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Mrs. Gray's English Website



How does Hamlet apply to us today? First of all, Hamlet himself is a character that many people can relate to. We all face struggles during our life and we can sympathize with the poor hero, Hamlet. So, now we understand the rest of the "To be or not to be" speech. What other things can we learn from Hamlet? There are many important themes in the play.

Appearance vs. Reality

Hamlet pretends to be insane. He uses this deception to do things he would not ordinarily do. This brings Hamlet’s character under suspicion. Polonius and Ophelia believe he is mad.  Claudius believes he is a threat to him which is, in fact true.


Poison plays an important role in the play. We first run into poison when we learn about the death of King Hamlet. He was killed by his brother, who poured poison in his ear. Then, Hamlet’s mom Gertude is killed by a poisonous drink. Hamlet and Laertes are killed by the poisonous sword. King Claudius also dies from the poisoned rapier.

Planning vs. Acting

Hamlet had a problem. He knew he had to kill his uncle. He was prepared to do it. Yet he never did it until the very end of the play. Some people argue that many lives, including his own, would have been saved if he had just killed his uncle earlier. Hamlet decided not to take action quickly and the consequences were negative.

How many times do we hesitate before doing things? Sometimes, it is for good reason and our conscience warns us beforehand. But when we know something is right, we still delay in our action. It is better to do things quickly and not dwell on them for days if you know that they are right. If you are going to do something, just do it. If we look at Hamlet, we can see the negative effects of his hesitance.


Women play a very important role in Hamlet. Both Gertrude and Ophelia are the cause of many of the conflicts in the play. Let’s start with Gertrude. If Claudius didn’t after her, he most likely wouldn’t have killed King Hamlet. It can be said that Hamlet had an Oedipus complex and lusted after his mother as well. Oedipus was a person who was cursed to kill his father and marry his mother. So, the Oedipus complex is when a son lusts over their mother. This leads to depression because the child cannot fulfill his desire. If Hamlet had the Oedipus complex, we can understand why he was delayed in his revenge (he could sympathize with Claudius) and why he suffered from depression (he couldn’t fulfill his desire to be with his mother). We can also understand why Hamlet finally killed Claudius (his mother had died).


Ophelia was Hamlet’s love. She was beautiful and kind, but she was not a strong willed person. Ophelia was obedient to everything her father said, including his warning about Hamlet. Ophelia left Hamlet out of her father’s wishes. This probably disturbed him tremendously because he had loved her so dearly.



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