hamlet essay

WHAT: A formal, structured essay on ONE of the following topics. It is to be no less than 800 words (typed, double-spaced) using references from the text. You must HIGHLIGHT YOUR THESIS STATEMENT where it occurs.

1. The structure of drama is sometimes based on the principle of action followed by reaction. Cite examples in Hamlet of a character’s own actions backfiring or reacting against him—a pattern that the Greeks called nemesis.

2. How can Hamlet be considered a “Tragic Hero”? What is his “Tragic Flaw”?

3. Next to Hamlet, arguably the most complex character in the play is Claudius. Write an essay that considers the complex and often contradictory nature of Claudius’ character. This essay must look beyond the fact that Claudius is a murderer (or not-depending on your perspective) who has usurped his brother’s throne and married his brother’s wife. It must also consider his effectiveness or ineffectiveness as a political figure, and determine at precisely what point Claudius makes the transition from one to another

4. How does the question of appearance and reality affect the meaning of the play?

5. As is so often the case with Shakespeare’s works, the women of Hamlet wind up being portrayed in a less than positive light, and certainly meet with a less than desirable end. Write an essay that examines the way(s) in which either Gertrude or Ophelia as characters are portrayed by Shakespeare. More specifically, you must make inferences on the ways in which this portrayal may be a reflection of the author’s view towards women and their role in the social construct of the 17th century. Finally, you should consider in what way(s) a modern reader’s view may or may not have changed over the course of the last 400 years.

6. Emotion, reason and fate (i.e. time and accident) are key aspects of what happens in the play. Discuss how these elements interact to create tensions in the play and the role each plays in determining events in the play.

7. Is the stratagem of feigned madness necessary to Hamlet’s purposes? If you are of the opinion that the “madness” is not necessary to Hamlet’s purposes, why then did Shakespeare add the element of feigned madness to the play?

8. Comparative Literature: Compare the dramatic conclusions of other tragedies by Shakespeare or compare Hamlet’s plight with another literary figure.

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