William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

  1. Respond to one of the following quotations by a Shakespearean Scholar:
    a. “Part of Hamlet’s mystery is why the audience and readership, rather like the common people
    of Denmark in the play, should love him. Until Act V, Hamlet loves the dead father (or rather
    his image) but does not persuade us that he loves (or ever loved) anyone else. The prince has
    no remorse for his vicious badgering of Ophelia into madness and suicide, or for his gratuitous
    dispatch of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their undeserved deaths… There is indeed a
    considerable ‘case against Hamlet’ [suggesting he] is a hero-villain” (Harold Bloom). How does
    Hamlet inspire such love in people?
    b. “Doubting is strenuous business; in the case of Hamlet it is heroic. His spiritual heroism is
    ironically contrasted throughout the play with the physical heroism of Fortinbras who blindly
    carries through his own revenge action without questioning its morality. Hamlet may torment
    himself with his inability to redeem his family honour by mass slaughter, indeed must torment
    himself, but the way he has chosen though painful and dangerous is the right way” (Germaine
    Greer). Why does Hamlet delay? Is he right to do so?
    c. “In tragedy, the typical effect on the audience is traditionally assumed to be a catharsis, a word
    that has something to do with purification, whatever else it means. Hamlet seems to be a
    tragedy without a catharsis, a tragedy in which everything noble and heroic is smothered
    under ferocious revenge codes, treachery, spying and the consequences of weak actions by
    broken wills” (Northrop Frye). Is Hamlet a satisfying tragedy?
  2. If you are struggling with the idea of writing an essay in response to literary criticism provided by
    a Shakespearean scholar you also have the option of formulating your own question based on one
    of the topics listed below.
    a. Revenge
    b. Madness
    c. Death/Decay
    d. The Role Language Plays in Shaping Reality
    e. Gender Roles

Sample Solution