Here is the student debrief for our recent production of Hamlet, Prince of Somewhere Cold. If you’re thinking about putting on a Shakespeare play, or if you’re despairing in a current production, read this. Call it, a message from beyond the black hole…
So you think you know Hamlet? See if you can answer these questions.
(a) A Roman soldier who hates commoners
(b) A Scottish king who consults witches
(c) A Danish prince who loves to talk
Here are some insights my students came up on their own with from The Tempest. I haven’t shared their names, but will when I get permission. Great job!
Making the best of a bad situation
It’s in human nature to make the best of a bad situation, as many do in The Tempest. What comes of it depends on the way you go about achieving it. Two groups of characters in The Tempest show two different approaches: The first group, Stephano, Trinculo, Antonio, and Sebastian, goes about it in a way that exploits others for their own personal gain, while the second group, Prospero, Ferdinand and Gonzalo goes about in a different way. They change their perspective on things. It turns out, making the best of a bad situation does not necessarily have anything to do with changing things.
- Macduff is the only character who shows real humanity in the play
- Contrast his character with the lack of humanity showed by others, highlighting the specific points in which he shows “true” human emotion)
- The Witches are responsible for all the evils of the play
- Explain why the responsibility lies on them instead of on Macbeth for his own actions.
- Lady Macbeth’s rejection of her feminine traits while attempting to adopt masculine qualities is the root of all the unnatural and evil events in the play, leading to the downfall of herself and her husband.
- Through the use of gender stereotypes in the play, Macbeth, Shakespeare sends a message that straying from one’s culturally assigned gender expectations is dangerous.
- Through the use of gender stereotypes in the play, Macbeth, Shakespeare sends a message that straying from one’s culturally assigned gender expectations is dangerous, but only for women.
- Without the presence of overwhelming guilt, Macbeth’s ambition would have led him to true success
- Explain how the actions that lead most directly to his downfall are committed out of guilt and/or paranoia
- Macbeth’s guilt leads to the loss of his sanity and ultimately his downfall.
- When Macbeth’s honor is at its highest points, his sanity is also apparent, but when his ambition overtakes his honor, his signs of insanity show.
Have you ever fancied yourself as a bit of a Hamlet? Wanted to strut your stuff around a gloomy Danish castle, annoying your uncle the king and insulting his advisor? Thought of having your school friends murdered or fighting your dead girlfriend’s brother? Want to muse for hours over the question of mortality and existence?
If your answer to any of these questions is “I’ll have to think about it”, then you just might have the qualities necessary to make you one of the growing band of procrastinators much in demand in local government.
At the Elsinore University of Hamlet we will undertake to train you to fully fledged Hamlet in under a month at very competitive rates. We pledge that you will be able to avenge your father’s untimely death in under six weeks – or your money back!!
Still not sure? Excellent! You’ve obviously got what it takes.
Below is an excerpt from a speech I made at the end-of-the-year Awards Ceremony.
When we started studying this play, I asked the students what theythought the lessons of the play were. They came up with a few things, but since then some have asked a number of times, What are the Lessons of Midsummer Night’s Dream? So, I decided to sit down and come up with ten lessons of A MSND.
Here they are. I hope you add to them for years to come. Continue reading Ten Lessons from A Midsummer Night’s Dream