What are some good topics for an argumentative research essay on Hamlet?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In writing an argumentative essay over Hamlet, you will want to frame a thesis statement that you can explain and support with evidence from the play--facts, examples, incidents, and specific passages. Also, your thesis should be one that another writer might dispute, thus making it subject to argument. Here are some suggestions you might consider for your essay:

  • Although Hamlet's beliefs in sin and morality run deep, eventually even he is overcome by evil. (You could argue that Hamlet experiences moral disintegration, becoming crafty and deceitful and eventually murdering in cold blood.)
  • Ophelia and Gertrude are supposedly loved by the men in their lives, but they are not; in fact, they are betrayed by them. (You could argue that Hamlet and Claudius both lie to Gertrude to serve their own purposes and that Hamlet and Polonius both treat Ophelia without respect or regard for her feelings.)
  • Although Hamlet and Claudius seem to represent different kinds of men, they are very much alike. (You could argue that Hamlet and Claudius are both self-absorbed, deceitful, relentless in the pursuit of their objectives, and murderous.)

The eNotes links below will take you to some excellent resources in studying Hamlet. Good luck with your essay!

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because your question asks for ideas for an argumentative research essay, you will have to look outside the text for support as well as using the play itself. Here are some ideas for topics; the information requiring research is in bold font for you:

  • Ophelia commits suicide, and Hamlet contemplates it. How does Shakespeare present common Elizabethan attitudes toward suicide with his development of these two characters? 
  • Research Aristotle's definition of the tragic hero and make a case for whether, or to what extent, Hamlet embodies it.
  • Some scholars contend that Gertrude in some ways reflects the situation of Elizabeth I; she was an aging female royal defying her decline. Research Elizabeth I's final years on the throne and make a case for or against a comparison with Gertrude.
  • Hamlet is a revenge tragedy incorporating both the personal and political. Research common Elizabethan attitudes toward the idea of the "revenger" and argue whether, or to what extent, Shakespeare addresses these attitudes in the play's outcome.