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?

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