"Hamlet" was written at a time when there were a number of plots against Queen Elizabeth I, suggesting the vulnerability of the monarch.
Hamlet: AS & A2
Gertrude and Ophelia are used as pawns, reflecting the relatively powerless position of women in patriarchal Renaissance society.
"Hamlet" belongs to the genre of Revenge Tragedies, which were popular in Shakespeare’s day, but Hamlet is a more complex character than many Elizabethan revengers.
Claudius is a scheming, Machiavellian figure; Hamlet’s philosophical soliloquies reveal the humanist context of the play.
"Hamlet" reveals Elizabethan attitudes and beliefs about both the importance of masculine honour and the supernatural.