Hamlet: The Subversion of the Revenge Tragedy

Lesson rationale

In these activities, students will consider the concept of the Revenge Tragedy, using a range of resources to explore Hamlet. They will consider some of the influences for the play, as well as how the actions of the play are interesting and relevant to audiences across the ages. They will also explore some of the literary conventions of the text to consider its place in the canon of literature.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What is a revenge tragedy, and to what extent can Hamlet be described in this way?
  • How does Hamlet fit into Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy?
  • What elements of a revenge protagonist does Shakespeare use in the character of Hamlet?
  • What elements from the ur-Hamlet and Amleth does Shakespeare use or adapt?