Look at the issue of fathers and sons. In Hamlet we find three almost
parallel sets of fathers and sons—King Hamlet and Hamlet, Polonius
and Laertes, and Old King Fortinbras and young Fortinbras. Each son
has had a father killed. Compare and contrast the three pairs. Why does
Shakespeare create these three parallel sets for Hamlet? Look at the play
as a whole. Look closely at individual lines. Develop a thesis, explore it,
and connect it to the rest of the play.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are relatively minor characters in the play;
nevertheless Tom Stoppard chose them as the main characters in his
absurdist play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in which Hamlet
is rewritten from their point of view. Examine Shakespeare’s creation of
these two characters. Write a character sketch of Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern using very specific lines and examples from the play to
support your points. What is their “role” in the play? Why include them
at all? What, if anything, is their significance?
Claudius says of Hamlet, “Madness in great ones must not unwatched
go” (III, i, 5) and Polonius says of Hamlet, “Though this be madness,
yet there is method in’t” (II, ii, 201). Is Hamlet mad? Is he simply
putting “an antic disposition on” as he suggests in Act I, scene v, line
171? Is there a point at which his play-acting becomes truth? Discuss the
role of madness in Hamlet. This is an easy topic with which to be glib.
Look closely and critically at this topic and go beyond the obvious.
Read about tragedy and the tragic hero in Abram’s A Glossary of Literary
Terms. Look at other definitions of “hero.” Is Hamlet a hero or not? Is
Hamlet’s death a tragic death? Support your points in the universe of the
play. Again, don’t be glib. Look closely and critically at this topic and go
beyond the obvious.
Examine the character of Ophelia. What is her relationship with her
father and brother? What is her relationship with...