The movie we will be using for our primary text for this unit is the 1990 Frank Zeffirelli version starring Mel Gibson.




Watch the full movie on You Tube (but it will cost $2.99)

Cast of characters:

The Ghost


Much like Macbeth, Hamlet starts off with a supernatural scene. A couple of guys keep seeing a ghost and they bring in Hamlet's good buddy and BFF Horatio to see it as well.

Now, put yourself in Hamlet's shoes - you are off at college. You get a text from your mom that your father is dead. You are in the middle of exams and because the school is full of some really mean professors, you are not able to leave until exam week is over or else you will fail all of your courses. You cannot afford to do that. So you stay and miss your father's funeral. You finally get home two weeks after your father's deatha nd find that your mother is not sad. In fact, she is happy and in love. Not only that, she is already remarried. Not only that, but she married your uncle - your father's brother. You never liked him. He always complained about your father taking on the family business and the way he always looked at your mother - well..., let's just say CREEPY. That's how Hamlet enters this play. Not only that, but his father's ghost visits him and reveals that the uncle killed him. His father's ghost then goes on to demand that his son avenge his death by murdering the uncle. What woudl you do in Hamlet's place?

Tell me that's not a story worth hearing!

Here is Hamlet after his mother and new step father tell him to stop being so down and depressed.


Hamlet sees the ghost:












To Thine Ownself Be True

Polonius gives advice to his son Laertes just before Laertes goes to France. Complete the Google doc before test time:



Poor Ophelia

Ophelia is caught in the middle here. It seems that she is indeed younger than Hamlet (if he is 16-18, then she is probably 14-15) and it also seems that she does have affections for him as well. However, her father has forbidden her to see him, which she feels she must obey, and Hamlet holds it against her some that she is allowing herself to be used by Polonius and Claudius to trick him. So he mistreats her. Ophelia is not the tragic hero here, but is a very tragic figure indeed.

To Be or Not to Be

EdPuzzle - check your email for how to set up an account that will add you to my class.

1st period

2nd period

3rd period

The movie clip

Here is another famous version of the same scene, with a few distinctions:

Which word to stress?


The Mousetrap

"The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."

Shakespeare is in your face with this one. Hamlet needs to find out if Claudius really did do it or if the ghost he saw was some evil spirit leading him down the wrong path. So, why not use a play? The play reinacts the murder of King Hamlet and Hamlet watches Claudius to see if he acts strangely upon seeing this. Now get the meaning of the play's title of The Mousetrap?


The Queen's Bedchamber


Why does Hamlet kill Polonius?

There are two answers - one is that he thinks it is Claudius. Many analysis sites will tell you such, but it makes no sense as he just passed Claudius in the prayer room. The other, and in my opinion, better, answer is that Hamlet suspects a trap. Consider:

  • Hamlet doesn't know how much his mother was in on the murder of his father.
  • Hamlet suspects a trap - after all, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern told him to go see her and Hamlet knows he can't trust these morons.
  • Gertrude confuses him by calling out for help. She thinks he is going to murder her - after all, he does have his sword out and he did say something about seeing the inside of her. This throws Hamlet off.
  • Polonius starts yelling "Help!" from behind the curtain. At this point, Hamlet is pretty sure that he has been set up and that this is a trap. So it doesn't matter who is behind the curtain to him.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

These two fools betray their friend and end up paying the price for it. The letter the king gives them for the death of Hamlet is changed by Hamlet. So they end up delievering their own death sentences. Idiots.


Alas Poor Yorick!


The Rest Is Silence



Here is the whole ending, but teh David Tennant version. It has an updated setting: