Hamlet Journal Assignments

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare
AP English Literature
Journal Assignments

The following are journal entries for our reading of Hamlet. Each entry should be completed after we have finished reading and/or viewing that scene in class. The purpose is to prepare you for class discussion; therefore, you should have something written for each entry before we discuss it in class (even if it’s only a question). See Ms. M with questions ahead of time – don’t expect to be given answers in class! Be sure to cite textual evidence to support all your answers – remember to record act, scene and line numbers.

Entry 1 – Act I scene i
Consider Horatio’s account of the battle between old Hamlet and old Fortinbras and the descriptions of the late king
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How might this speech be read to support such an idea?
What, do you think, is the invited reading of the lines beginning, “So oft it chances in particular men…”? Is it to be read, for example, as a truth for all time or as Hamlet’s point of view and, therefore, open to question?

Entry 7 - Act I scenes iv and v
John Dover Wilson writes, “The first act is a little play in itself, and the Ghost the hero of it; 550 out of 850 lines are concerned with him…The Ghost is the linchpin of Hamlet; remove it and the play falls to pieces.” Consider what part the Ghost plays in Act I in the construction of the plot (i.e. what is his purpose and contribution?): before Hamlet’s first appearance (in I.i) in the scene with Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo (I.ii.165-275) in the scenes between Hamlet and the Ghost (I.iv.42-96; I.v.1-115).

Entry 8 - Act I scenes iv and v
Reread the exchange between Hamlet and the Ghost (I.v.1-115).
What does the Ghost’s reply to Hamlet’s comment, “Speak. I am bound to hear” (I.v.11) imply about the Ghost’s attitude to revenge and his conception of Hamlet’s duty? What other lines in this exchange support this reading?
What is Hamlet’s immediate reaction to the Ghost’s demand for revenge?

Entry 9 - Act I scenes iv and v
How are readers invited to read the Ghost’s advice to Hamlet? Cite evidence to support or refute a reading of the Ghost’s advice: as a father’s rightful request. as a duty to be carried out
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