Students read and analyze Laertes’s farewell monologue to Ophelia and a brief conversation between Ophelia and Laertes on lines 1–55 of Act 1.3. This selection provides an opportunity to engage with concepts such as gender roles, family duty, and chastity, which will be important for Ophelia’s character development and crucial to students’ understanding of the excerpt from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own later in the year.
- besmirch (v.)
- circumscribed (v.)
- prodigal (adj.)
- calumnious (adj.)
- imminent (adj.)
- wary (adj.)
- fashion (n.)
- libertine (n.)
Read Act 1.3 in its entirety (from “My necessaries are embarked. Farewell. / And, sister” to “Come your ways / I shall obey, my lord”). Note how Ophelia interacts with her brother and father.
What does Laertes mean when he uses the phrase “Hamlet, and the trifling of his favor” (line 6)?
How does Laertes describe Hamlet’s affection in lines 6–11? How does Laertes tell Ophelia to react to Hamlet’s affection?
How are Hamlet’s choices different from the choices of “unvalued persons” (line 22)? Whom do Hamlet’s choices affect?
According to Laertes, why is it that Hamlet’s “will is not his own” (line 20)?
What do lines 14–27 suggest about Laertes’s views about Hamlet?
What is Laertes’s concern for Ophelia?
What metaphor for Hamlet’s pursuit of Ophelia does Laertes develop in his speech? What is the impact of the metaphor?
How does Ophelia respond to Laertes’s advice about chastity?
What does Ophelia mean when she tells Laertes, “Do not as some ungracious pastors do” (line 51)?
What does the conversation between Ophelia and Laertes demonstrate about gender roles in the play?
Respond briefly in writing to the following prompt:
- How does Shakespeare develop the characters of Laertes and Ophelia in relation to one another?
Look at your texts and notes to find the most significant and relevant evidence, and to practice writing a strong introductory statement. Use this lesson’s vocabulary wherever possible and the Short Response Rubric and Checklist to guide your written responses.
In Act 1.3, how does Polonius’s tone toward Ophelia differ from Laertes’s tone toward Ophelia? Use evidence from the text to support your response.