As we leave poetry and begin our drama unit in the coming weeks, we will be reading and watching Hamlet, Shakespeare’s five-act play, going over one act almost every week. For your text of Hamlet, I have provided a link to an onlineversion of the play in the “Web Links” area, but any version that you can find will do. (I recommend the “NoFear Shakespeare HAMLET” text published by SPARK NOTES that I have made available at the bookstore for $5.95). Read my brief introductory power point on Hamlet (Lesson 7 in the Lessons and Assignments area). Then read Act 1 and watch the film version as well. (A link of the film has also been provided in the Web Links area. Act 1 is about 51 minutes long.)
One of the major themes of the play might be described as “appearances vs. reality.” In other words, the young prince Hamlet’s discovery about his father’s death has shaken the foundations of his being. He always believed that he could trust his senses and felt confident that things were what they appeared to be. Now he wonders if there is not some hidden, darker reality lurking underneath the appearances of things. In other words, Hamlet is no longer sure that he can believe his eyes, or that things are what they seem to be.
In a text critique of 500-750 words, give some examples of things that Hamlet and others are no longer sure of. Quote and explain specific speeches made by Hamlet that reflect his uncertain state of mind, as well as speeches by others in Act 1 which bring this theme to the surface.
IMPORTANT: In this and future assignments, be sure to quote from Shakespeare’s text, NOT the translation. The translation is on each facing page only to help you understand the more difficult passages.
Hamlet full text
Hamlet film by Kenneth Branagh
If clicking this link to the film does not work, copy and paste it directly into the URL address area of your browser. That should work.