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Research Paper Topics for Hamlet Examples

Instructor: Clio Stearns

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

As your students read Shakespeare's 'Hamlet,' the completion of a research paper can both provide context for the play as well as deepen students' understanding. This lesson provides examples of research paper topics that will enhance your students' comprehension.

Why Research Hamlet?

Are your students in the process of reading Shakespeare's Hamlet? The play itself gives you plenty to discuss, but it can be really challenging to comprehend without strong context.

One thing you can do to help your students get as much as possible out of their reading is assign them research topics that will help them better understand the play as well as where, when, and why it was written. Students can conduct research before, during, or after they read, and as they share their findings with each other, everyone's comprehension will benefit. The research paper topics in this lesson are designed to maximize your students' comprehension and enjoyment of the play.

Topics for Providing Context

These topics will help students contextualize Hamlet, enabling them to picture the play and make sense of the aspects that seem unusual or foreign to them.

  • Research Shakespeare's Globe theater, including its physical appearance as well as how plays were choreographed, cast, and staged in it. Write a paper that illustrates how Hamlet would have been performed originally, thinking about how this might impact the way contemporary readers read and envision the play.
  • What were gender roles like when Hamlet was written? Research gender in Shakespeare's time, then use your findings to contextualize gender as a theme in Hamlet. In your paper, explain what was expected of women in relation to men when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
  • Conduct research on Shakespeare's life that helps you understand his relationship to power and revenge, two significant themes in Hamlet. Write a research-based biography of Shakespeare that focuses on these particular themes.

Literary Criticism

The topics in this section encourage students to read the reviews and analyses of the play that critique Hamlet as a piece of literature.

  • What have critics over the years said about Hamlet's famous 'To be or not to be' soliloquy? Research at least two different critical analyses of this speech, then write a paper that gets at the major literary perspectives on its significance.
  • Conduct research on how the theme of death in Hamlet has been critiqued. In your paper, write about how scholars have interpreted this theme as well as how the play impacted subsequent literary work addressing death as a theme.

Theories and Philosophies

Finally, these topics will help your students research the big ideas and themes underlying the play.

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