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What is the theme of Hamlet?

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Quick Answer

The themes of the play "Hamlet" are moral corruption, revenge, morality and appearance versus reality. Written by William Shakespeare, it is considered one of the great examples of tragedy in drama.

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Full Answer

The play "Hamlet" explores the idea of moral corruption when Hamlet's mother remarries so quickly after his father is murdered. It is further explored as deeper corruption is revealed through the high level of dysfunction within his family. Revenge is also major theme, as Hamlet struggles to decide whether killing King Claudius for his father's murder is the right thing to do. He is compared with Laertes, who pledges to kill without any second thought.

The idea of reality versus appearance explores the challenges of unearthing corruption in society. Hamlet's bizarre actions make him difficult to trust or believe, and as a result he loses the support of Ophelia and his friends. Additionally, Claudius and Laertes plan to murder him, as he has become dangerous to Claudius' rule.

Finally, the concept of morality plays a big part in the play. Hamlet is convinced that even if the ghost of his father is influencing him in the wrong direction, Hamlet will not be affected. He also openly wonders if suicide is an appropriate and moral way to deal with his emotional pain.

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