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Hamlet: Essay Topics

1) Conflict is essential to drama. Show that Hamlet presents both an outward and inward conflict.

2) How do Hamlet's seven soliloquies reveal his character?

3) Is Hamlet primarily a tragedy of revenge?

4) Discuss Hamlet's relationship with Gertrude.

5) How important is the general setting of Denmark to the overall play.

6) Of what significance is Ophelia to Hamlet? Was Hamlet truly in love with Ophelia?

7) The character Claudius has been compared to Macbeth. How similar are these two characters? In what ways are they similar?

8) Compare and contrast the characters of Hamlet and Horatio. How alike or dislike are they and why?

9) In Act 5, scene 2, Hamlet remarks, "His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy." Explain Hamlet's motivation behind this comment and examine how true is his remark.

10) Compare and contrast the characters of Hamlet and Fortinbras. Is Fortinbras a valuable character in his own right or does he serve only to highlight aspects of Hamlet's personality?

11) What is Goethe's opinion of Hamlet? Do you agree with his famous conclusions?

12) Discuss the references to the English stage of Shakespeare's own time in Act II.


More Resources

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
 Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?

 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

Research Your Topic

 Revenge in Hamlet
 Deception in Hamlet
 The Hamlet and Ophelia Subplot
 The Norway (Fortinbras) Subplot

 Hamlet: Problem Play and Revenge Tragedy
 The Elder Hamlet: The Kingship of Hamlet's Father
 Hamlet's Relationship with the Ghost
 The Significance of the Ghost in Armor

 Philological Examination Questions on Hamlet
 Quotations from Hamlet (with commentary)
 Hamlet Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Hamlet: Q & A

 The Significance of Ophelia's Flowers
 Ophelia and Laertes
 Mistrusted Love: Ophelia and Polonius
 Ophelia's Burial and Christian Rituals
 The Baker's Daughter: Ophelia's Nursery Rhymes

 Hamlet as National Hero
 Claudius and the Condition of Denmark
 In Secret Conference: The Meeting Between Claudius and Laertes
 The Charges Against King Claudius

 O Jephthah - Toying with Polonius
 The Death of Polonius and its Impact on Hamlet's Character
 Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet
 Hamlet's Silence
 Analysis of the Characters in Hamlet

 An Excuse for Doing Nothing: Hamlet's Delay
 Shakespeare's Fools: The Grave-Diggers in Hamlet
 Hamlet's Humor: The Wit of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark
 All About Yorick

 Hamlet's Melancholy: The Transformation of the Prince
 Hamlet's Antic Disposition: Is Hamlet's Madness Real?
 Foul Deeds Will Rise: Hamlet and Divine Justice

 Soliloquy Analysis: O this too too... (1.2.131)
Soliloquy Analysis: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!... (2.2.555-612)
Soliloquy Analysis: To be, or not to be... (3.1.64-98)
Soliloquy Analysis: Tis now the very witching time of night... (3.2.380-91)
Soliloquy Analysis: Now might I do it pat... (3.3.77-100)
Soliloquy Analysis: How all occasions do inform against me... (4.4.35-69)

Divine Providence in Hamlet
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Sources for Hamlet