Hamlet — Lesson 9

GoogleDocs format

Students continue their analysis of Hamlet’s third soliloquy in Act 2.2, lines 616–634, with a focus on how the introduction of a key plot point—that Hamlet will stage a play to determine the guilt of his uncle—serves to move the play along as well as further develop Hamlet’s character. Students discuss how these elements—plot, character, order of action—interact in order to develop the drama.


  1. blench (v.)
  2. about (v.)
  3. cunning (n.)
  4. malefactions (n.)

Listen / Read-Along

Listen to a reading of Hamlet’s third soliloquy, Act 2.2, lines 576–634 (from “Now I am alone / O, what a rogue” to “Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King”). Instruct students to listen for what decision Hamlet makes to determine the guilt of his uncle.

Read and Answer Questions

Read Hamlet’s third soliloquy, Act 2.2, lines 607–634 (from “Bloody, bawdy villain! / Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless / villain!” to “Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”) and answer the following questions as you go along.

  1. Whom does Hamlet describe in lines 607–609? What evidence in the text supports your response?
  2. How does Hamlet describe himself in lines 611–616? What reason does he give for this description?
  3. How does Shakespeare further develop central ideas in lines 607–616?
  4. What does Hamlet mean by “Fie upon ‘t! Foh! About, my brains!” (lines 616–617)?
  5. Why does Hamlet describe the scene as “cunning” (line 619)?
  6. Summarize Hamlet’s reasoning in lines 616–621.
  7. What does Hamlet mean by “For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak / With most miraculous organ” (lines 622–623)? How does Shakespeare’s use of personification impact your understanding of these lines?
  8. What does Hamlet plan to do?
  9. What does Hamlet mean by “if he do blench / I know my course” (lines 626–627)?
  10. What are Hamlet’s fears about the ghost of his father?
  11. How does Act 2.2, lines 627–632 develop a central idea of revenge that is also addressed in Act 1.5, lines 99–102?
  12. What does “this” mean in Hamlet’s statement: “I’ll have grounds / More relative than this” (Act 2.2, lines 632–633)? What does Hamlet mean by this statement?

Quick Write (10-15 minute paragraph)

Respond briefly in writing to the following prompt:

  • How does Hamlet’s decision to stage a play impact the action of the drama?

Look at your texts and notes to find evidence and to practice writing introductory and concluding statements that introduce the topic and explain the significance or implications of their response. Use this lesson’s vocabulary wherever possible and use the Short Response Rubric and Checklist to guide written responses.


Select one of Hamlet’s first three soliloquies. In this soliloquy, how does Shakespeare develop Hamlet’s character in relation to other characters? Use evidence from the play to support your answer.
[Prepares you for your formal writing on the Mid-Unit Assessment.]