Hamlet Act 1

Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, marking one of his most iconic works.

In this post, I will provide a comprehensive plot summary of Hamlet Act 1, broken down by scene with corresponding questions and answers for each section.

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hamlet act 1

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1

Just after twelve o’clock, Francisco stops watching, and Barnardo and Marcellus ask Horatio to join them to see the ghost of the dead king. The ghost appears two times but doesn’t speak to them. They plan to tell Hamlet in the morning.

They think that seeing a ghost usually means something important might happen. They believe the ghost of the king is connected to the upcoming war with young Fortinbras of Norway. He wants to get back the lands his father lost when he battled Hamlet’s deceased father, the old King of Denmark.

Questions on Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1

  1. Why does Francisco stop watching, and who is asked to join Barnardo and Marcellus? Answer: Francisco stops watching as his shift ends, and Horatio is asked to join Barnardo and Marcellus to see the ghost of the dead king.
  2. How many times does the ghost appear to them, and does it communicate with them? Answer: The ghost appears two times but doesn’t speak to them.
  3. What do Barnardo, Marcellus, and Horatio plan to do in the morning? Answer: They plan to tell Hamlet about the appearance of the ghost.
  4. Why do they believe the appearance of a ghost might be significant? Answer: They believe seeing a ghost usually indicates that something important might happen.
  5. What connection do they establish between the ghost of the king and the upcoming war with young Fortinbras of Norway? Answer: They believe the ghost of the king might be connected to the upcoming war because young Fortinbras of Norway wants to reclaim the lands his father lost in a battle against Hamlet’s deceased father, the old King of Denmark.
  6. Who is young Fortinbras, and what does he want? Answer: Young Fortinbras is from Norway and seeks to regain the lands his father lost when he battled against the old King of Denmark.
  7. Why do they choose to inform Hamlet about the ghost in the morning? Answer: They decide to wait until morning to inform Hamlet because they believe the news might disturb him less in the daylight.
  8. What was the reason behind the battle between the old King of Denmark and young Fortinbras’ father? Answer: The battle between the old King of Denmark and young Fortinbras’ father was due to a dispute over lands.
  9. How do the characters view the appearance of the ghost in relation to the imminent war? Answer: They speculate that the ghost’s appearance might be linked to the upcoming war with young Fortinbras, implying a connection to the unsettled conflict.
  10. What role does Horatio play in the unfolding events with the ghost and its significance? Answer: Horatio is among those who witness the appearance of the ghost and is involved in the decision to inform Hamlet, forming perspectives on the potential implications of the ghost’s presence.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2

King Claudius tells everyone that despite feeling sad about his brother’s recent death, he’s married Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. He also shares news about young Fortinbras being aggressive and asks Voltemand and Cornelius to take a message to the King of Norway to calm down his nephew. Laertes asks to go back to France, and Polonius agrees. The King and Queen then ask Hamlet to stop being sad and to stay instead of going back to school. Hamlet agrees.

After everyone leaves, Hamlet feels upset about his mother marrying someone who isn’t as good as his father. Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo come and tell Hamlet about the ghost they saw. Hamlet promises to stay with them that night to talk to the ghost.

Questions on Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2

  1. Who is King Claudius, and what news does he share with everyone? Answer: King Claudius is the new king of Denmark. He shares the news of his recent marriage to Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. He also discusses the aggression of young Fortinbras and assigns Voltemand and Cornelius to take a message to the King of Norway to address this issue.
  2. Why does Laertes ask to return to France, and who approves his request? Answer: Laertes asks to return to France, and his father Polonius agrees to his request.
  3. What do King Claudius and Queen Gertrude ask of Hamlet, and how does he respond? Answer: They ask Hamlet to stop grieving and stay in Denmark instead of returning to school. Hamlet agrees to their request.
  4. Who informs Hamlet about the sighting of the ghost, and what is Hamlet’s response? Answer: Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo inform Hamlet about the ghost they saw. Hamlet promises to stay with them that night to speak to the ghost.
  5. What task does King Claudius assign Voltemand and Cornelius? Answer: King Claudius assigns Voltemand and Cornelius the task of delivering a message to the King of Norway to calm down his nephew, young Fortinbras.
  6. How does Hamlet initially react to his mother’s marriage to King Claudius? Answer: Hamlet feels upset and expresses disappointment over his mother marrying someone he considers inferior to his deceased father.
  7. Who is granted permission to return to France, and who agrees to this request? Answer: Laertes is granted permission to return to France, and his father, Polonius, approves his request.
  8. Why do King Claudius and Queen Gertrude ask Hamlet to stay in Denmark instead of going back to school? Answer: They request that Hamlet remain in Denmark to cease his grieving and to be present with them instead of returning to school.
  9. How does Hamlet react to the news of the ghost’s appearance as conveyed by Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo? Answer: Hamlet promises to stay with them that night to talk to the ghost, showing interest and readiness to engage with the mysterious apparition.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3

Laertes meets Ophelia before he leaves for France. He tells her to be careful of how Hamlet behaves with her and advises her to stay pure. Ophelia promises to follow his advice and asks him to do the same. Polonius comes in and gives advice to Laertes before he leaves. He also warns Ophelia about Hamlet’s romantic interests and tells her to stay away from him completely. She agrees to do as her father says.

Questions on Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3

  1. Who advises Ophelia to be cautious of Hamlet’s behavior, and what advice is given to her? Answer: Laertes advises Ophelia to be careful of how Hamlet behaves with her and instructs her to maintain her virtue and purity.
  2. What promise does Ophelia make to Laertes when he advises her about Hamlet? Answer: Ophelia promises to follow Laertes’ advice about being cautious around Hamlet and to maintain her purity.
  3. Who enters the scene after Laertes’ conversation with Ophelia, and what advice does this character give to Laertes before his departure? Answer: Polonius enters the scene and gives advice to Laertes before his departure, urging him to conduct himself with honor, be true to himself, and avoid unnecessary conflicts.
  4. What warning does Polonius give to Ophelia about Hamlet’s romantic inclinations, and what does he advise her to do? Answer: Polonius warns Ophelia about Hamlet’s romantic interests and instructs her to steer clear of him entirely.
  5. How does Ophelia respond to her father’s advice regarding Hamlet? Answer: Ophelia agrees to comply with her father’s instructions and promises to distance herself from Hamlet as advised.
  6. What specific guidance does Laertes give to Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet before he departs for France? Answer: Laertes advises Ophelia to be cautious about Hamlet’s behavior and to safeguard her own purity while dealing with him.
  7. Who advises Laertes before his departure, and what key advice is given to him? Answer: Polonius advises Laertes before his departure, emphasizing the importance of being true to himself, preserving his honor, and avoiding unnecessary confrontations.
  8. Why does Polonius warn Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet completely? Answer: Polonius warns Ophelia about Hamlet’s romantic interests and advises her to distance herself from him completely to avoid any potential harm.
  9. What promise does Ophelia make to her brother, Laertes, regarding the advice he gives her about Hamlet? Answer: Ophelia promises her brother, Laertes, that she will follow his advice and guidance about being cautious around Hamlet and maintaining her virtue.
  10. What is the general theme of the advice given to Ophelia by both Laertes and Polonius concerning Hamlet? Answer: Both Laertes and Polonius advise Ophelia to be wary of Hamlet’s intentions and to distance herself from him to protect her own well-being and virtue.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 4

Just after midnight, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are waiting to see the Ghost. The Ghost shows up and signals to Hamlet, who goes after it. Horatio and Marcellus follow them.

Questions on Hamlet Act 1 Scene 4

  1. Who is present and waiting just after midnight to witness the Ghost? Answer: Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are waiting just after midnight to see the Ghost.
  2. What action does the Ghost take when it appears to Hamlet and the others? Answer: The Ghost signals to Hamlet when it appears.
  3. After the Ghost signals to Hamlet, what does Hamlet do? Answer: Hamlet decides to go after the Ghost.
  4. Who joins Hamlet when he follows the Ghost, and why? Answer: Horatio and Marcellus follow Hamlet because they want to accompany and support him as he goes after the Ghost.
  5. What significant event unfolds as the Ghost appears and signals to Hamlet? Answer: Following the Ghost’s appearance and signaling to Hamlet, Hamlet’s decision to pursue the Ghost, with Horatio and Marcellus in tow, marks a critical moment where the story’s intrigue and mystery intensify.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

The Ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him that he was killed by poison poured into his ear by Claudius. The Ghost asks Hamlet to seek revenge but tells him to leave his mother’s judgment to heaven. As the Ghost disappears, Hamlet promises to remember his father. When Horatio and Marcellus show up, Hamlet keeps the conversation secret. The Ghost reappears, repeatedly asking them to promise not to tell what they’ve seen. Hamlet also tells them not to share the truth if he starts behaving strangely later on, and they promise. Hamlet feels upset about his duty to avenge such a terrible wrongdoing.

Questions on Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

  1. What crucial information does the Ghost of Hamlet’s father reveal to Hamlet? Answer: The Ghost informs Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius, who poured poison into his ear.
  2. What does the Ghost ask of Hamlet after revealing the truth about his murder? Answer: The Ghost asks Hamlet to seek revenge for his death but advises him to leave the judgment of his mother to heaven.
  3. How does Hamlet respond when Horatio and Marcellus arrive, and why does he keep the conversation secret? Answer: Hamlet keeps the conversation with the Ghost a secret when Horatio and Marcellus arrive, perhaps to protect the sensitive information and the Ghost’s demands.
  4. What happens when the Ghost reappears in front of Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus? Answer: The Ghost reappears and repeatedly asks them to promise not to disclose what they’ve seen or learned.
  5. What specific advice does Hamlet give to Horatio and Marcellus regarding his future behavior? Answer: Hamlet instructs them not to disclose the truth about what they’ve seen if he behaves strangely in the future.
  6. How does Hamlet feel about the duty of avenging his father’s murder after the Ghost’s revelations? Answer: Hamlet feels upset and burdened by the responsibility of avenging such a terrible wrongdoing.
  7. What significance does the promise made by Hamlet to remember his father hold in the storyline? Answer: Hamlet’s promise to remember and avenge his father’s death becomes a crucial driving force in the plot, leading to subsequent actions and dilemmas.
  8. What is the impact of the Ghost’s revelations on Hamlet’s emotional state and the secrecy he demands from his companions? Answer: The Ghost’s revelations deeply affect Hamlet, burdening him with the task of revenge, leading him to demand secrecy from Horatio and Marcellus regarding what they’ve witnessed. It also contributes to Hamlet’s internal turmoil and emotional distress.

Also, Read

Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 4

Hamlet Act 4

Hamlet Act 5

Hamlet Act 5

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