on thy mother sits!

O step between her and her fighting soul.

Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.

Speak to her Hamlet. (3.4.106-110)

Why can’t Gertrude see the ghost of Old Hamlet (3.4.113-14)?

What does Hamlet command his mother do (3.4.163-69 and 3.4.179-81)?

What does Hamlet plan to do with Polonius’s body?

What complications does the mother pose to father-son relationships?

What does it mean that Hamlet’s identity is defined as between two fathers? How does Hamlet have to choose between two fathers and how does Gertrude complicate this choice?

How does Gertrude obliterate or challenge the memory of the heroic father?

Does Hamlet become more like Claudius, as he forgets and/or becomes less like the father figure he idealizes?

Why should the first mother powerfully present in Shakespeare since the period of his earliest works be portrayed as adulterous?

What is Gertrude’s chief crime?

How does the Gertrude of Hamlet’s imagination differ from the character in her own words?

Does Gertrude “enact every son’s scenario of the good mother, i.e. choosing his interests over her husband’s” (15)?

3.4 Olivier, 1948

3.4 Zeffirelli, 1990

RQ: Hamlet, Act 2


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Act 2 The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

Why do Claudius and Gertrude think that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will be able to discover the cause of Hamlet’s madness when no one else has been able to figure Hamlet out so far? Is the King and Queen’s faith in the pair misguided, why/why not?

What sort of deal does Voletemand (2.2.60-79) bring back from Norway for Claudius? Is the deal a good one? How does Claudius respond?

Polonius thinks that Hamlet is “mad, ‘tis true, ‘tis true ‘tis pity/And pity ‘tis ‘tis true: a foolish figure!” (2.2.996-7). What does he think has caused Hamlet’s madness? Do you agree?

What’s your assessment of Hamlet’s letters to Ophelia (2.2.107-124)?

Can you think of an example of a time when Polonius “said ‘tis so/When it proved otherwise” (2.2.151-2)?

What plan do Polonius, Claudius, and Gertrude hatch to discovery the cause of Hamlet’s madness? Is their plan successful, why/why not? (Visor Effect)

At such time I’ll loose my daughter to him.

Be you and I behind an arras then,

Mark the encounter: if he love her not

And be not from his reason fallen theron

Let me be no assistant for a state

But keep a farm and carters. (2.2.159-63)

What does Hamlet read (2.2170-201)?

Is Hamlet telling the truth to Rozencrantz and Guildenstern when he describes his “symptoms” at 2.2.261-276? Why/Why not?

Why are the Players, the company of actors, who Hamlet knew while he was a school, traveling throughout the country? (2.2.295-6)

How does Hamlet react to the arrival of the Players?

What does Hamlet mean when he says, “I am mad but north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” (2.2.315-6)?

Summarize the speech that Hamlet begins, and the First Player completes 2.2.388-456. Why does Polonius interrupt the speech and is his interruption justified? Does the speech (re)tell the story of Hamlet and his family?

Is it weird that Hamlet wants to tell the story of the recent past and present with very old stories?

How does Hamlet “read this speech”? What’s Hamlet’s assessment of the Player’s speech and how does he “read” the Player’s speech as indictment of his own failure to respond to his father’s murder correctly? Is Hamlet a coward? What’s your assessment of his progress so far? Do you agree with him, why/why not?

What does Hamlet plan to do to “catch the conscience of the King” (2.2.540)?

First Player’s Speech 2.2.405-456

RQ: Hamlet 1.2-5


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet 1.2-5 The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.



What is the occasion of 1.2? Why have all the courtiers gathered in the Courtroom? Is the occasion official and why?

When does 1.2 take place?

What are some things that are topsy-turvy, preposterous, or dislocated in 1.2?

What does Fortinbras want from King Claudius and how does Claudius respond?

What does Laertes want from Claudius and how does he respond?

Why does Claudius address Hamlet last and what does he want him to do?

What is Hamlet’s first line and what does he mean when he says, “A little more than kin and less than kind” (1.2.65)? What sorts of characteristics does Hamlet establish with this line?

How/why do Hamlet and Gertrude play on the term “common” (1.2.72 & 73); what does the term “common” denote when Claudius uses it later (1.2. 98 & 103)?

According to Hamlet what are some affects or attributes of mourning or grief that a person might perform? Why is grief the opposite of a performance? How can we know for sure that he is telling us the truth?

How does Claudius react to Hamlet’s mourning? How does Claudius try to persuade Hamlet to a different mood? Is he successful? Why/why not?

What’s a soliloquy?

What does Hamlet reveal to the audience in his first soliloquy (1.2.126-58)? For example, what has he lost? What is his reaction to that loss? Is his reaction to loss appropriate, why/why not? What sorts of words does he use to frame his loss, OR what discourse communities does he draw from to depict his suffering?

How does Horatio react when Hamlet says, “My father, methinks I see my father” (1.2.183)?

How does Horatio convince Hamlet to come see the ghost? Is Hamlet a sceptic? Is Horatio?

Why do you think Shakespeare makes the audience sit through a retelling of the scene we just watched?

How faithful is Horatio’s retelling of the events of 1.1? Does he embellish?


What advice does Laertes give to his sister Ophelia? What’s your assessment of Laertes and/or his advice?

What are Ophelia’s first lines?

How does Ophelia respond to her brother’s advice?

Compare Hamlet to Laertes.

What advice does Polonius give to Laertes? Does Polonius give his son good advice? What are some ironies in the advice Polonius gives?

How does Polonius respond to Ophelia’s disclosure that Hamlet has “of late made many tenders/Of his affections” (1.3.98-99)? What work does Polonius make the word “tender” perform?

How does Ophelia respond to her father’s commands?

How/why does Polonius treat Ophelia differently than he treats Laertes? What’s your assessment of Polonius’s relationship with his son and daughter? OR, what’s your assessment of him as a father/Father?

Does Polonius read Hamlet’s affections toward Ophelia correctly, if not, why not?


What is Claudius doing while Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are out on the wall again, watching for the ghost? What’s Hamlet’s opinion of his uncle/stepfather’s behavior?

What are some questions that Hamlet asks the ghost? What are some names Hamlet uses to address the ghost and why?

Why are Marcellus and Horatio afraid to let Hamlet follow the ghost? What bad things do they imagine the ghost could do to him? What reasons does Hamlet give for his lack of fear (1.4.64-8)?

Do Horatio’s warnings about the ghost come true?

Who says, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (1.4.90), and what does he mean?


Where does the Ghost go when the sun comes up and why does he have to go there?

What does the Ghost want Hamlet to do?

What’s the official story of Old King Hamlet’s death?

How did the Old King actually die?

Why does the Ghost figure Claudius, his brother, as a snake in the retelling of both the false report and the true report of his murder?

Compare Hamlet’s description of his parent’s marriage (1.2.137-146) to the Ghost’s description of their marriage (1.5.41-56). If you believe their accounts, then how do you read Gertrude?

What does the Ghost want Hamlet to do to Gertrude?

How does Hamlet respond to the Ghost’s request?

To what does Hamlet command Marcellus and Horatio to swear?

How does the following illustrate some of the benefits and drawbacks of preservation?

RQ: Hamlet, Intro. & Act 1.1


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Hamlet, Scenes 1.1-1.2. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


“Who’s there” (1.1.1)?

Who’s there first? Why does Bernardo ask Francisco to disclose himself and not the other way around? What’s implied by this funny, famous opening? Is this a play about trying to find out who’s there and ultimately failing in the attempt?

Why “unfold” (1.1.2)?

What does Francisco mean when he says, “You come very carefully upon your hour” (1.1.4)? Why is Francisco “sick at heart” (1.1.7)?

Why does “rivals”(1.1.11)  mean partners?

Why do Barnardo and Marcellus want Horatio to join them on the watch (1.1.22-26)?

What time is it? What time did Barnardo and Marcellus see the ghost before?

What does the ghost look like? How do the men of the watch know he is the ghost of old Hamlet?

How do they know the ghost “would be spoke to” (1.1.44)?

What’s the first question that Horatio asks the ghost? What does Horatio imply that the ghost “usurp’st” (1.1.45)? Why is the ghost offended by Horatio’s question?

What confirms for Horatio that the ghost is real, or that the ghost is “something more than fantasy” (1.1.53)?

What sort of relationship do the characters have to nature?

According to Horatio what does the appearance of the ghost mean for Demark? What precedent does Horatio site for similar supernatural and portentous events? Did the Romans heed such signs as reanimated corpses, floods, eclipses, and comets?  Do the characters in Hamlet read the signs?

What does the triple repetition of the word “like” (1.1.40, 1.1.43, & 1.1.44) signify? Is the ghost a reanimated corpse OR as is the ghost, as Stephen Greenblatt suggests, “an embodied memory” (212)? But if yes, then what memory or better yet, who’s memory?

What is the boundary between memory and haunting?

For what reasons do the watcher surmise the old king (or something “like” it) has returned from the grave as a ghost?

Why do the actors keep sitting down, (1.1.34, 1.1.69)?

When Horatio, Benardo, and Marcellus look out over the wall, what sort of activities are going on? Why is Denmark preparing for war and against whom?

Why does Horatio couch the description of Fortinbras and the preparation for war in terms that evoke eating?

Why is Horatio who addresses the ghost? Why don’t Marcellus or Bernardo address the ghost? Why did they have to bring in Horatio special?

What three exhortations does Horatio put the ghost?

Who else made three statements before a cock crowed?

Why does Horatio stop questioning the ghost?

What are some reasons the Horatio and Marcellus give for why the ghost disappeared?

How does the first scene establish for the audience that they are about to watch a play that is topsy-turvy, dislocated, or in Hamlet’s own words, “out of joint” (1.5.186)


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