Act 3 notes
 Turning
Point: Hamlet stabs and kills
Polonius, thinking that he was actually
Claudius hiding behind the curtains
 WHY?
Hamlet has killed the wrong guy
This will upset Ophelia and anger Laertes
He finally takes action, but it’s on the wrong
What will Claudius do to Hamlet now that he is
considered a murderer?
The scene opens with Gertrude and Claudius
asking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if they’ve
found out the cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.
 Hamlet enters and delivers his To Be or not To Be
speech in which he discusses life and death as
well as the “whips and scorns of time.”
 Ophelia then enters, and Polonius and Claudius
spy on them.
 Ophelia attempts to return Hamlet’s gifts and he
gets upset and speaks harshly to her.
 Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England at
the end of the scene.
Hamlet begins to rehearse with the players. He
instructs them not to over-act during the play.
 Hamlet asks Horatio to observe the king’s
reaction to the play to see if he thinks Claudius
is guilty.
 The entire court enters to watch The Murder of
 Hamlet gets the reaction he was looking for: his
mother seems unaware, but Claudius yells for
the lights and stops the play.
 Hamlet now knows that he is guilty.
 Hamlet’s mother wishes to speak privately to
Hamlet, and he explains to the audience that he
will “speak daggers” to her.
The King instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
to escort Hamlet to England. He must dispose of
him quickly.
 Polonius explains that he will hide behind the
curtains during Hamlet’s meeting with his
mother (more spying).
 Claudius delivers his first soliloquy and begins to
pray for God’s forgiveness.
 Hamlet enters and sees Claudius on his knees
begging for forgiveness. This is his perfect
chance to kill Claudius, but he doesn’t take it
because he does not want Claudius to go to
heaven (his tragic flaw: over thinking, inaction)
Polonius is hiding behind the curtains in the
Queen’s closet when the scene opens.
 Hamlet explains to his mother that her marriage
to Claudius has really destroyed him.
 The ghost enters, but only Hamlet can see her.
This makes the queen think Hamlet is mad for
 Hamlet orders his mother not to return to her
incestuous bed. As the conversation becomes
heated, Polonius stirs behind the curtains.
 Hamlet believes this to be Claudius, pulls out his
dagger, stabs and kills Polonius.
 He then lugs Polonius’ body off stage.
 “How
smart a lash that speech doth give my
conscience.” –Claudius, III.i.57-58
 “Get thee to a nunnery.” –Hamlet, III.i.131
 “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.” –
Ophelia, III.i.163
 “For anything so o’erdone is from the
purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is to hold, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature.” –Hamlet, III.ii.2124
 “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
–Gertrude, III.ii.254
 “I
will speak daggers to her , but use none.”
–Hamlet, III.ii.429
 “Forgive me my foul murder?/That cannot
be, since I am still possessed/of those effects
for which I did the murder:/my crown, mine
own ambition, and my queen.” –Claudius,
 “What have I done, that thou dar’st wag they
tounge/in noise so rude against me?” –
Gertrude, III.iv.47-48
 “You would play upon me, you would seem to know my
stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery.”
 “Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?”
 “O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever the soul of
Nero enter this firm bosom.”
 “How smart a lash that speech doth give my
Hamlet’s 3rd soliloquy: To Be or not To Be..
 Questions whether or not he should live or die
 Identifies the “whips and scorns of time” that make life
difficult to live
 Chooses life since he is unsure of what the afterlife may

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