Choosing two characters who die during the course of the play, write a monologue that each might deliver if they could come back from the dead. The characters should reflect on their lives and the manner of their deaths, and they should confess or reveal things that were not known during their lives (this could include things they did not realize themselves while they were still living).

Expert Answers

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First, it is worth recalling which characters die during the course of the play. There is a fairly wide range of characters to choose from:

Polonius - stabbed by Hamlet

Ophelia - drowning/suicide

Rosencrantz - killed in England

Guildenstern - killed in England

Gertrude - drinks poison

Claudius - stabbed by Hamlet with poisoned sword AND drinks poison

Laertes - stabbed by Hamlet with poisoned sword

Hamlet - scratched by Laertes with poisoned sword

There is a fair amount of prose in Hamlet: even the prince himself makes extensive use of it, so unless you are very ambitious, there is no need for the monologues to be in blank verse. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are obvious candidates to confess matters previously unknown. There is a brilliant play by Tom Stoppard called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which explores existentialist philosophy through these two minor characters. This would be a fertile source of ideas, if you can get hold of it. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern might be able to tell us about Hamlet the student in Wittenberg and reveal sides of his personality hitherto unknown. Of course, there is a lot of duplication between the two—their interchangeability is a running joke—so you may wish to choose either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern.

Ophelia's perspective would also be worth exploring, since she also knew a side of Hamlet that we do not see. Assuming that her sanity is restored in death, she might also explain what she meant by some of her final remarks. Gertrude's confession would be similarly interesting. Did she know that Claudius murdered her husband? Did she suspect? Did she marry Claudius out of fear? When did she perceive the changes in her son? It would be a good exercise, whichever characters you choose, to write out all the questions you would most want to ask them before doing anything else. In this way, you can ensure that all the most important and intriguing issues are addressed in their monologues.

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