‘To be or not to be?’ You will scarcely meet a person who has never heard these words or even quoted them. Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ is still well-known all over the world. This story of revenge and a philosophical sense of death can frighten a person and make one think, but leaves no one indifferent. You can talk about this literature masterpiece for ages. So if you have a task to write essays on it, it’s better to define essay topics for high school. We prepared thought-provoking essay topics for ‘Hamlet’ so you can choose the most appropriate one.
Our topic list consists of two parts according to the type of essay. Below, you’ll find expository and persuasive essay topics.
Expository Essay Topics
- Explore the role of the minor characters in the play. Think about their significance in revealing the main subject and the major figures.
- Should we suppose Hamlet is an indecisive person? Why did he refuse to take revenge? Comment on his intentions to commit suicide.
- The main theme of ‘Hamlet’ is the struggle between good and evil. Do you agree with this statement? Analyze opposing characters.
- Shakespeare explores the conflict between appearance and reality in ‘Hamlet’. The essential theme of the play is Hamlet’s unwillingness to put up with reality. Give your evaluation.
- Do you think Ophelia’s decision to commit suicide was unwise? Did she have another choice? What would you recommend her to do instead?
If you choose from the expository essay topics for ‘Hamlet’, you’ll need to give:
- Personal analysis
In an expository essay, you can share your thoughts and personal views without strong evidence supporting every word.
Persuasive Essay Topics
- Shakespeare displays the fixed idea of death in ‘Hamlet’. Prove or disapprove this statement. What are the differences between Hamlet’s perception of death and the gravediggers?
- Describe Claudius as a ruler. Give the proofs of your claims. Who would be the better king in your opinion? Who is responsible for the demise of the state in ‘Hamlet’?
- Should we assume ‘Hamlet’ as a pure tragedy? Find examples of comic elements in the play. Pay attention to Osric and Polonius. How do you suppose the comedy is to defuse the situation or it plays the ironical part?
- The first scene introduces us to the Ghost. Find the evidence in the text that supports the idea of his real existence. If you think that he indicates Hamlet’s mental disturbance, prove it.
- Talk about Hamlet’s attitude towards Ophelia. Do you think he ever loved her truly? What were the discrepancies between his words and actions? Find arguments in the text to support your point of view.
If you choose persuasive essay topics, remember that your aim is to persuade your audience that your opinion is right. So, check for:
- Strong stance for your thesis statement
- Powerful arguments
- Examples from the text
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HAMLET ESSAY TOPICS
"Hamlet" is Shakespeare's perpetual masterpiece of all centuries and generations. Its main character, Hamlet, is a person who rises above the grey mold of his time, philosopher, who possesses unrivalled power of eloquence, true poet, who struggles against injustice and stands up for truth. This unique image of the Denmark prince, created by William Shakespeare, has no equal in the world literature.
It is considered to be impolite not to know whom the phrase "To be or not to be" belongs to. So every person with respect for himself should be acquainted with this literary work.
Choosing one of a great diversity of Hamlet essay topics always presents a lot of difficulties, as you never know where to begin with, when writing a Hamlet essay. With this list of Hamlet essay topics you won't be at a loose end, as you can choose from a broad spectrum of approaches for Hamlet essay writing.
Hamlet Essay Topics
- Aristotle said that consistency and probability are the two most important elements in the drama. Does Shakespeare, in creating the characters in Hamlet, follow or ignore this idea? You may consider both major and minor characters.
- Write an essay on the function of the soliloquies in Hamlet.
- Discuss the function of a particular trope, such as Shakespeare's use of the military or theatrical.
- Discuss Shakespeare's use of figures from nature (weeds, worms, et al.) or of sickness, rot and contagion.
- Examine how Shakespeare makes use of classical allusions.
- Discuss Hamlet's "antic disposition." Is his madness feigned or real?
- Conflict is essential to drama. Show that Hamlet presents both an outward and inward conflict.
- Is Hamlet primarily a tragedy of revenge?
- Discuss Hamlet's relationship with Gertrude.
- How important is the general setting of Denmark to the overall play?
- Why does Hamlet delay taking revenge on Claudius?
- The character Claudius has been compared to Macbeth. How similar are these two characters? In what ways are they similar?
- Compare Laertes with Hamlet: both react to their fathers' killing/murder. Is the reaction of either right or wrong?
- Compare and contrast the characters of Hamlet and Horatio. How alike or dislike are they and why?
- Hamlet remarks, "His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy." Explain Hamlet's motivation behind this comment and examine how true his remark is.
- How important is the Ghost in the triangular relationship of Hamlet, Gertrude, and Claudius?
- Although Hamlet ultimately rejects it at the end of the play, suicide is an ever-present solution to the problems in the drama. Discuss the play's suggestion of suicide and imagery of death, with particular attention to Hamlet's two important statements about suicide: the "O that this too, too solid flesh would melt" soliloquy and the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy.
- Why did Ophelia commit a suicide? What was the reason of this deed?
- Select one of Hamlet soliloquies and by a detailed attention to the poetry discuss the nature of Hamlet's feelings as they reveal themselves in this speech. What insights might this speech provide into the prince's elusive character?
- Select a particular scene in and discuss its importance in the play. How does this particular part of the action contribute significantly to our response to what is going on? What might be missing if a director decided to cut this scene (e.g., Claudius at prayer, the scene between Polonius and Reynaldo, the gravedigger scene)
- Discuss Hamlet's treatment of and ideas about women. How might these help to clarify some of the interpretative issues of the play? You might want to consider carefully the way he talks about sexuality.
- Hamlet's flaw is that he fails to act on instinct - he thinks too much.
- Discuss the importance of appearance and reality in Hamlet.
- Reveal the philosophy of Hamlet by his affectionate love to theater.
- Hamlet and Orestes have similar challenges, and their stories are, in many respects, quite alike. In what ways are the heroes significantly different?
- What is the role of symbolic image of the Yorik's skull in the play?
- Is something rotten in the state of Denmark? If so, what precisely is it? Is anyone in particular responsible or is the rottenness simply a condition of life?
- Write an essay defending one of the following options. "Hamlet is . . . -a noble prince who suffers from a corrupt world that is not suitable to his sensitive moral nature; -a true poet."
- Think about Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia. Does he love her? Does he stop loving her? Did he ever love her? What evidence can you find in the play to support your opinion?
- Consider Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's role in the play. Why might Shakespeare have created characters like this? Are they there for comic relief, or do they serve a more serious purpose? Why does the news of their deaths come only after the deaths of the royal family in Act V, as if this news were not anticlimactic? Is it acceptable for Hamlet to treat them as he does? Why or why not?
- Analyze the use of descriptions and images in Hamlet. How does Shakespeare use descriptive language to enhance the visual possibilities of a stage production? How does he use imagery to create a mood of tension, suspense, fear, and despair?
- Analyze the use of comedy in Hamlet, paying particular attention to the gravediggers, Osric, and Polonius. Does comedy serve merely to relieve the tension of the tragedy, or do the comic scenes serve a more serious thematic purpose as well?
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