Analyzing a Scene from Hamlet

In this assignment, you will select a scene from Hamlet to analyze. Although you are encouraged to both read and view the work in its entirety, for practical time considerations, this will not be necessary for this assignment; instead you will be focusing on one scene.

First, read this synopsis of the entire play, found here: (Links to an external site.)

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Next, select a scene to analyze. Your tendency might be to go for the famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy, but know that Hamlet is full of great scenes, and it might be easier to say something revealing if you choose a scene that is less well-known. Ultimately, try to choose a scene that seems – at least in its description – to seize your attention or interest. You can find a synopsis of each scene at this site: (Links to an external site.)

Now you must read the scene. As you do, keep in mind that Hamlet is not only considered one of the greatest dramas for performance, it is also regarded as one of the greatest pieces of literature in English – and even world – literature. Pay close attention to the language Shakespeare uses, the turns of phrase, and the ways he creates his characters and moves the action of the plot along. It would be useful to keep notes as you read, marking places that seem significant in some way, and noting any aspects of the text that strike you (here, you might find it useful to employ some of your learning from the literature module of our course). You can find the entire script of Hamlet, complete with helpful footnotes to assist with problems of language or meaning, here: (Links to an external site.)

Finally, watch a staging of your scene. Youtube has countless versions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, scene-by-scene. You can also watch an entire production on the Kanopy streaming site, through the FSW library. As you watch the staging, pay attention to how this literary work is brought to life. Does the interpretation agree with yours? Does it seem to reveal anything about the scene that you hadn’t experienced from reading of it? How are the characters brought to life? How is the stage used? What kind of Hamlet do you get from this interpretation (bear in mind, interpretations of the character of Hamlet can range from indecisive and moody to insane, or even insanely clever)? Be sure and include an explanation for why you chose the scene you did.

Write an analysis following the guidelines for this assignment. Feel free to offer a link and/or use any visuals that you think would help or might make your writing assignment look good. The assignment should be at least 250 words. It will be assessed on its formal clarity, the quality of the writing and editing, its degree of engagement with its topic, its creativity/inventiveness/originality of ideas, and the sophistication of thought it expresses.

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