Hamlet
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Madness

Obfuscating insanity —uh, faking madness to throw people off—is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In Hamlet, Shakespeare takes it up a notch: does Hamlet truly go "mad," or is the cuckoo-ta...

Revenge

Ghosts, perverse family drama, and a vow of revenge: Hamlet is all geared up to be a traditional bloody revenge play… and then it grinds abruptly to a halt. The play isn't about Hamlet's ultimate...

Mortality

Hamlet may talk—and talk, and talk—about suicide, but what he's really concerned with is mortality, and the fact that the living world is made of death and decay. (Yeah, we know that life looks...

Religion

For a play about incest and murder, Hamlet registers many of the 16th century's religious anxieties, like the effects of the Protestant Reformation on Christian ideas about mortality and the afterl...

Art and Culture

You know how all of Stephen King's books are about writers? Or how an unlikely number of movies have writer characters? Sometimes people take the advice to write what you know pretty literally—li...

Lies and Deceit

For someone who hates deception, Hamlet sure finds himself coming up with a lot of lies. Hamlet depicts a seamy political world, where deception is a necessary part of life and political "spin" rul...

Sex

Hamlet is a perv. Really. Oh, not the kind of perv who goes around doing gross stuff—as far as we can tell, Hamlet isn't actually interested in girls at all—but the kind who just can't stop thi...

Gender

"Frailty, thy name is woman" (1.2.6)—but Hamlet's men are pillars of stability and constancy, right? Right?? Well, maybe not. But Hamlet's attitude toward women is definitely sexist, and it stems...

Family

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...

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