Study Guide

Hamlet Sex

By William Shakespeare

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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 thinking about other people's sex lives. Including (especially) his mom's. The young prince is disgusted by his aging mother's sexual appetite, which eventually becomes the way he feels about all women in general. According to Hamlet, female sexuality makes the entire world seem like an "unweeded garden: in other words, it's associated with deception, sin, and a fallen world. No wonder he can't lay off the dirty jokes.

Questions About Sex

  1. What is Hamlet's attitude towards sexuality? What metaphors and language does he use when describing sex?
  2. In what ways is Hamlet's relationship to mother's sexuality and Ophelia's sexuality the same? In what ways are they different?
  3. Does Hamlet focus more on female sexuality or male sexuality? Why?
  4. In what ways does Hamlet's attitude towards sexuality affect or mirror his attitude towards the entire world?
  5. What is the relationship, for Hamlet, between sexuality and betrayal?

Chew on This

Hamlet's suicidal disgust with the world has more to do with his mother's sexual betrayal of his father than Claudius's murder of his father.

Hamlet's view that all women are "breeders of sinners" not only reveals a sexist attitude but also suggest that Hamlet (a "sinner") finds himself to be just as revolting as the corrupt world around him.

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