Shakespeare Essay Questions

How to answer shakespeare essay questions - sample questions

1. Question: ‘Who is the more evil, Macbeth or Lady Macbeth?’

This is a very common Shakespeare essay on Macbeth which is basically asking you to consider the relative evil of the two central characters. Read more...

2. Question: ‘Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is about passion, about violence as much as love.’ Discuss this statement with close reference the text.

This type of Shakespeare essay requires you to consider a famous play from a different angle. The classic story of Shakespeare’s ‘star crossed lovers’ is here expected to be reassessed so that the underlying theme of violence which causes the tragedy, the hatred which denies the love, is brought to the fore.  Read more...

3. Question: Consider the idea that Shakespeare’s Henry V embodies the idea of Shakespeare’s ideal king

This Shakespeare essay is asking you not just to consider one play, or one character, but the way in which the play forms a culmination to a series of plays which Shakespeare wrote about kingship. Read more...

4. Question: ‘Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is as much about Elizabethan politics as it is about those of ancient Rome.’ Consider this statement by focusing on close analysis of the speeches of Brutus and Antony following Caesar’s assassination.

This Shakespeare essay asks you to do two things:

  • Place the play in the context of Elizabethan political tensions
  • Show your skills in analysis by comparing and contrasting the two identified speeches.

5. Question: Choose ONE soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and say how it reflects the major themes of the play

This type of Shakespeare essay is commonly seen on examination papers, often with a passage actually given to you as opposed to here where you select the passage yourself. On an exam paper, it would be extended to ask you how the given speech can be linked to another similar one elsewhere in the play. Read more...

6. Question: ‘When Malvolio falls, he invites pity not laughter.’ How far do you consider this to be applicable to the nature of the comedy in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

This Shakespeare essay asks you to consider the darker side of Shakespeare’s comedies, specifically, here, Twelfth Night. Read more...

7. Question: Consider the gender specific emphasis in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare essays increasingly use the part that gender plays in Shakespeare’s comedies to examine the way that Shakespeare portrays women in general. Read more...

8. Question: Do you consider Richard of Gloucester to be wholly evil as presented in Shakespeare’s Richard III?

One of Shakespeare’s ‘history plays’, though sometimes categorised as a tragedy, Richard III is centred on the evil but charismatic, Richard of Gloucester and his rise to power. Read more...

9. Question: ‘Othello is the agent of his own downfall.’ How far do you agree with this statement?

This Shakespeare essay requires you to consider the notion of the ‘fatal flaw’ which is so often applied to tragedy. Read more...

10. Question: Choose TWO of Shakespeare’s sonnets and consider how the idea of love is presented in each.

It is well known that Shakespeare’s sonnets can be roughly divided into three sections and all 154 of them deal with love in some form. Read more...

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