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Little Words, Big Ideas
Madness – both real and feigned – is at the heart of the play. Hamlet's "antic disposition" has famously sparked a scholarly debate: Does Hamlet truly go "mad" or is it all an act? An i...
Hamlet gears up to be a traditional bloody revenge play – and then it stops. The bulk of the play deals not with Hamlet's ultimately successful vengeance on his father's murderer, but with Ha...
Hamlet's musings on suicide, especially the "to be or not to be" speech, are legendary and continue to direct discussions of the value of life and the mystery of death. But Hamlet himself never com...
Hamlet is not necessarily a play about "religion" but it does register many of religious ideologies and spiritual anxieties of the 16th century. Here we're talking about the effects of the Protesta...
Art and Culture
Literary critics consider Hamlet to be one of Shakespeare's most "self-reflexive" plays, which is to say that Hamlet self-consciously refers to the workings of the theater and also draws the audien...
Lies and Deceit
Hamlet, more than almost any character in literature, hates deception and craves honesty. It is one of the brilliant ironies of the play that Hamlet, an absolutist in his quest for truth, is trappe...
Hamlet's preoccupation with female sexuality seems to dominate much of the play. The young prince is disgusted by his aging mother's sexual appetite and his attitude eventually infects his relation...
"Frailty, thy name is woman," so says Hamlet in his first scene (1.2.6). Hamlet's attitude toward women is notoriously sexist and stems from his disgust at his mother's sexuality and seeming unfait...
Family is a significant theme in Hamlet. The play is notorious for the way it dwells on the issue of incest – Gertrude's marriage to her dead husband's brother, Hamlet's fixation on his mothe...
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