Hamlet Essay Topics on Revenge

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Revenge is one of the most important themes in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet.' This lesson will help you get your students thinking deeply about revenge by providing essay topics relating to this theme.

Revenge in Hamlet

If your students are reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, you will almost inevitably end up talking about the theme of revenge. So many of the characters in the play are interested in getting revenge on others. In addition, many of Hamlet's internal and external struggles relate back to his conflicted feelings about avenging his father's death.

One way to help your students think more closely about the theme of revenge in the play is by giving them essay assignments dealing with the topic. When students write essays, they have to develop their own voice in relation to a topic and back up their arguments with textual evidence that makes sense. This lesson offers a series of topics your students can use to write essays about revenge as a theme in Hamlet.

Topics About Characters

  • If the character of Hamlet had to define the concept of revenge, how do you think he would define it?
    • Write an essay explaining what revenge is and why it matters, but from Hamlet's perspective. Use specific evidence to back up your supposition.
  • Who does Hamlet most want to get revenge on, and why?
    • Explain exactly what he wants to avenge and then describe whether you think his desire for vengeance is reasonable and justifiable. Use your understanding of the concept of revenge to justify your argument.
  • Choose a character in the play besides Hamlet and use three pieces of evidence from the play to show that character's relationship to revenge.
    • Some strong possibilities are Gertrude, Ophelia, and Polonius. Show how that character's perspective on revenge is similar to and different from Hamlet's.
  • Focus on one of Hamlet's monologues that you feel makes commentary on revenge.
    • Offer a close reading of the monologue with an eye toward understanding what he is saying about revenge. Offer your own perspective on Hamlet's point of view.
  • Although Hamlet often feels motivated to get revenge on others, he is often internally paralyzed and unable to act on his feelings.
    • Describe one or two scenes in which Hamlet feels compelled to take revenge but does not. Use these scenes to comment on Hamlet's character and his relationship to revenge overall.
  • Zero in on one of the female characters in the play. Write about how her relationship to revenge as a theme and concept is different from that of the male characters.
    • Use your discussion to comment on the relationship between gender and revenge in Hamlet.

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