Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Advisor

Pigeon, Renee

Second Advisor

Haviland, Carol

Third Advisor

Carlson, David


This thesis explores the function and importance of silence throughout William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Along with analysis of Shakespeare's text, this thesis also reviews and analyzes three film versions of the play: Laurence Olivier's 1948 production, Kenneth Branagh's 1996 production, and Michael Almereyda's 2000 production. All of these showcase various depictions of silence while working with the same Shakespearian text and plotline. Throughout the text and film analyses this thesis explores three areas in which silence plays an important role: refusal to join a conversation, emotional distress rendering someone silent, and societal limitations placed on the individual. This thesis attempts to examine silence in its most natural forms. Throughout this examination, it is the moments without words that aid in the shaping of our understanding of Hamlet.