The Hamlet Essay

The Hamlet Essay

There are three Shakespearian tragedies that are the favorites among most students (students that like Shakespeare, that is) – Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Typical of tragedies a la Shakespeare, each of these plays has a protagonist with a fatal flaw (two protagonists in the case of Romeo and Juliet) that ultimately does him/her in. In the case of Macbeth, for example, the fatal flaw was ambition. And each of these plays has several themes which are universal, that is, they exist through all time. These things – the fatal flaws and the themes – are common essay assignments in English lit classes.

The story of Hamlet is a simple one. The king of Denmark has been murdered by his brother and his married the brother’s widow. The form king and his wife had a son, Hamlet. A ghost appears telling Hamlet that Claudius has murdered his father and instructs him to avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius. The remainder of the plot deals with Hamlet’s indecision, period of madness, and procrastination, until finally the entire royal family is killed by poison.

Fortunately for students, Shakespeare’s themes and fatal flaws are quite obvious, so writing essay topics are pretty easy to identify. Here are a few for Hamlet that might interest you.

  • What is the function of the soliloquy that begins, “To be or not to be…that is the question?”
  • Literary analysts continue to argue about whether Hamlet’s madness was real or fake. What is your opinion, giving examples from the play to prove your point? Your opinion will be your Hamlet essay thesis.
  • What is Hamlet’s inner conflict? Why can’t he resolve it?
  • How is Claudius similar to Macbeth?
  • Incest is a minor theme in the play, portrayed by the relationships between Hamlet and Gertrude and between Laertes and Ophelia. Discuss examples from the play that demonstrate this theme.
  • One major theme is obviously revenge and justice. Is committing murder ever justified as a revenge act?
  • Hamlet’s indecisiveness if his fatal flaw. Many analysts attribute this to his religious beliefs. Provide examples from the play that show how religion factors into his inability to take decisive action in killing Claudius.
  • Write a Hamlet revenge essay discussing other steps Hamlet might have taken to get his revenge on Claudius and Gertrude.

Important Tips for Writing Your Hamlet Essay

  1. Any time you write an essay about a piece of literature, you must be certain to have a thesis statement in your introduction. To get a thesis statement, ask yourself a question or two. If, for example, your essay is to be on the topic of Hamlet’s indecisiveness, you might ask yourself what his indecisiveness ultimately caused. Your thesis statement, then, might be that Hamlet’s inability to make a decision to take swift action resulted in the deaths of many innocent people.
  2. When you write an essay on a literary work, each point you make must be backed up by actual text from the work. You cannot have an opinion unless you have evidence, and that evidence comes from the play itself.

Many students enjoy Shakespeare, but just as many do not. If you fall into the latter category, you might want to get some help from a professional essay writing service.