Hamlet - Key Themes

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Hamlet - Key Themes

The ghost of Hamlet’s father, the dead King Hamlet, appears several times in the play

He is a credible figure as there was strong belief in ghosts at the time the play was written

He exists as several characters see him, so he is not a figment of Hamlet's imagination

He demands revenge for his death and basically is responsible for Hamlet’s agonies throughout the play

Hamlet tests the ghost by staging the play and it confirms that what the ghost says is true

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Hamlet - Key Themes


The play is played to a political backdrop and there is always the threat of war in the background

The clearest political theme is that of power and Claudius has gained his power through the murder of King Hamlet. He must now keep that power

Set in Denmark but written for an English audience

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Hamlet - Key Themes


It has been suggested that Hamlet's hesitation to kill Claudius may be as a result of the religious beliefs of Shakespeare's time

The Reformation has generated discussion about the existence of purgatory (where the Ghost of King Hamlet claims he currently is)

The concept of purgatory (a place between heaven and hell) is a Catholic one, and was frowned on in Protestant England

The play questions such matters and manipulates the audience's views on religion

Contextually this perious is one of great religious confusion, which the play exploits

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Hamlet - Key Themes

Truth, lies, acting and disguise

The play within the plat is the most obvious form of acting where the play re-enacts the death of King Hamlet and allows Hamlet to see Claudius' reaction, confirming his guilt

Many of the characters act throughout the play, not being their true selves. Claudius pretends to be sad for King Hamlet's death and he also pretends to like Hamlet. Hamlet plays a variety of roles to suit the situation he is in or the people he is with

Hamlet feigns madness to put others off their guard and not take him as a serious threat

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