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Family Theme

Blood is thicker than water, which is easy to see when it's spilled all over the floor at the end of the play. Hamlet dwells on issues of incest and revenge, both of which just might be taking the familial bond a little too far. You shouldn't have sex with your family—pretty much everyone can get behind that—but maybe, Hamlet says, you shouldn't be murdering for them, either. So, what's left? Normal families? Nah. This is Shakespearean tragedy; keep looking.

Questions About Family

  1. What's the purpose of the Fortinbras plot? Why does Fortinbras keeping popping up in the play?
  2. Why is Hamlet so upset about Gertrude's marriage to Claudius?
  3. Hamlet often accuses Gertrude of being a bad mother —is he right? Why or why not? What would "mothering" look like for an almost-grown-man like Hamlet?
  4. Why do Laertes and Polonius warn Ophelia about being intimate with Hamlet?
  5. Do parents always/ever look out for their children's best interests in Hamlet? What evidence supports your answer?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Hamlet, parents can't be trusted to look out for their children, especially when matters of politics are involved.

Hamlet is sad that his dad's been murdered, but he's more sad about his mom's remarriage to Claudius.

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