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This is the name of the book just for your references " Literature for composition 9th Ed. by Sylvan Barnet ..)
Hamlet Essay Questions
1. Choose any soliloquy and discuss its function (not just its meaning) in the play. Close analysis is expected. Do not just paraphrase it. Soliloquies: Act I, ii; Act II, ii; Act III, I; Act III,iii (Claudius) or Act III, iii (Hamlet); Act IV, iv l.34-68.
2. What does this play say about thinking carefully versus taking action? Hamlet discusses this issue in several speeches; in addition, his and other characters’ actions make statements about this issue.
3. Does Hamlet live and die by making free choices, or are his choices all controlled by forces larger than himself?
4. “Everything that happens in this play occurs because of a woman.” Do you agree with that statement or not? Write an essay that explores the extent that female characters in this drama are pivotal to the play’s plot.
5. What do you feel hurt Hamlet more: his father’s death or his mother’s quick re-marriage?
6. Consider the staging of the crucial “bedroom” scene (between Gertrude and Hamlet). What do we find out about Hamlet’s family (they all show up in the bedroom) in this scene?
7. In the play “Hamlet” the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears briefly, but has a significant presence. Write an essay that demonstrates how the ghost is important in the work, especially as the ghost may serve to motivate the actions of those in the play.
8. Compare Act I scene ii with Act I scene i. What do we learn about Gertrude, Claudius, and Hamlet in each scene?
9. What is “rotten” in the state of Denmark?
10. In Act II, Hamlet delivers a soliloquoy that begins “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I…” Do the words Hamlet speaks move him to action? Why?
11. Read Act III scene iv. Based on what you’ve read (and watched in the Gibson-Zefferreli film version of the play): do you think Gertrude knew about the murder? Why or why not? How might Gertrude’s knowledge about the murder affect the events that occur in the play?
12. A foil is a character who is like the protagonist in some respects but who has contrasting qualities that reflect or “illuminate” the traits of the main character (protagonist). Think about the characters that are on stage in Act IV. Choose a character that might function as one of Hamlet’s foils and explain how the character sheds light on Hamlet?
13. Many people die at the end of the play. Often, when there is death, people try to make sense of it and understand it. What sense can be made of the staggering number of deaths in Hamlet? Has justice been served? Or is something more perverse and horrific afoot? Use Act V to help pose a response.
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