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William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Today, we will begin our unit on one of William


Shakespeare's most famous plays -- Hamlet!!!

This exercise will allow you to explore web sites, so you may gain general
background knowledge on William Shakespeare, and will prepare you for the
play by making you answer general questions about its content.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

1. When and where was Shakespeare born?

William Shakespeare was believed to have been born in the Shakespeare family
home in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His actual date of birth
cannot be substantiated as at this time in England births were not formally
registered and Birth Certificates were not produced. His birth date can, however
be guessed as due to the high mortality rate of infants it was the custom of
Elizabethan parents to have their children baptized three days after their birth.
There is a record of William's baptism in the register of the Holy Trinity Parish
Church in Stratford dated 26th April 1564. Therefore the birthday of William
Shakespeare has been set as April 23rd 1564. But, as this is both the date of his
death 54 years later and St. George's Day, the coincidence may be too far-
fetched.

2. Who were Shakespeare's parents?

Mary Arden and John Shakespeare.

3. Who did Shakespeare marry?

William Shakespeare married, at the age of 18, the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway
in November 1582.

4. How many children did he have, and what were their names? Also, list
one interesting fact about one or all of his children.

Over the course of their marriage, the two had three children; Susanna, Hamnet,
and Judith, the latter two being twins. The twins were named after two very close
friends of William and Anne, the baker Hamnet Sadler and his wife, Judith.Their
only son, Hamnet, died when he was only 11.
5. For what theater company was Shakespeare both a stockholder and an
actor?

Shakespeare was a stockholder and an actor in a theater company called the


Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

6. Later, the company changed its name to The King's Men in honor of King
James I.

7. The company performed at and made famous what outdoor theater?

Globe Theatre or The Globe

8. Shakespeare's plays have been traditionally divided into three


categories. Please name them, and give two examples of each.

Shakespeare's plays are usually divided into three major categories. These are
comedy, tragedy, and history. Three plays which are in the category of comedy
are "The Comedy of Errors", "The Taming of the Shrew", and "The Two
Gentlemen of Verone". Three plays which are in the category of tragedy are
"Romeo and Juliet", "Titus Andronicus", and "Julius Caesar". In the category of
history, three plays are "Henry V", "Richard II", and "Richard III".

9. When did Shakespeare die?

William Shakespeare died at the age of 52, on April 23, 1616.

10. Extra Credit: What famous playwright is rumored to have faked his
death and assumed a new identity as William Shakespeare?

Christopher Marlowe. It has been speculated that Marlowe's recorded death in


1593 was faked for various reasons and that Marlowe went into hiding,
subsequently writing under the name of William Shakespeare; this is called the
Marlovian theory.
INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ON HAMLET

1. What type of play is Hamlet? (Under which category from question #8


does it fall?)

The play is categorized as a Tragedy.

2. Where is the setting of the play?

The setting for the play is Elsinore in eastern Denmark.

3. In the beginning, Hamlet is mourning the death of his father.

4. Hamlet's mother marries Claudius. What is his relation to Hamlet before


he marries Hamlet's mother?

He is the brother to King Hamlet, and so, Hamlet’s uncle.

5. The ghost of the answer to #3 demands that Hamlet do what to the


answer in #4?

The ghost of Hamlet’s father demands that Hamlet avenges him by killing his
assassin Claudius.

6. Ophelia is Hamlet's love when the play begins.

7. Who is Polonius?

Polonius is the father of Ophelia and Laertes, and Lord Chamberlain to King
Claudius.

8. The best known soliloquy in the play is Hamlet's to be or not to be


speech.