Hamlet: Getting Started

Hamlet raises many questions that you may recognize from your own life. Thinking about some of these issues will make your experience of the play more interesting and rewarding. Discuss some of the following questions in your blog or the forums. Record in your blog any ideas you find interesting or thought-provoking. When you begin to read and discuss the play, refer to your responses to these questions and keep track of any changes in your opinions, or any surprises you find.

  1. We all have procrastinated about something important that we had to do, sometimes disappointing other people and often disappointing ourselves. Why do we procrastinate?
  2. Most people have purposely “played the fool” at some time. Why do people do this? If a person for some reason plays the fool or pretends to be disturbed for a long time, do you think the person eventually can become truly disturbed?
  3. Isolation and loneliness are feelings common to most people at one time or another. Sometimes external circumstances create this situation, and sometimes people deliberately withdraw from those around them. What can friends or relatives do when someone has purposely withdrawn and chosen to be alone with his or her problems?
  4. Disillusion is a common experience of growing up. We find that people in the adult world whom we once idealized are less than ideal, and that situations we considered innocent are actually corrupt. How do young people encountering the “real world” for the first time handle these discoveries?
  5. In Shakespeare’s time, insane people were regarded as sources of entertainment. What is our society’s attitude toward mental illness?
  6. What is the difference between “taking revenge” and “getting justice”?
  7. Privacy is highly valued in our society. How would you feel if you found out you were “under surveillance” at school, at your job, at home, or among friends because of some change in your behaviour?

Having thought about this wide variety of topics, you are ready to explore Hamlet.

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