Hamlet essay topics

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Hamlet Essay Options
Select one of the following prompts to address in a 4-5 page paper (typed, double-spaced).
It is expected that your argument will be supported with not only specific text references,
but direct (cited) quotes whenever possible.
1.
Compare the 3 men of action--Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras--of this play. How successful is action versus contemplation in
this play? How does each character take action or contemplate taking action and how does that affect their success?
2.
Consider the Claudius-Gertrude relationship. Did Gertrude know of Claudius' murder of her first husband? What, if
anything, is Gertrude guilty of in the play?
3.
Analyze the enormous amount of play-acting within the play Hamlet. Many characters are forced to put on an act. How
does all of this relate to the The Mousetrap in Act III? Why is this mini-play at the center (literally) of Hamlet?
4.
What, exactly, is “rotten in the state of Denmark”?
5.
The play could be read as an examination of what happens to a world when it is completely dominated by men. An
argument can be made that it is essentially a cautionary, feminist examination of a world that is incapable of understanding
women, and therefore systematically destroys itself by denying women any kind of power or meaningful existence. Argue
for this point.
6.
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? What, if anything, does his presence add to the play as a whole?
Why did Shakespeare include this plot line?
7.
Does the text hold up to a Freudian reading of Hamlet's relationship with his mother? How does Hamlet's relationship with
Ophelia support, complicate or work against an oedipal interpretation of the play?
8.
The character Claudius has been compared to Macbeth. How similar are these two characters? In what ways are they
similar?
9.
Is Hamlet actually mad or merely acting mad? If he does not begin mad, at what point does this change and why?
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