Hamlet Essay Plans and Relevant Quotes

Isolated character Essay plan: ‘Hamlet’s imprisonment of isolation’ Essay plan: ‘Hamlet’s imprisonment of isolation’1) Hamlet’s Circumstances — his father has died (rather was murdered); his mother has betrayed him and he is the only one truly mourning the death of his father (‘inky cloak’) — revealed in soliloquies. 2) The Ghost’s arduous burden & antic disposition — causes Hamlet to become further distanced and lonely. Also, causes Hamlet great inner conflict contributing to his suicidal thoughts. 3) The corruption in the court and the Machiavellian Treachery — Hamlet is the only character with moral integrity and many conspire against him/are manipulated by Claudius. 4 and 5) Hamlet repairs his relationship with i) Horatio and ii) his mother and iii) alleviates his inner-conflict (changed perspective). – Finish essay with “the potent poison quite o’er crows my spirit”; indicating that despite his recovery, the corruption damage is permanent. Quotes:1) “O that this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself in to a dew … had the everlasting no held his cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter … o god! o god! how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world” “‘Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed things gross and rank in nature … possess it merely”2) “Avenge my most foul and unnatural death” … “Haste me to know it that I with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge” … “O cursed spite that ever I was born to set this right” … “To put on an antic-disposition”3) “Hamlet being remiss and free from all contriving” … “in the comfort of our eye” … “O what a rash and bloody deed is this … as to kill a king and marry with his brother” 4 and 5) “Repair to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death” … “O what a rash and bloody deed is this … as to kill a king and marry with his brother” … “come, come sit you down … have you eyes?” … “Speak no more sweet Hamlet” … “I’ll speak daggers but use none” … “there’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew it how we will” … “there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow”.
Duty vs. self-interest Essay Plan: how Hamlet must deal with an inner conflict and a difficult task1) The duty is to kill Claudius and avenge his father’s death as the apparition instructs him to do. The self-interest is the dilemma which Hamlet faces — it is a sin to commit murder and he does not know whether the ghost is trustworthy. 2) This leads to Hamlet’s procrastination and his antic disposition. Causes the young prince to become even more isolated and also to make rash, consequential, decisions. 3) What does this say about the theme of revenge? — that it is difficult; nothing good can come of it; even if it is justified it is difficult not to be tainted by it; unpredictable nature of humans and plan/motive changes. 4) What does this say about the theme of corruption? — that corruption is infectious and spreads; if the head of a state is corrupt, the whole state is “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”; it can remain invisible to those not directly involved in it i.e. Gertrude and ghost; it is punishable and in the end, to cleanse the state everyone must be killed.
Shocking/dramatic scene/builds to a climax Essay plan: ‘The Closet Scene’1) The murder of Polonius — Hamlet is capable of murder; instigates Laertes’ treacherous revenge plot against Hamlet highlighting the unpredictable nature of human beings. 2) The intense exchange between mother and son — reveals that Gertrude was not involved or knew about the murder of her past Husband (Hamlet’s father); Hamlet is able to vent his pent up rage and disapproval of his mother’s new marriage and as a result causes their relationship to be ‘repaired’.3) The dramatic reappearance of the ghost – Make sure to comment on how this affects the plot going forward in the play and reveals theme: Corruption: Gertrude cannot see the ghost = she cannot see her wrong doing. Revenge: highlights Hamlet’s procrastination, last appearance of the ghost = changed motive for revenge. The supernatural and natural mixing indicates an upset in nature (the corruption).
Changed Character Essay Plan: ‘How the young prince develops throughout the play’1) Hamlet at the start (inner conflict, isolated and melancholic) 2) Events that change Hamlet (Closet scene, Escapade at sea, Grave Diggers Scene, Meeting Fortinbras Jr’s army on their way to invade Poland, Ghost Dread command (alleviated burden)3) Hamlet at the end of the play (alleviated inner conflict, less isolated and happier (ready for anything)
To sympathise or not to sympathise Essay plan: ‘To sympathise or not to sympathise: that is the question’1) Circumstances — father’s death (murder); mother’s betrayal and lack of mourners for his father. (source of sympathy). 2) Procrastination & Hypocrisy — Hamlet promises to act but does not follow through with his promises “suit the action to word, the word to the action”… (source of irritation (and sympathy)).3) Treatment of women and responsibility for deaths of characters — Hamlet publicly embarrasses Ophelia and Gertrude with sexual innuendo. Sends childhood best friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths without second thought: “they are not near my conscience” and Polonius: “how now a rat!”4) Corruption and Treachery (source of sympathy) — people conspire against Hamlet and he is constantly spied upon. Finish essay with: “the potent poison quite o’er crows my spirit” indicating that the malicious actions of other have ruined the young prince.
Contrasting Characters/conflicting characters Essay Plan: ‘Laertes and Hamlet (“I’ll be your foil!”)’1) Hamlet is a scholar whereas Laertes is a ‘man-of-the-world’. Hamlet is forced to remain in Denmark while Laertes is allowed to return to France. Freedom vs. imprisonment.2) Both are tasked with avenging their father’s murders but take different paths to do so. Hamlet is a brooding academic while Laertes is a man of action: “to put on an antic disposition” vs. “to cut his throat in th’ church” —> Laertes starts a revolt against the crown before being persuaded to focus his efforts on Hamlet. —> Hamlet is much more thoughtful and puts on ‘an antic disposition’. 3) Hamlet must obey Christian values (i.e. murder being a sin) while Laertes applies Roman Catholic values in which revenge killings are classes as ‘family honour’. 4) Laertes is all about how things look while Hamlet is about the way things are. This contrast runs throughout the play and is clarified by their different use of language.
Revenge Essay Plan: ‘Revenge plots in Hamlet’ There are two main revenge plots in Hamlet: 1) Hamlet against Claudius and 2) Claudius and Laertes’ against Hamlet. The third is mentioned at the start and the end — Fortinbras’ Jr. against Denmark. Both revenge plots are somewhat unsuccessful or change as the play progresses.1. Hamlet vs. Claudius and Laertes vs. Hamlet 2. Difficulties faced by Hamlet and the ease of Laertes’ revenge.3. The effects of their revenge on themselves and on the rest of the court4. Deeper messages about Revenge and Retribution: it is difficult; nothing good comes of it; plans and motives change; the final outcome is unpredictable; “The potent poison quite o’er crows my spirit”
Appearance vs. Reality Essay Plan: ‘The truth behind the lies’1. The ghost’s questionable appearance in the play contributes to the theme of uncertainty.2. Interior vs. exterior realities 3. Hypocrisy and manipulation 4. How does it enhance your understanding of the play’s central concerns: helps to demonstrate Hamlet’s character changing throughout the play; even innocent looking people may have evil/malicious facades; demonstrates how it can make revenge difficult; corruption’s infectious nature; unpredictable nature of human beings.
Corruption (a character who conveys a them) Essay Plan: ‘Corruption’1) Character of Claudius: manipulates, withholds the truth and openly lies. 2) Symbolism of the ghost & Appearance vs. reality (UNCERTAINTY) 3) Language of Disease 4) Deeper messages about corruption: it is infectious, it spreads, if the head of a state is corrupt the whole population are tainted; there’s a divined providence which governs/punishes those deceitful individuals, all that are involved are killed — to cleanse the disease all must be culled.
Heroic yet vulnerable/has strengths but also weaknesses/admirable but flawed Essay Plan: ‘Strengths and weaknesses of Hamlet’Common theme is that the contrast helps to draw sympathy from the audience as the play progresses. “The potent poison quite o’er crows my spirit”1. Hamlet is not heroic until the final act where he is seen to have developed a different perspective and acceptance of life.2. Contrast is used to show heroism i.e. Hamlet is a foil to Laertes 3. Hamlet kills Claudius for his own reasons and not the ghost’s showing that he is thinking about himself too. 4. Vulnerabilities: Hamlet is a thinker and often over analyses situations. As a result he procrastinates.
A changing relationship Essay Plan: ‘Gertrude and Hamlet’s relationship’1) At the start of the play, Hamlet is disgusted with Gertrude and feels betrayed by her. The impersonal language and tension in public when they speak helps to highlight this. 2) Hamlet repairs his relationship with his mother: in the closet scene, a brief time of honesty in a play of deception and lies allows Hamlet to reveal the truth about his feelings. 3) At the end of the play, Hamlet and his mother have repaired their bond. Gertrude lies to Claudius for Hamlet and in the end eventually poisons herself in an attempt to save Hamlet, her son.
Turning point (scene) & an important truth Essay Plan: ‘Act One Scene Five — the ghost and Hamlet’1) The guards decide to tell Hamlet about what they have seen. What the spirit reveals to Hamlet (his father was murdered) gives the young prince his raison-d’etre — his reason to be. Starts Hamlet’s revenge and antic disposition. 2) The ghost is a symbol of the corruption in Denmark and also acts as an indication to the them of uncertainty. 3) The news cause Hamlets relationships with Gertrude (and Ophelia to an extent) to change. 4) Overall messages from the play: in terms of revenge and corruption. Conclusion: — Introduces Hamlet’s role as a revenge hero and the dilemma he faces. — Also influences his relationships and reveals theme.
Effective opening or closing scenes Unlikely to come up since it was in it last year.
Exam Technique Exam Strategy…1. Take a couple minutes to scribble down a plan. Bullet point your four arguments and think about how you are going to link them to the second part of the question. 2. Tackle the introduction – start with: “‘Hamlet’, written by ‘William Shakespeare’, is a dramatic tragedy in which…” and then put the question’s wording in. The next step is to out line the key idea of the essay. Finally, close the introduction with a link to the first argument or a judgement. 3. Each paragraph should be about an A4 page and should take 8-10 minutes to write. Check the spelling as you go through and watch out for punctuation. 4. The conclusion: like a condensed version of the introduction but offer a judgement rather than just stating the arguments. It is an effective way to finish the essay with a quotation like: “the potent poison quite o’er crows my spirit” or “O cursed spite that ever I was born to set this right”.

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