Your presentations are done; your projects are due on Friday. So what now?
As you know, your next task will be to write an essay on Hamlet arguing either for or against its relevance to a 21st century high school student. But I want you to think outside the box in terms of your arguments. Avoid the obvious traps that people fall into when defending or tearing down Shakespeare.
We are going to start by brainstorming in 2 different groups. One team will brainstorm all the possible reasons why Hamlet would still be relevant for 21st century students. One team will do the opposite and then you will switch.
Then I’m going to have you record your own notes about what you think the most compelling arguments from both sides are.
Find points to refute. Post your refutation. Make sure you put your name on the post. Post it. Connect it to the point you’re refuting.
Next I’m going to model for you how you take support from a text and analyse it in the context of an essay.
Let’s imagine that I am writing an essay on Shakespeare’s use of imagery of disease and corruption:
In Act 1 Scene 2, Hamlet reflects on the state of Denmark following the death of his father and marriage of his mother to his Uncle Claudius. He says that Denmark is “…an unweeded garden / That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature /
Possess it merely” (1.2.139-141). The metaphor of a garden is an interesting one to describe Denmark because a garden conjures up the allusion of the biblical Garden of Eden. This implies that at one point, for Hamlet, Denmark was a paradise–a paradise ruined by knowledge, but what knowledge cast Hamlet out of Eden? There are two possibilities: one, Hamlet’s understanding of his own mortality because of the death of his father; and two, Hamlet’s understanding of his mother as a sexual being. Both of these ideas are supported by Hamlet’s use of the word “rank” and the phrase “grows to seed.” Rank is a pun referring both to the idea of corruption and hierarchy, suggesting that Claudius’s new rank is a corruption of his father’s kingship, while the phrase “grows to seed” suggests a kind of unchecked sexuality that exists at the expense of the other people in the kingdom.