Another Hamlet

Junior English

January 13th, 2013

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For your enjoyment, David Tennant plays Hamlet, Patrick Stewart is Claudius. Let me know what you think!

Watch Hamlet on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Proposal Prep.

British Literature, World Literature

September 19th, 2010

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Quick reminder that you’ll be presenting your proposals in class on Monday. I want to emphasize that this is not a stand-in-front-of-the-class-and-read-from-notecards sort of thing; you’ll remain sitting, explain your potential thesis and the support you have, the research you still need to do, and the class will provide suggestions for further connections/evidence and questions about your argument.

How are they coming? Send me an email or post a comment below if you have a question.

Here’s a quick question to ask of your proposed (hypo)thesis1:

Is it something I need to prove (that’s good), or something that just happens in the texts (that’s bad)?

Bad (hypo)thesis2: Hamlet and Meursault both isolate themselves from the rest of society, commit murder, and accept a death by the hand of another.

While this is a neat connection, it provides little insight into the texts—merely provides comparison. For a better comparison, I looked into how each views his death and why he accepts it as he does:

Better (hypo)thesis: On the night of Meursault’s execution, he realizes the “gentle indifference of the universe,” while Hamlet notes that there’s “special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” Though their paths are quite different, both Hamlet and Meursault find a kind of solace in the inevitability their deaths; Hamlet is resigned to divine providence while Meursault finally welcomes the absurdity of life and death.

This connection provides better insight into the characters’ motivations and will elicit questions for further explanation (is Hamlet really religious? what does “absurd” mean in this context? how are their paths different?), which will be addressed in the body of the essay. Remember that your theses are tentative at this point; they need not be perfect (this one certainly isn’t), but only to provide a starting point for further study and elucidation.

After your (hypo)thesis you should include as much support as you have discovered, any resources (or parts of the works) you still need to mull over, as well as any problems you foresee in the process.

  1. I’m using The Stranger by Albert Camus and Hamlet so I don’t step on any connections you may be considering, but the format should be the same. []
  2. go sit in the corner. []

O proud death…

British Literature

September 15th, 2010

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So that was epic. We wrapped up Hamlet in class today. Give yourself a pat on the back; you’ve just annotated one of the greatest works of Western literature. Now comes the fun part: telling others what you’ve learned. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s rue for you; and here’s some for me

British Literature

September 11th, 2010

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When we last heard from our tragic hero, he had just boarded a pirate ship ( because no epic story is complete without pirates. Meanwhile, his girlfriend has lost her mind, and her brother is willing to “dare damnation” (IV.v) in his quest for revenge. Good times.

To clarify where we are in the writing process (oh yes—you have already begun writing your papers):

You have journals chock full of quotations and responses to several poems, each potentially connected to the play. (If you don’t, now would be a good time to re-read them in light of what you know about Hamlet.)

In this same journal, you have record of the awesomeness (themes, motifs, questions, answers, etc.) of the play.

Most of you presented a connection between a poem (or two) and the play. Your connection ideas ranged from the desperation of the speaker in “Not Waving but Drowning” and Hamlet’s situation, to the theme of power in “Ozymandias” or “Viva la Vida” and Claudius’ ascension to the throne, to a contrast between the death of Hamlet’s father and Thomas’s in “Do not go gentle.” Solid ones, all.

Remember, this is very early pre-writing; no matter how small or “wrong” you might think your idea is, it is important to get your ideas on paper. A small or weak idea will lead you to a larger or stronger one as you collect your thoughts and support.

Start recording why you see this connection—write out an explanation of why the poem seems to represent the connection you’ve made, then the play. As you do this, look for ways of expanding or focusing your topic. For example, if your “theme is death of fathers” (I.ii), you would want to explore the death of King Hamlet and Polonius (looking toward “Do not go gentle,” maybe). From there, you could expand it to include death in general (and “Meditation #17”), or focus it on death and the afterlife (“Death be not proud,” Hamlet’s hesitation (III.iii)). Don’t worry too much about proper sentence structure and such right now. The stuff you write now will turn into an outline in the next step, anyway.

We’ll be talking about this in more detail next week, but definitely get started in the meantime; make sure your journals are complete to, review your journal sections on the poems, and begin fleshing out your connections.

Quick Hamlet Update

British Literature

September 7th, 2010

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We read through III.i in class today. Your work for the evening: