Reading Response Post

Note that you can use the prompts as you see fit: do not feel as if you need to address every point a prompt brings up. Also, if you have a particular question or idea that is not covered by a prompt and about which you want to post, go ahead. In most cases, though, the prompts will focus your thoughts and help you do a better job on this assignment. Regardless, always change your post’s subject-line so that it reflects your focus.
Hamlet does not appear in this play until Scene 2. Normally, especially in plays written in Shakespeare’s era, tragedies begin with the main character. Why do you think Shakespeare decided to delay Hamlet’s entrance and begin the play with Horatio, the guards, and the ghost?
Claudius begins Act 1, Scene 2 with a speech to the royal court at Elsinore. His brother King Hamlet has died, and he has married his brother’s widow and claimed the throne, even though conventionally the line of succession passes to a king’s son, not brother (or even wife). Denmark had an elected monarchy, which means that succession was not automatic: the nobles had to approve the new king. What explanation for his actions does he provide? How persuasive do you find it? Can you see anything wrong with it?
In the Elizabethan understanding of psychology, Hamlet is what was called melancholy — which means largely what it means now, but was associated specifically with an intellectual (as opposed to emotional) character. Find evidence for this diagnosis of his problem. Do you think he is mentally ill? Would we call him depressed? (Then again, at times he seems almost manic.) Are his feelings under the circumstances justified?
Why does Laertes warn Ophelia about Hamlet? Why does Polonius order her to avoid him in the future? What do they have against him? Do they have the same reasons for their warnings?