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Essay Topics For Shakespeare's Hamlet: 20 Great Questions


The Bard, as Shakespeare is sometimes called, created or made popular many of the most cherished stories in English literature. Among these is ‘Hamlet’ a dark tale full of death, intrigue, ghosts and other things. It is a tragedy but in classic Shakespearean style, there is still a dash of comic relief provided by the grave diggers.

In the event that you have cause to write about this play, there are endless topics from which to choose. There are unanswered questions galore that you can weave a great paper from, As you start the brainstorming process, you can ponder on the following for inspiration:

  1. Could Hamlet’s obsession with death (especially at his own hands) be considered indicative of a more pervasive depressed state or other psychological issue?

  2. Why is the character of Polonius so seldom taken seriously?

  3. What is the deeper significance of the phrase “To thine own self be true”?

  4. Is there a bit of the Oedipal complex at work behind Hamlet’s superficial disapproval of his mother’s sex life?

  5. Why does vengeance take so long to be accomplished?

  6. What makes Fortinbras so confident of his ability to vouch for Hamlet’s character?

  7. How does mimicking psychological disturbance play a major role in the unfolding of the plot?

  8. How would you characterize Hamlet’s true feelings toward Ophelia?

  9. Are the comedic element that are interspersed within the play out of place?

  10. Does Ophelia present a realistic image of victim-hood?

  11. How many characters has Shakespeare created who bear similarities to Hamlet?

  12. Describe King Claudius as clearly as possible given the available source.

  13. How does righteousness recur as a theme throughout the play?

  14. Why does Gertrude disregard Claudius’ request in the fifth act?

  15. How does the Ghost’s speech affect the lives of the characters in the play?

  16. How does Polonios’ fatherly advice to Laertes affect his decisions from there on?

  17. Is Ophelia being made to pay for the mistakes and misdeeds of others?

  18. How does Ulric’s skull convey the darkness of the play?

  19. How well does the titular character bear the burden of being Prince of Denmark?

  20. How has the English language been enriched by phrases coined within this play?

A competent writer can do well with any of these. Try them out for size if you need practice or to gain more confidence in your writing.