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Acts 3 and 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Acts 3 and 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet says, “To be or not to be: that is the question….” This speech means Hamlet is questioning whether he should choose death over suffering or endure the suffering. His mother’s marriage to his wicked uncle and his father’s death has caused Hamlet to envision the advantages of suicide. Hamlet is surprised that individuals consider a life of pain over death and concludes that people’s fear of the unknown about what death would bring pushes them to choose suffering over death. Hamlet is in a state of grief and shock as he realizes that his wicked uncle killed his father. Therefore, in the entire monologue, Hamlet is thinking about whether he should face the hardships of life head-on or end them by death.

Hamlet and Ophelia were lovers. Ophelia is Laertes’s sister and Polonius’s daughter. Before the play, Hamlet was in a love relationship with Ophelia, but in the play, he hates her. He gives Ophelia several gifts during their courtship until Ophelia’s dad warns her from Hamlet and instructs her never to see him anymore. However, during the play, Hamlet maltreats Ophelia and denies having offered Ophelia anything, laments the deceitfulness of beauty, and confirms to have loved Ophelia once and never loved her. This means in Acts 3 and 4, Hamlet hates and is harsh to Ophelia because he has shifted his fury for her mother’s marriage onto Ophelia. Hamlet’s sentiments demonstrate that he has transferred his rage and hatred for her mum to all females. For instance, Hamlet tells Ophelia, “God has given you face, and you make yourselves another. You Jig and amble and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I will no more on ‘t” (Puchner 1780).

The theme of death is manifested in Acts 3 and 4 through the combination of Hamlet being angry about his father’s death and her mother’s betrayal, which makes Hamlet a murderer. The theme of death is also manifested through the death of Claudius and Hamlet, where Hamlet first cuts Claudius with his blade, then forces him to drink from the poisoned cup and then kills himself. The theme of betrayal manifests through Claudius betraying his cousin by killing his dad and marrying Gertrude after killing her husband. Gertrude also betrays his husband by marrying immediately after his death and betrays Hamlet by not mourning his father.

Work Cited

Puchner, Martin, et al., Eds. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. London and New York: WW Norton, 2018.


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Acts 3 and 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Acts 3 and 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

This week, you read Acts 3 and 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Please answer the following:
Book: The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 4th Edition Package 1 OR Volumes A, B, C
General Editor: Martin Puchner
ISBN: 978-0-393-26590-3
Published by: W.W. Norton & Company

1. In Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet gives his most famous soliloquy, beginning with the line “To be, or not to be: that is the question:…” (line 56). What is the meaning of this speech? How is Hamlet feeling?
2. Describe the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia.
3. In what ways do the themes “death” and “betrayal” manifest in Acts 3 and 4?

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