The resources below are examples of criticism on a variety of themes in Hamlet. If you want to search for literary criticism on your own, the following databases will give you the best results: Note: to use JSTOR from home, be sure to use the "log in" link in the upper right corner of the homepage.
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Thinking too much prevents Hamlet from taking action.
Relationship between father and son, mother and son, love relationship, friendship.
The "play within the play," a mere fiction, shows the truth.
Hamlet pretends to be mad to carry out his plans more easily. "There's reason in his madness," Polonius says after talking to him. Hamlet's madness contrasts with Ophelia's madness that takes place later in the play.
Hamlet uses metaphors, similes, puns and wordplay. His words often have a hidden meaning that goes beyond their apparent meaning.
What appears to be true doesn't correspond to reality, appearance doesn't often correspond to the real feelings of people. This theme is also connected to the sense of doubt and ambiguity typical of the 16th century, when the certainties of the past were disproved or modified.
Like Hamlet, modern man is tormented by doubt, by a lack of religious or moral certainties, and by an inability to communicate.