Watch “Hamlet” (Mel Gibson version)

Writing Prompts for

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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 Watch “Hamlet” (Mel Gibson version)

  1. Discuss Hamlet’s treatment of and ideas about women. How might these help to clarify some of the interpretative issues of the play? You might want to consider carefully the way he talks about sexuality.
  2. Discuss the importance of appearance and reality in Hamlet (strong hint: Why is Hamlet so interested in the players?).
  3. Discuss one of the themes in Hamlet: revenge, honor, ambition, madness, fate and free will, belief and skepticism, deceit and spying, fathers and sons, marriage, the role of women, mortality.
  4. Write the story Horatio will tell Fortinbras.  Look at the lines Hamlet and Horatio exchange at the end of the play.  What “holes” will be in Horatio’s story?  How will each character “come off” in Horatio’s telling?  Use specifics from the play (quotes) in Horatio’s account.  Note: this isn’t the “easy” option, but you can be creative.


You would not want to make an argument of this sort:

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge.

That doesn’t say anything–it’s basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.

A better thesis would be this:

Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother.

That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he’s in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner. [Example from Purdue’s OWL]

Papers are to be typed, double-spaced, using MLA-style documentation.  You do not need a cover page, a 75-100 word abstract (as a separate page or blocked off paragraph), 1250-1500 words in the essay (that’s 5-6 pages), and a works cited page IF you have secondary sources.  Please make sure to include a word count at the end of the abstract AND at the end of the essay.

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