All plays and stories will have one central character or two on whom the story will be focused. If you are studying English literature as your main subject, you will learn that the main character, even though the focus of the story, has no existence without the rest of the characters. William Shakespeare is one of those playwrights who made an effort to give significant roles to all the characters in his plays. For the same reason, you will find that even those characters in his plays which appear only for a short period influences the story line to a great extent. For the same reason, while writing a Hamlet research paper, you should study each of the characters to the minutest detail.
While choosing a character for your research paper, remember that even the most inconspicuous characters can be highlighted by a detailed account of their small roles. Since the interpretation of a literary work is subject to individual views, you have the freedom to build a character’s significance and worth or push it aside as a worthless one. In order to write a good Hamlet research paper, you need to know all the following characters in the play, well enough.
• Prince Hamlet: The prince of Denmark and the protagonist around whom the tragic theme is woven.
• King Hamlet’s ghost: The ghost of King Hamlet is the base of the tragedy as it all begins with his death. Visible only to Hamlet. Urges the prince to avenge his murder.
• Claudius: King Hamlet’s brother who turns out to be his murderer as well. Aware of his crime and scared of Prince Hamlet and Fortinbras of Norway.
• Fortinbras: Prince of Norway. Does not appear in the play till the very end. But remains in the background from the beginning till the very end. Claudius is wary of him. But Hamlet announces him suitable for the throne of Denmark after his own death. Arrives on the last scene of tragedy where all the other characters except Horatio are dead.
• Queen Gertrude: Queen of Denmark. Mother to prince Hamlet. Married to Claudius after the death of King Hamlet. Hated by her son. Becomes regretful of her marriage to Claudius half-way through the play.
• Ophelia: Hamlet’s lover whose life ends in a tragedy. Loves Hamlet unconditionally and believes that he loves her the same way.
• Polonius: Ophelia’s father. Claudius’ counselor. Gets killed by Hamlet when caught listening in on a conversation between the prince and queen Gertrude.
• Laertes: Polonius’ son, Ophelia’s brother. Gets killed by Hamlet after having inflicted fatal wounds upon the prince. Is regretful towards his end.
• Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Employed to spy upon Prince Hamlet and to arrange his murder, both get murdered accidentally.
• Horatio: Hamlet’s friend. Tries to commit suicide at the end but is stopped by Hamlet. Hamlet, as his final wish, requests him to tell the story to those who doesn’t know it.
These are the characters of the play Hamlet. A thorough knowledge of each of them is necessary if you are writing a Hamlet research paper. It will help you in getting a better grasp of the plot. Once you learn all about them you will also be able to consider one of them as the topic for your research paper.