- Shakespeare, William
- 1564 - 1582: William Shakespeare's Stratford Beginnings
- 1582 - 1592: William Shakespeare's Marriage, Parenthood and Early Occupation
- 1592 - 1594: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 1
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 2
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 3
- 1611 - 1616: William Shakespeare - Back to Stratford
- Walpole, Horace
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- The Theatre
- Act I
- Act II
- Act III
- Act IV
- Act V
Possible essay questions
- What does Shakespeare suggest about the role of women in Hamlet?
- How does Shakespeare present the idea of madness in Hamlet?
- ‘Seems, Madam? I know not seems.' How important is acting and pretence in Hamlet?
- ‘These words like daggers enter in mine ears.' What does Shakespeare suggest about the importance of words, including lying and slander, in Hamlet?
- How and why does Shakespeare introduce comedy within the tragic world of Hamlet?
- There are several soliloquies within the play, most of them by Hamlet. What do you consider to be the function and nature of Hamlet's soliloquies
- Shakespeare was himself a man of the theatre. Why, and with what effects, do you think he introduces players and the play-within-a play in Hamlet
- What does Shakespeare suggest to us in Hamlet about the nature of kingship, and by what means?
- What does Shakespeare suggest to us in Hamlet about the nature of revenge?
- Examine the way that Shakespeare presents Polonius. Is he anything more than the ‘wretched, rash, intruding fool' that Hamlet describes?
- Consider the dramatic importance of Shakespeare's presentation of the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia, and Hamlet and Laertes.
- To what extent does Shakespeare make Ophelia and Polonius engage our sympathies, and by what means?
- What in your opinion is the significance of Fortinbras in Hamlet?
- Consider the way in which Shakespeare depicts Claudius; is he a sympathetic figure?
- ‘There are only two females in the play, and they are both flawed.' Would you agree with this verdict of Shakespeare's presentation of Gertrude and Ophelia?
- Of what significance is Horatio's role in Hamlet?
- ‘What ceremony else?' How significant are ceremonies and customs in the life of the court at Elsinore?
- ‘Springes to catch woodcocks.' What use does Shakespeare make of traps and spying in Hamlet?
- Does Shakespeare suggest that Hamlet is a pure character who sees through the corruption of the court in Denmark, or is he himself equally corrupt?
- How significant is Shakespeare's decision to place the action of Hamlet in a Christian universe?
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