Hamlet Essay

1200 words/4 pages

As you have learned, there are many questions one can examine in Hamlet. If you like, you can use one of the following prompts as a starting point for analysis.

What archetypes do you find in Hamlet?

Is Hamlet an example of an Oedipal impulse?

Do the Id, Ego, and Superego freeze him from action, propel him to his tragic fate?

Is Gertrude a heroic woman who owns her female sexuality without apology, who nurtures Hamlet, and who survives in a male dominated world?

In terms of our own cultural agenda of corporate power, Hamlet and Claudius are the great multinationals, but who gets downsized in the play? What work is outsourced to another country? What other modern parallels might one make?

In terms of literary Darwinism, is Hamlet really a failure due to his lack of evolutionary fitness, or does his sacrifice for the group promote the survival of the country and therefore the species, making him an altruistic evolutionary hero?

In terms of Dialogics from chapter 5, what voices are part of the dialogue and what voices are silenced or deemphasized? Is ambiguity a source of Hamlet’s universal appeal because it is more consistent with our lived experience?

What is this “paradox of man” and how does the play explore that paradox? Is there a connection between the paradox in Hamlet and celebrities in our own world?

Does Hamlet’s pain arise because he is such an idealist, and if he were a realist, would he have been more adaptive to circumstances, less haunted by ghosts?

The play also has historical connections to the politics of its time, and one New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, has often compared President George Bush to Shakespearian characters, including Hamlet, since Bush 43 often seems haunted by the ghost of his father, Bush 41. In an article on the Katrina disaster, she wrote, “In an interview on the Upper Ninth Ward’s desolate North Dorgenois Street, the president told NBC’s Brian Williams that, besides Camus, he had recently read a book on the Battle of New Orleans and “three Shakespeares.” A White House aide said one of them was “Hamlet.” What could be more fitting? A prince who dithers instead of acting and then acts precipitously at the wrong moment, not paying attention when someone vulnerable drowns.” There are many modern or current people and events that can be compared with insight to Hamlet.

A popular essay topic is: How does Hamlet fit all the elements of the revenge tragedy mentioned in HCAL on page 34-35?

Like I said at the beginning, there are many questions your essays can examine, so pick one and go for it. And of course, you need not pick one of the ones here if you have your own thesis for the play, but be sure to use quotes from HCAL in support of your analysis. As always, it should be 4 pages (1200 words), double-spaced, Times New Roman, size 12 font. Hamlet touches our lives today in so many ways because he is representative of so much of our humanity. I snipped out a piece of an editorial below just to emphasize that Hamlet is a living, breathing part of our current culture.

Hamlet continues to permeate our modern culture as a touchstone for communication. It is possible to write an essay that explores the continuing impact of this most famous Shakespeare character.

Well, there are a few suggestions–happy writing!

From 2008 but Hamlet remains everywhere among us:

‘To be or not to be?’ Hagel auditions for Hamlet
by Bob Hoig, Publisher
Midlands Business Journal

Chuck Hagel picked the University of Nebraska at Omaha Alumni Center as the stage for a much-hyped Monday morning announcement about his future.
Is he running for president in 2008? Is he seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate? Is he returning to private business?
All that came out of Hagel’s no-news “news” conference – after a week of over-the-top national and local heavy breathing in the media – was that Hagel is…is…is…still thinking.
A better setting for this performance might have been the University Theater, where an audition for Hamlet, the vacillating prince of Denmark, would have been more seemly.
By flaunting indecisiveness, Hagel, whether he understands it or not, has swept himself from the presidential board for good in 2008.
Nobody wants to hear somebody’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy, especially when the try-out is for President of the United States during times that try men’s souls.

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