I'm in need of some helpful insight into comparing and contrasting Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet.I'm not asking for an essay, just some starting points.  I am terribly lost with Shakespeare. :(    

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shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that the most helpful thing to do is to give you a process that will lead you from where you are now to an outline for creating an essay comparing and contrasting Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.  I will get you started, but I will also give you a link below to the excellent Enotes page on writing a compare and contrast essay.

The first thing you will need to do is understand the basic ways that the plays are similar and different from each other.  I am offering some suggestions to get you started, and these ideas should only be considered suggestions.  You will need to come to your own conclusions about the plays.

Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet are similar in these ways:

  • They are both Tragedies, which means that the main characters (tragic heroes/heroines) suffer from flaws in their own natures which leads to their demise.
  • They both involve main characters who feel estranged from their parents, and need to make choices and act on their own, in secret.
  • The opening scenes of each play offer the main characters an invitation to "rise to the occasion" and take life-changing action (R&J must go against their families and marry in secret, Hamlet is challenged to take up arms and avenge his father's murder).

Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are different in these ways:

  • Romeo and Juliet moves very quickly through a short time span, which emphasizes the hasty actions of R&J.  Hamlet takes place over quite a long span of time, and Hamlet is famously noted for his delay.
  • Hamlet must act in complete solitude, while R&J have each other to lean on and give each other support.
  • Hamlet concerns a royal court, full of intrigue and national rulerships at stake.  Romeo and Juliet concerns two families who, though important, are not in the position to create rules or decide the fate of countries with their actions.

These are some general directions in which to head, but I must stress that these are offered as examples of ways to compare and contrast the plays, and certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list.

Please follow the links below for more on writing a compare and contrast essay and the contrasting elements of haste in Romeo and Juliet and delay in Hamlet.


Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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