Hamlet Play Review Essay Writing Tips

As a college student, you must write a catch essay before you get out of the university. What if your instructor gave you a Hamlet play review essay? How will you approach the topic? What are the factors you will have to consider? What outline will you have to follow? What are the characteristics of such as essay? Well, all these questions, among many more, will run in your mind. However, read this piece and get the best tips on approaching such an essay and score beyond your expectations.

When you are given an essay about a play, try and figure out the characters, the emotion, the tone, and the texture you need to portray when the reader reads through your paper. When writing a review essay on Hamlet, the following points are crucial:

  • Read wide before writing a Hamlet essay

Do you want to crack an essay about a play, specifically a Hamlet review type? Well, there isn’t a shortcut; you must read, and not only reading basically but critically reading. There are different methods you can use while reading critically. The points you highlight here will help you organize and give a Hamlet essay with clear symbolism on the characters. Some approaches you can use include highlighting, annotating, and note-taking. Choose what works for you best.

  • Create an outline

After highlighting all the crucial points, it is about time to create a clear outline that will guide you throughout your writing. As you create the outline, try and imagine Hamlet at the national theatre. It will offer you an idea of where your essay should stand and the overall theme. An outline simplifies your overall work and saves you time when writing the final essay on a play.

The outline should include the following:

  1. An introduction
  2. A hook
  3. Thesis Statement
  4. Conversations
  5. Conclusion

Each section should have clear details so that you don’t need to do more research while writing the final draft.

The Different Themes of a Hamlet Essay

The essays related to Hamlet in theatre can take different dimensions. It can be about inaction, revenge, mistrust, or madness. Although it is about murder after murder in most cases, it isn’t always the case at some point. Think of points revolving around your topic.

Concentrate on the theme, symbol, and character if you want to hook the reader to your Hamlet-themed paper. These aspects will help you analyze your points well.

What are some of the Hamlet play review examples of Topics?

To give you a clear understanding that Hamlet essays can touch different dimensions, below are some of the topics:

  • How does Hamlet plan his revenge?
  • Do you think Hamlet is a Villain or a Hero in the Play?
  • According to the play and the Modern Times, do You Think Women are deceptive? Discuss.
  • Inability to take action Vs. The Need for Revenge

These are just but some of the topics you can expect. There are more to explore, depending on the theme.

Examples of Hamlet Essay Themes

For a better understanding of a hamlet essay, let us review some of the common themes you can expect below:

Madness Theme: When Hamlet talks to his father’s spirit for a long time, it portrays a crazy person, which equals madness. So, according to your topic, what is the essence of the essay? If it is to portray madness, create content revolving around the same.

The Ghost: Another characteristic about Hamlet-related essays or symbols is the ghost. When the king died, some loved him, and they mourned him. However, some people see the ghost, and this aspect leaves the suspense. So, is your essay topic theme revolving around ghosts? You have to write your content featuring the ghost aspects to give the reader a clear direction.

This professionally written Hamlet Play Review essay will give you inspiration for your own writing.

The Nature of Guilt in Hamlet

William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a play in which the idea and actual nature of guilt plays a hugely important role. As a tragedy, the play focuses on Hamlet’s own guilt regarding his inability to exact revenge for his father’s murder, a murder that makes both his own mother and father equally guilty. While guilt provides, the failure to remove it, provides in some sense the driving force of the plot of “Hamlet” it can also be argued that it that the unique of the function of guilt in the play can be related to its status as a tragedy. As such, if one is to understand this, it is necessary to consider the play both in terms of its plot and in terms of its genre.

According to T.S. Eliot, one of the most important aspect of Hamlet’s character throughout the play is his inability to externalize his feelings and to find an objective relation for them in the world as a whole. Eliot writes: “Hamlet the man is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear…he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains to poison life and to obstruct action” (1999, 145). This feeling is, in some sense, a feeling of guilt over his own position within his family, his inability to honour his father’s name and his disgust over what he considers to be his mother’s disgusting actions in marrying again so soon after her husband’s death. That Hamlet remains is fixated on this sense of guilt and that he is unable to move past it is illustrated in the scene of the play and in his first soliloquy. In this speech he clearly expresses melancholy and a sense that the world around him is irredeemably damaged for him; ‘O! That this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew; / Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! / How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world” (I.II.127-133). Indeed it can be argued that the opening scene of the play represents a situation in which Hamlet has effectively projected the guilt that he feels, and that he feels both his mother and his uncle also bear, on to the whole of nature around him. However, as Eliot notes, he is unable to find any particular object within this general malaise that would enable him to objectify his guilt and to deal with it.

This capacity for projection is evident throughout the play, and especially within Hamlet’s own discussions of nature and the manner in which the world appears to him. This is especially reflected in his speech to Rosencranzt and Guildenstern in which he remarks: “I have, of late – but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all customs of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory” (II.II.311-312). This suggestion of sterility goes hand in hand with the melancholy that Hamlet feels throughout the play, and in this sense it be directly related to the suggestion that Hamlet is projecting his own guilt outwards onto the whole of nature. Various interpretations of versions of Hamlet often play with this idea of a guilty and rank nature. One striking way in which this occurs in Kennth Branagh’s 1996. Here Branagh makes extensive use of mirrors in Act 3 Scene 1 in order to suggest Hamlet’s own narcissism and inability to relate to anything outside of his own sense of guilt.

This idea of a total guilt in the progtagonist and the world can be made more clear if one considers the play as a tragedy. According to Aristotle, such a genre should be understood as one in which characters are fundamentally caught up within a web of events over which they are unable to exert full control and which, as a result, bring about their downfall. He writes: “Character comes in as contributing to the action. Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of the tragedy, and the end the chef thing overall. Without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be one without character…The plot…is the first principle” (1996, 20). According to this understanding of tragedy, then it is never possible for a particular character to fully understand or to forsee the consequences of their actions at the time in which they make them, rather the meaning of this actions comes about as a result of the actions that befall these characters, which in themselves reveal the fate that the characters are beholden to.

This emphasis on plot over and above character can also be used to consider the role that guilt plays within “Hamlet.” Indeed, there are key moments in the pay in which the idea of guilt, indeed of a guilt that cannot possibly be fulfilled or removed, plays a key role in the plot. Arguably the most clear example of this comes in the moment in which Hamlet chooses not to kill Claudius, even he clearly has the opportunity to do so, and any particular suspicions that he might have had with regard to the truth of the ghost’s words should have been removed by his reaction to watching the performance of “The Mouse Trap” in which Hamlet has enacted his father’s murder. Despite this opportunity, however, Hamlet does not go through with his task. Rather, he uses the excuse that Claudius is praying and that, were he to be killed now then he would get straight to heaven, thus removing any possible vengeance that Hamlet would actually be able to enact for his father.

Hamlet’s baulks at this idea and states: “Now I might do it that, now he is praying; / And now I’ll do it: and so he goes to heaven; / And so I am reveng’d. The would be scann’d: / A villain kills my father; and for that, / I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (III.III.72-77). While the logic of this argument can be argued to make a degree of sense, it is also important to note that it has a similar logic to Hamlet’s inability to objectify his will in the world. Hamlet does not spare Claudius because he is not guilty enough to justify his murder. Rather, he spares him because he is actually too guilty to justify being murdered at that particular moment. In this scene, therefore, which is one of the most important for the overall plot of the play, an actual sense of overriding guilt and a need for retribution can be shown to be effectively detached from its object. Were Hamlet to be simply convinced of Claudius’ guilt in a normal sense then he would almost certainly have simply killed him and the tragedy of the play overall would have been averted. Indeed, it is because he is only able to relate to the world as being absolutely and completely guilty, and, as such, cannot even take obvious steps to rectify this, that the play ultimately culminates in a tragedy.

In conclusion, therefore, it is possible to see the importance of guilt emerging in “Hamlet” as emerging in two main areas. First of all, it is crucial for understanding the character of Hamlet himself who is obsessed with a particular sense of guilt possessed by both him and the world in which he lives. This guilt is one that can be clearly seen in Hamlet’s inability to act on particular objects in order to fulfil a task. At the same time, guilt itself plays a crucial role in the plot of the play and in its tragic structure. It is only by taking these two together that one may fully appreciate the significance of the idea and reality of guilt for “Hamlet.”

Works Cited

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. By Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Doyle. Prod. David Barron. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, and Derek Jacobi. Columbia Pictures, 1996.

Aristotle. Poetics. Translated by Joe Sachs. Penguin: London, 1996. Print.

Eliot. T.S. “Hamlet.” Selected Essays. Faber & Faber: London, 1999. pp. 141-146. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Edited by Ann Thompson. London: Arden, 2005. Print.


Are you still stuck on where to start with a Hamlet-related essay? Well, read the theatre review example above and get perfect ideas to relate with. Otherwise, the above tips will help you craft the best Hamlet play review essay.

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