107 Exceptional Hamlet Essay Topics: Questions & Prompts

Essay Topics

Every academic paper starts with a captivating idea, and Hamlet research paper or essay shouldn’t be an exception. In the list below, our team has collected unique and inspiring topics for you. You can use them in your writing or develop your own idea according to the format.

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Here are some Hamlet essay topics for you:

  1. Elaborate on the weather in Denmark.
    How does it reflect the state of affairs and mood in the country? How does it change throughout the play? Start this Hamlet essay by describing the foggy weather in the first scene and gradually provide more examples as evidence.
  2. Think of irony in Hamlet.
    How and for what purposes did Shakespeare incorporate it in the play? Provide examples of the lines and situations that can be considered ironic.
  3. Reflect on Gertrude’s marriages.
    Why did she marry Claudius? Did they have an affair when King Hamlet was alive? Or did she agree on the new marriage to help the country?
  4. Compare and contrast Claudius and King Oedipus from Oedipus the King.
    What character traits do they share? Who is a better politician? Why?
  5. Explain whether you think Gertrude is on Hamlet’s or Claudius’ side.
    Did she switch the side by the end of the play? Analyze her conversation with Hamlet and how she later told Claudius that Hamlet was mad. Why did she drink the suspicious (poisoned) wine?
  6. Analyze the fact that dying Hamlet asked Horatio to spread his story.
    Will Horatio retell it without changes? Can he tell the truth about what happened at all?
  7. Examine an approach to violence in Hamlet.
    Are violence and aggression excessive in the play? How do characters react to it? Comment on how violence is mainly linked to vengeance.
  8. Consider the Ghost of Old Hamlet and all his appearances in Hamlet.
    Who saw him? Who do you think can see him? In your Hamlet essay, analyze every scene where he occurred and elaborate on why he did so.
  9. Talk about the relationship between Gertrude and Old Hamlet.
    Analyze what we know about their marriage and her reaction to her husband’s death.
    Did Gertrude see the Ghost in the scene with Hamlet? Could she have pretended that she didn’t?
  10. If Hamlet had survived, would he have been a good king?
    Analyze his strengths and weaknesses concerning the matter. Did he prove to be a good leader or politician in the play? Consider that Fortinbras explicitly stated that Hamlet could’ve become a good ruler.
  11. Elaborate on the way Hamlet killed Polonius in act 3, scene 4.
    Why did Hamlet act so quickly and calmly when he hesitates to kill his enemy, Claudius? Was this murder intentional? Did Hamlet regret it or freak out about it?
  12. Explore Hamlet’s mental state.
    How did grief affect him? His depression and suicidal tendencies are apparent. How do they change throughout the play?
  13. Compare Hamlet’s attitude towards the only women in the play, Ophelia and Gertrude.
    Why does he shame both of them for their sexual relationships? Examine his dialogues with his mother and his (ex)girlfriend, where he expresses cruelty.
    Elaborate on how his mother’s remarriage affected his relationships with the women.
  14. Examine the madness that Hamlet may or may not obtain.
    Thanks to his dialogue with Horatio, we know that he fakes his insanity. But could it have changed by the end of the play? What could’ve caused it? Analyze the evidence of his abnormal behavior and whether you can consider it natural, not acted.
  15. Analyze how Hamlet reflects on suicide.
    Provide examples from the soliloquies where Hamlet presumably tells the truth about his feelings. He considers suicide as an option, way out of the situation. Why doesn’t he commit it? Or was his death close to suicide?
  16. Consider whether the Ghost exists or not.
    A few people have seen him, but may it have been a case of mass hysteria? Hamlet may have gone mad over the death of his father and his mother’s remarriage. What if he imagined his dialogues with deceased King Hamlet? Provide evidence for that opinion or refute it.
  17. Elaborate on Hamlet’s trust issues.
    He suspects everyone from the start except for one person. Why does Hamlet trust Horatio? Analyze how the prince never lies during their conversations, even when the truth is a little insane. Why does Horatio believe everything he says?
  18. Examine friendship in Hamlet.
    Most of the relationships in the play are based on manipulation and benefit. Who can you see as friends in Hamlet? Reflect on whether Hamlet values his friendship with Horatio. What can you say about Hamlet’s friends from childhood?
  19. Analyze the literary period during which Shakespeare came up with Hamlet.
    What features of the Elizabethan era does he illustrate in the play? Examplify various scenes and dialogues to prove your point.
  20. Consider prominent theatrical productions of Hamlet.
    How did they change over the centuries? What does modern theatre do that the Medieval one could not? Did theatrical performances evolve?
  21. Compare and contrast the original play and Lion King by Disney corporation.
    What are the key differences that were made in the cartoon? Why did Disney decide to come up with them? Analyze which version do you like more and why.
  22. Comment on the theme of death and mortality
    What events and objects made Hamlet obsessed with death? Elaborate on the role that religion plays in his considerations concerning the matter.
  23. Examine Claudius’ soliloquy.
    What’s its role in the play? What’s the crucial idea of his speech? Elaborate on the reasons why Claudius, the villain, has a soliloquy in Hamlet.
  24. Analyze all the symbols of death in the play
    What symbols from Hamlet refer to mortality? Speculate whether you can call fences, poison, unweeded gardens, flowers, and so on a symbol of death.
  25. Explore the conflicts of Hamlet.
    The play combines inner and outer conflicts, which are addressed mainly through Hamlet’s monologues. List the fundamental oppositions and lines that exemplify them.
  26. Reflect on Hamlet’s relationship with Gertrude
    Why is he upset with her? How does it affect his actions and opinion about all the women? Does Gertrude love her son?
  27. Analyze the setting of the play.
    Does the fact that Hamlet takes place in Denmark play any crucial role? Speculate why Shakespeare may have decided upon this country and support your opinion with evidence.
  28. Elaborate on Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia.
    Does the prince consider her significant? Does he care about her? Compare how he treated Ophelia before and after her death.
  29. Comment on Hamlet’s religious beliefs
    Does religion have an impact on the prince’s decisions? Why is Hamlet considered a protestant? Prove your point by providing evidence from the play.
  30. Reflect on the theme of revenge
    Why does everyone value revenge in the play? Why do people passionately seek it in the society presented in Hamlet? Elaborate on what impact it has on the characters’ motivations and decisions.
  31. Consider the language of Hamlet.
    Explain that Shakespeare’s play is well-known for its rich language and broad vocabulary. He composed a few characters who pay close attention to the words they say and hear. Why is language crucial for Hamlet?
  32. Examine Fortinbras.
    Who is he? Why is he a character foil for Hamlet? Analyze why he succeeded in everything he did and even became the king of Denmark.
  33. Analyze imagery and descriptions in the play.
    How does Shakespeare enhance each scene by alternating descriptions of the weather and nature? Provide examples of prominent images presented in the play and elaborate on their purpose.
  34. Compare Hamlet to Oedipus Rex.
    What do the characters of the famous plays have in common? Do they have a similar goal? Elaborate on how their character traits affect the endings of the respective plays.
  35. Explore the deception in Hamlet.
    What things and events are built on lies? Why and how do characters try to manipulate each other throughout the whole play?
  36. Elaborate on the imagery of rot and diseases
    How do unweeded gardens reflect the state of affairs? Explain how ill atmosphere foreshadows and represents problems caused by the actions of the royal court’s members.
  37. Comment on the role of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the play.
    Speculate whether they are simply comic relief characters or they have another purpose in Hamlet. Why did Shakespeare decide that he needed such characters in the play?
  38. Analyze Gertrude’s attitude towards Ophelia.
    Elaborate on the scenes where Gertrude communicates with Ophelia and mentions her. What does the queen think of her and her relationships with Hamlet? How does Gertrude comments on Ophelia’s death?
  39. Compare Hamlet’s and Horatio’s character traits.
    In what ways are they different and similar? What Horatio’s qualities Hamlet explicitly admires and lacks?
  40. Speculate on Shakespeare’s opinion about theatre.
    Examine a few references to the English stage of the Elizabethan era that the author put in the play in Act 2. How does he comment on the theatre of his own time through Hamlet’s lines of dialogue?
  41. Explore the relationships between Hamlet and Claudius.
    Why does Hamlet suspect his uncle from the start? Does Claudius think of Hamlet as dangerous? When does he become highly aware of his nephew’s capabilities?
  42. Consider the death of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
    When and how did they die? Why does a reader find out about it after the deaths of the royal family members? Speculate on the reasons why it was structured to be so anticlimactic. Why did W. S. Gilbert write a short comic play about them?
  43. Analyze the reception and comprehension of Hamlet.
    Why is it one of the most popular Shakespeare’s plays even today? Is it still relevant? Explain why nowadays our understanding of the play differs from the one from the writer’s era.
  44. Comment on the appearance vs. reality in Hamlet.
    Why do so many characters pretend to have another personality or obtain character traits that they don’t have? Why does Hamlet see through the pretense?
  45. Elaborate on Ophelia’s death.
    Was it a suicide, how gravediggers presumed, or an accident, as Gertrude claimed? Explain in your Hamlet essay the reasons for Ophelia to commit suicide. Did she have a choice?
  46. Reflect on political corruption.
    What characters represent corrupted politicians in the play? How do they manipulate public opinion?
  47. Analyze one movie adaptation of Hamlet.
    Write about the changes that were made in the film version. What differences from the play did you like? What changes were you surprised to see?
  48. Examine the political situation in the play.
    What war did Fortinbras lead? Why? How does it affect Denmark during the play and after it’s the last scene?
  49. Explore the role of women in Hamlet.
    The play presents the social norms that were relevant for people of this period. What parts of women’s lives did men explicitly control? Provide examples from the play.
  50. Compare Laertes and Hamlet.
    Laertes is known as Hamlet’s character foil. Examine similarities and differences in their character traits.
  51. Consider the doubt and indecisiveness of Hamlet.
    Why are such traits uncommon for the genre? What do they say about the prince as a character? Explain how these qualities affect the plot and Hamlet’s thought process.
  52. Elaborate on the symbolism in the play.
    Finding symbolism can be challenging as the interpretations differ. Some individuals consider particular objects as symbols, while others don’t. What do you view as examples of symbolism in the play? Why? What role do they play in understanding the story?
  53. Reflect on the Oedipus complex.
    Comment on whether Hamlet has it or not. Provide evidence from the play, especially from the scene with Gertrude, to prove your point. How can this idea be approached on the stage? Find examples of theatrical productions where Hamlet and Gertrude had a conversation in her closet.
  54. Compare and contrast Claudius and Polonius.
    What character traits do they have in common? Explain how they are not who they are trying to appear. Who is better at lying and manipulating others? Why?
  55. Examine how revenge affected characters in Hamlet.
    Three characters wish to avenge their fathers: Laertes, Hamlet, and Fortinbras. How does revenge affect their lives? Who succeeded in getting their revenge?
  56. Consider the family theme.
    What role does family play for various characters? Elaborate on how blood ties motivate multiple characters.
  57. Reflect on Yorick’s role in the play.
    Who was Yorick? What impact did he have on Hamlet during the prince’s childhood and present time? Elaborate on how Yorick led Hamlet to his last soliloquy.
  58. Analyze the religious conflict of the play.
    How did events from Shakespeare’s time affect the theme of religion? Explain how Hamlet presents the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism through the prince and King Hamlet.
  59. Comment on the theme of madness.
    Who went mad in the play? Compare Hamlet’s and Laerte’s insanity to Ophelia’s one. How was her madness different from the other examples?
  60. Explore Polonius’ character.
    What was Polonius’ motivation throughout the play? Whom did he manipulate, and why? Explain why he tried to appear a good person and a parent.
  61. Elaborate on the reasons why Hamlet is the protagonist of the story.
    What makes him a tragic hero? Why is he considered a good person after every crime he committed and every cruel thing he said to his mother and Ophelia?
  62. Think of the conflict of good and evil.
    What imagery is associated with each of them in the play? Does evil spread like a disease?
  63. Explain how Hamlet differs from other plays of Shakespeare’s time.
    What new features and connections within the story did the writer present? How did Shakespeare make characters contribute to the plot?
  64. Analyze the “To be or not to be” speech.
    It’s one of the most famous lines in history, but what meaning is behind it? Elaborate on the circumstances around the monologue and whether Hamlet is partially lying.
  65. Reflect on performances of Hamlet.
    Choose a couple of performances on the stage or in a movie and compare them. Whose version of the character you prefer and why?
  66. Elaborate on the movie Ophelia (2018).
    What’s intriguing about a story told from Ophelia’s point of view? Exemplify the differences from the original play and how the change of perspective affected the story.
  67. Explore Hamlet’s obsession with inaction and action.
    What stops Hamlet from acting decisively? Exemplify situations from the play when characters act quickly, without any doubt compared to Hamlet’s almost constant hesitance.
  68. Compare Hamlet and King Lear.
    What similar character traits have an impact on the respective plays? Can we call the prince and the king victims of the social norms?
  69. Think of how the play’s themes are relevant nowadays.
    Which of them remained timeless, relevant for any period? Are any themes become obsolete and useless in today’s world? Elaborate on each theme separately with examples from the play.
  70. Reflect on Hamlet’s mood swings.
    Provide examples of how the prince’s mood affects his actions and speech. What can and did influence his mood?
  71. Examine Polonius’ death.
    Why was he hiding behind the tapestry during the scene? Was it his idea? How did he die? Elaborate on irony in the way he was murdered. How did it affect the plot?
  72. Analyze Hamlet as an actor.
    Is he good at playing a character? Elaborate on his dialogue with the First Player and his opinion about acting.
  73. Consider the motif of betrayal.
    Who betrays Hamlet? Explain how the attitude towards this act varies from character to character. How does Hamlet’s betrayal affect Ophelia?
  74. Explore the connection between honor and revenge.
    Explain why it’s the principal motivation for such characters as Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras. Comment on scenes where it reveals itself through actions and conversations.
  75. Elaborate on Hamlet’s death.
    Was it the only logical conclusion for Hamlet’s psychological and emotional development? Was he satisfied?
  76. Comment on the genre of the play.
    Can we call it revenge tragedy without any reservation? How did Shakespeare ruin the genre by Hamlet?
  77. Compare Hamlet and the Ghost.
    What can you say about the language that the characters use? List the lines that state that Hamlet and the Ghost look similar.
  78. Think of the father-son relationships in the play.
    Analyze the relationships between Hamlet and King Hamlet and compare them to those of Laertes and Polonius. Which features are common for both of them?
  79. Elaborate on the name Hamlet.
    What does it mean? What’s its country of origin? Add a sentence or two about Amleth.
  80. Consider allusions to historical figures in the play.
    Why does Hamlet mention Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar in act 5? Why did Shakespeare include allusions at all?
  81. Examine soliloquies in Hamlet.
    What’s their role in the play? Provide lines from soliloquies that let us dive into the thoughts and intentions of a character. Does anyone lie during such a speech?
  82. Compare the two film adaptations of the play.
    Elaborate on different film techniques and alterations of the plot. Concentrate on one scene in particular and explain what changes were made.
  83. Explore Hamlet’s nihilism.
    When does Hamlet start to display features that are inherent to this school of thought? Explain how the prince came to nihilism, what pushed him to this.
  84. List the most painful moments of Hamlet’s life and elaborate on them.
    Include events that happened before the first act and within the play. Prove your point with evidence from the prince’s lines.
  85. Think of what poison represents.
    What does it refer to? Who dies from poison in the play?
  86. Consider the play from the public’s perspective.
    How does Claudius manipulate the public’s opinion? What do people think of the new king and Hamlet?
  87. Compare and contrast Gertrude and Ophelia.
    What traits do they have in common? Explain differences and similarities in their affection towards Hamlet. Who controls these women?
  88. Elaborate on the villain of the story.
    Who can be considered an antagonist of the play? Why do some people regard Hamlet as a villain?
  89. Imagine how Hamlet could’ve reacted to modern society.
    What aspects of the future would he appreciate? What social norms would shock him? Would he be more comfortable in our period?
  90. Evaluate all the relationships in Hamlet’s life.
    What’s the most significant one? Why? What relationships changed throughout the play?
  91. Comment on contradictions in the play.
    What contradictions does Hamlet face? Is he himself a contradictory character? Provide examples of Hamlet’s contradictions
  92. Explore the fencing in the last scene of Hamlet.
    What does it contribute to the story? Does it affect the end of the duel?
  93. Elaborate on the gravediggers.
    How did their job affect their attitude towards death? Comment on their humor and whether it’s a coping mechanism. Does it illustrate their perception of life?
  94. Compare Claudius and King Hamlet.
    What qualities differentiate them? What do they have in common? Speculate on who was a more talented politician and a better leader.
  95. Think of comic relief in Hamlet.
    Comment on how Polonius, Osric, gravediggers, and Hamlet’s dialogues with them enlighten the mood. Was the humor appropriate for revenge tragedies before Shakespeare?
  96. Consider foreshadowing in the play.
    What events are foreshadowed early on in Hamlet? Present lines and features from act 1 that indicate the tragic end.
  97. Elaborate on justice and truth.
    How does Shakespeare show attitude towards justice common for this time? Does Hamlet approach fairness differently from the others? Elaborate on how Hamlet both pursue the truth and ignores it.
  98. Examine the “Get thee to a nunnery, go.” sentence.
    Why did Hamlet say so to Ophelia? What made the prince think that she was vicious?
  99. Comment on Hamlet’s cruelty.
    When does Hamlet become cruel towards other characters? Is he cruel towards himself? Analyze situations where Hamlet talks viciously and whether it’s intentional or not.
  100. Explore Hamlet’s character.
    Why is the prince such an unusual figure for revenge tragedies? Explain how Shakespeare created the hero who struggles to act with firmness and constantly reflects on his actions and decisions. Is he easy to understand and relate to?
  101. Analyze the play within the play.
    What’s its role in plot development? Why did Hamlet let the play take place? Explain what scene he added and why. Elaborate on the title The Mousetrap.
  102. Examine the consequences of revenge.
    What conclusion does Shakespeare provide for the theme of revenge? Explain how does it influence the deaths of Hamlet and Laertes, the absolute victory of Fortinbras.
  103. Reflect on Hamlet’s hesitance to kill Claudius.
    Why does he consider murdering his uncle in act 1? What stops him? Illustrate all the occasions when Hamlet could’ve killed Claudius but didn’t, and one time he did. What pushed him in the end?
  104. Compare Claudius to Laertes.
    Are there any similarities? How do these characters form an alliance by the end of the play?
  105. Comment on Gertrude’s guiltiness.
    Hamlet considers his mother guilty of too many crimes, but was she guilty of anything? Speculate whether she participated in King Hamlet’s murder or had an affair with Claudius before her husband’s death. Was she loyal to Hamlet?
  106. Elaborate on the “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark …“ line.
    Who says it? Explain the context of the line, its meaning, and what it foreshadows.
  107. Examine Polonius’ advice to Laertes.
    Provide its meaning and reflect on Polonius’ intentions. Why is this speech ironic?

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Essay Topics." July 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/hamlet-study-guide/essay-topics/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Essay Topics'. 15 July.