Shakespeare Research Paper Topics and Ideas

Topics and ideas
Posted on March 13, 2019

It is likely that you will need to write an essay or research paper about William Shakespeare at some point during your studying since the significance of his impact on literature is undoubted. It is also likely that you’re going to face difficulties while reading Shakespeare’s creations because there is a centuries-gap between you; the spoken and literary language was way different back then, which makes it hard to comprehend. However, there are myriads of studies that explore almost every part of his writings and ought to help you complete your assignment. Nevertheless, it might be hard for you to pick the right topic to start with. In fact, you can write about any subject that you are interested in, be it racism, feminism, gender issues, literary or rhetorical devices, genres of literature, templates of stories and narration, symbolism, and many others, since Shakespeare’s creations include all issues mentioned above. While working on any of these topics, keep in mind that a research paper requires a thorough study of the subject and references to credible sources.


1. Shakespeare’s Environmental Imagery

In his works, Shakespeare uses plenty of descriptive details, many of which convey an important message and are essential to the plot. For instance, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the imagery of the environment, particularly of the Moon, plays a vital role in building the story and dialogs between the characters. Try to find parts where a description of a surrounding is important to understanding a specific scene.

2. As You Like It Essay Topics

“As You Like It,” one of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies, offers many intriguing Shakespeare essay examples. One possible theme to explore is the play’s portrayal of love and courtship. Analyze the different types of love depicted, such as romantic love between Rosalind and Orlando, sibling love between Rosalind and Celia, and the love between various other characters. Examine how Shakespeare presents these relationships and what insights they offer about the complexities of love. Here are also some other ideas for research papers topic.

  • Nature and Identity. Explore the theme of nature and its influence on characters’ identities and personal growth.
  • Comedy and Wit. Analyze the comedic elements in the play, including wordplay, puns, and humorous situations.

3. Shakespeare as the Subject of Gender Discourse

Shakespeare’s works played a significant role in understanding the mentality of Renaissance society. The author is known for creating outstanding female characters and showing their conflicts with the culture they live in. Describe how important is the contribution of Shakespeare to the gender discourse, taking a particular work or works as examples.

4. Cross-Gender Interference

Gender interference occurs when a character possesses both masculine and feminine qualities in verbal behavior. If you want to pick this topic for your research, then it is essential to consider existing gender language stereotypes. In your paper, you can focus on the character of Titania and the changes in her communicative behavior, which happen during the story.

5. Gender Roles Differentiation

While the previous topic discusses the fusion of gender roles, gender differentiation implies that there is a strict division between the personalities of female and male characters. Your paper can examine the differentiation of gender roles of Demetrius and Helena from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Describe how their images correspond to the stereotypes of the Renaissance period.

6. The Danger of Gender

The setting of “Othello” depicts women not only as man’s possession but also as the holders of their reputation. Woman’s infidelity was considered a shame for a man since it was equivalent to unacceptable disobedience and contrariness. Consider how has this fact led to the well-known ending of the “Othello” story, provide examples from the play.

7. The Theme of Marriage

In “Othello,” Shakespeare depicted that unmarried daughters are no more than a property of their fathers. It is especially vivid on an example of Desdemona and her father Brabantio. During the story, when Desdemona secretly marries Othello, her father feels like he was robbed since his property was stolen. Thus, you can describe the mentality concerning marriage in “Othello,” and how it differs from the perception of your culture. The marriage issues are quite challenging to write about even if they have nothing to do with real life but works of fiction. Seek help with research paper if it’s not something you can cope with yourself.

8. Othello Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” delves into themes of jealousy, race, and deception, providing thought-provoking Shakespeare paper topics. One such topic is the portrayal of jealousy in the play. Analyze the transformation of Othello’s character from a confident and respected general to a jealous and vengeful husband. Examine how Iago manipulates Othello’s emotions, leading to his tragic downfall. Here are also some other ideas for an essay on Shakespeare:

  • Manipulation and Deception. Examine the various instances of manipulation and deceit in the play and their consequences.
  • Tragic Flaw. Analyze Othello’s tragic flaw and its role in his downfall, exploring themes of pride, insecurity, or naivety.

9. The Theme of Racism

Racism is another controversial topic depicted in “Othello.” Brabantio perceived Desdemona’s and Othello’s union as something unnatural and resulted from witchcraft since from his old-fashioned point of view, interracial relationships are forbidden. In your research paper, you can examine these racial issues that were shown in “Othello,” and correlate them to past or modern realities.

10. The Theme of Feminism in “Othello”

Although there are a few female characters in “Othello,” Shakespeare provides them with unique and sometimes even rebellious personalities. Give due attention to each of the female characters, describe their behavior and provide textual evidence. Try to discover which one of them resembles the image of a modern feminist.

11. Melodrama and Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s creations had a significant impact on the development of the melodrama genre. For instance, the theme of forbidden but strong love between two people from fighting clans, families, or countries, which originally was shown in “Romeo and Juliet,” is recurring in the modern literature. Strive to notice such themes in literature or cinematography and compare it to Shakespeare’s text.

12. Tragedy in Shakespeare’s Plays

Shakespeare’s works are famous for their unexpected and often tragic endings. In your paper, discuss the unique features of the Shakespearian tragedy that distinguishes it from other works of this genre. For this assignment, it is critically important to refer to works of credible researchers and provide textual pieces of evidence, citing them according to the required formatting style.

13. Comedy in Shakespeare’s Plays

Not only do Shakespeare’s texts have bitter stories, but they also do not lack the humorous component. For instance, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he jokingly refers to Queen Elizabeth I, also known as The Virgin Queen. Thus, a humorous component of his texts can concern even out-of-the-plot events. Try to examine and discuss such parts, and support your claims with pieces of evidence.

14. Julius Caesar Research Paper Topics

Shakespeare’s tragic play “King Lear” presents powerful themes of family, madness, and justice, offering captivating William Shakespeare essay topics. One possible subject to explore is parent-child relationships in the play. Analyze the dynamics between King Lear and his daughters and the themes of love, loyalty, and betrayal in their interactions. Here are also some other ideas for William Shakespeare research paper topics:

  • Fate vs. Free Will. Discuss the interplay between destiny and personal choices in shaping the events of the play and its implications.
  • Political Ambition. Analyze the motivations and consequences of political ambition in the play, examining the characters’ pursuit of power.

15. Historic Events in Shakespearean Literature

In his creations, Shakespeare quite often refers to real historical events and uses them as a basis for a plot or simply as a character’s feature. For this topic, you should examine some of his famous works and make a thorough research of a chosen subject.

16. External Impact on Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s works were influenced by the time in which the author lived and by events that occurred back then. For this assignment, it is important to attentively study the biography of the English playwright and research some corresponding academic literature. You can choose, for instance, to describe the impact of political events on Shakespeare’s oeuvre.

17. Revolution in Literature

As one of the truly outstanding figures in world literature, Shakespeare made a significant contribution to its development. For this topic, you should examine how his works influenced, changed, or even revolutionized the situation in the literary world. Keep in mind, however, that your claims should be backed up with opinions of credible researchers.

18. Shakespeare’s Style of Writing

Shakespeare was the founder of myriads of literary devices, which writers still use nowadays. For insistence, in contrast to his contemporaries, who used stock characters in their creations, Shakespeare focused on the depth of characters’ personalities, making them look real and controversial. You can build your research paper on describing similar literary devices and finding their equivalents in modern literature.

Pro tip

When you write research on classics, it is easy to get lost in tons of materials and critics. Here is the tip to avoid overwhelm: intentionally choose what is not your concern. For instance, if you learn Shakespeare’s writing style, ignore the plot, main topics, and author’s impact on literature. Devote yourself to one topic and conduct in-depth research.

19. Recurring Themes in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

There are over 150 sonnets created by Shakespeare, and many of them have recurring themes or main ideas. For this topic, you should pick several sonnets that you consider to be similar by poetic meaning, and try to defend your position, supporting it with scholarly sources.

20. King Lear Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s tragic play “King Lear” presents powerful themes of family, madness, and justice, offering captivating Shakespeare essay topics. One possible subject to explore is parent-child relationships in the play. Analyze the dynamics between King Lear and his daughters and the themes of love, loyalty, and betrayal in their interactions. Here are also some other ideas for research paper topics.

  • Justice and Moral Consequences. Explore the concepts of divine and human justice and how characters’ actions lead to redemption or punishment.
  • Blindness and Insight. Discuss the metaphorical significance of blindness and insight in the play, exploring the characters’ self-discovery and self-deception.

21. Use of Rhetorical Devices

The use of rhetoric devices defines the persuasiveness of a literary work and emotional reaction from it. Among the most used tools in Shakespearian literature are similes, metaphors, and parallelism. In your research paper, you can examine a rhetoric component of his work or works, and explain how efficiently or inefficiently it was implemented.

22. The Symbolism of Shakespearian Literature

It is common to literature when one feature in the text (statement) actually represents something else, and many authors tend to implement abstract ideas in their writings. In your paper, try to track such symbolism in Shakespeare’s work or works. Explain how the understanding of this symbolism adds to the perception of the writing overall.

23. The Theme of Revenge

Talking about Shakespeare, it is also necessary to mention “Hamlet,” one of his most famous and recognized creations. There are numerous researches focused on this writing, and you can just pick one of them and strive to add something new. For instance, you can examine the theme of revenge and hesitations of the main character, depicted in “Hamlet.”

24. Educational Value of Shakespeare’s Oeuvre

Since Shakespearean literature is covered in curriculum of almost every educational institution, you can build your research paper on explaining the reasons of why Shakespeare’s works are either vital for education or overestimated. However, remember that this is not merely a reflection paper, which means that it also needs you to do research and refer opinions of scholars.

Jacob Lee Top-10 Writer at

My favorite topic about Shakespeare is whether Hamlet is a hero or a villain. His character is so profound and multi-vectored that one can never reach the bottom. Is he a madman, or is the world around him mad? Did he love Ophelia, or was it a game? Shakespeare’s classics will never be outdated.

Approaching the Research Phase for a Shakespeare Research Project

When beginning research papers on Shakespeare, it is critical to approach the research process strategically to provide a complete and well-informed analysis. Shakespeare’s works have been thoroughly researched and evaluated by researchers and scholars throughout the years, giving a wealth of knowledge and insights into his literary brilliance. Here are some critical steps to effectively approach the research phase of your research about William Shakespeare, drawing from the studies of Shakespeare researchers:

  • Selecting a Research Topic. Choose a topic or theme that interests you the most. Consider the vast array of topics available, such as Shakespeare’s use of symbolism, exploration of gender roles, portrayal of tragedy, or examination of historical events in his plays. Shakespeare researchers have covered extensive subjects, allowing you to build upon their work while bringing a fresh perspective to your chosen topic.
  • Consult Scholarly Journals and Databases. To start your research, delve into academic journals, databases, and digital libraries that host peer-reviewed articles and research papers dedicated to Shakespearean studies. The studies conducted by researchers in these sources will offer valuable insights, critical analyses, and interpretations of Shakespeare’s works that can inform and enrich your research.
  • Analyze Critical Editions and Annotated Texts. Explore critical editions and annotated versions of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. These editions often include valuable annotations, commentaries, and explanations by experienced Shakespeare scholars. They provide context, historical background, and textual analysis that can deepen your understanding of the works and aid in crafting well-supported arguments.
  • Engage with Academic Books. Reference books and monographs written by Shakespeare researchers can be excellent sources for in-depth knowledge of specific aspects of his literature. Seek out renowned authors specializing in Shakespearean studies, as they have likely conducted extensive research and expertly analyzed the topic.
  • Attend Academic Conferences and Seminars. Shakespeare-themed academic conferences and seminars offer direct opportunities to interact with scholars and researchers. Listening to their presentations and engaging in discussions can expose you to the latest advancements in Shakespearean studies and provide valuable feedback on your research ideas.
  • Explore Digital Archives and Online Resources. Many universities and institutions host digital archives and online resources related to Shakespeare. These platforms contain historical documents, essays, and primary sources that can offer unique insights and context to your research.
  • Utilize University Libraries. It is an invaluable resource for your research if you can access a university library. Librarians can guide you to relevant books, articles, and materials, and the library’s vast collection of academic sources will support your in-depth analysis.
  • Cross-Reference and Verify Information. As you gather information from different sources, cross-reference and verify the information to maintain accuracy and credibility in your research. Use reputable academic databases and citation tools to keep proper sourcing and citation.

By following these steps and drawing upon the studies of Shakespeare researchers, you can confidently approach the research phase of your paper and develop a well-founded and compelling analysis of Shakespeare’s timeless literary contributions.

Shakespear Research Project


Approaching the Writing Process of an Essay on William Shakespeare

Consider writing a captivating William Shakespeare essay to deepen your understanding of Shakespeare’s works. To effectively tackle this project, consider the following key tips:

  • Topic Selection. Begin by choosing a specific topic related to Shakespeare that piques your interest. It could be one of the provided keywords, such as “religion research paper topics” or “William Shakespeare research topics.”
  • Conduct In-Depth Research. Delve into reputable sources, academic journals, and scholarly articles to gather relevant information about your chosen research paper topic. Make notes and organize your findings systematically.
  • Refine Your Thesis Statement. Formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects the main argument or focus of your essay on Shakespeare. This statement will guide the direction of your writing.
  • Organize Your Paper. Outline your research paper with a well-structured framework. Divide it into sections, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Incorporate Shakespearean Texts. Reference Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, or poems related to your chosen Shakespeare topic. Use direct quotations and analyze how they contribute to your research.
  • Edit and Revise. Carefully revise your research paper to ensure clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and proper citations.
  • Proofreading. Always proofread your final draft before submission. Ensure your paper adheres to the required formatting style (e.g., APA, MLA) and citation guidelines.

By following these key tips, you can navigate the writing process of your Shakespeare paper with confidence and produce a well-structured, insightful, and engaging piece of academic work.


To sum up, William Shakespeare was a truly outstanding author since there are hundreds of thousands of studies devoted to his works and many more that are conducted now. With the help of the mentioned-above topics, your research paper can carry on this academic race, and maybe you will be the one to reveal something new about Shakespeare’s oeuvre.

About authors
James Snyder A Top-10 writer at
James is one of the most prominent authors on our team with more than 7 years of experience. He specializes in writing essays and coursework. James loves to work from home with a cup of hot chocolate and his cat Archibald.
Kate Roth A Top-10 writer at
Kate likes to read long stories and write essays. She’s experienced in both academic writing and marketing activities, so she can tell everything about a writer’s job in a few simple words. You can use our website to request the help of our experts anytime.

Upgrade your essays with these FREE writing tools!
Get started now