Hamlet by William Shakespeare
21. Discuss the function of soliloquies and asides in the play as they relate to our public and private selves. What do these soliloquies suggest about the characters’ true natures? (Hamlet and Claudius in particular seem to present one identity to the characters and another to the audience. Ironically, Hamlet says of women in Act III, Scene I that “God has given you one face and you make yourselves another.”)
22. Analyze the father/son relationships in the play. To what extent does Laertes serve as a foil to Hamlet? How are they alike, and how are they different? How does Fortinbras factor into the narrative, and how does his character arc relate to Hamlet’s?
23. Analyze Hamlet’s “antic disposition.” What is its purpose? Is his madness real or feigned? Can we conclusively say one way or another?
24. What does Hamlet’s treatment of Gertrude and Ophelia reveal about the role of women within the narrative? Does he treat these two characters differently, or are there similarities between the scenes he shares with each?
25. In Act I, Scene IV, Marcellus says, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” How is Denmark depicted throughout the play, by various characters? Does this change? Discuss the play’s setting and the purpose that it serves.