Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shakespeare's HAMLET

As we read Hamlet, consider the following major themes:

Revenge: Hamlet searches continuously for the answer to the question of whether or not he should avenge his father’s death. His concern with right and wrong in religious, moral, and political terms causes him much inner turmoil.
(Journal Topics 1, 2)
Appearance vs. Reality: The play contains many situations in which the surface appearance of things does not always match reality. Hamlet struggles to determine who his true friends are; the players in the acting troupe assume new identities; Claudius appears to be a true and just king and Gertrude his virtuous queen. (Journal Topics 4, 8, 10, 11)
Sanity vs. Insanity: In many ways this conflict is intertwined with the theme of appearance vs. reality. Hamlet’s sanity or insanity has baffled critics for years. Even the characters in the play discuss inconsistencies in Hamlet’s behavior,sometimes assuming he is really insane, at other times amazed by his clarity of thought. (Journal Topics 3, 9)
: Among the most powerful images of the play are those which reveal disintegrating situations, both in personal terms for Prince Hamlet, and in political terms for Denmark. (Journal Topics 1, 2, 9, 12)

Journal Topics

Journal Topics
• How common do you believe the act of revenge is in everyday life? Write about specific incidents, including any in which you were involved or have witnessed.
• Find magazine/newspaper articles, short stories, plays, poems, or novels containing events motivated by revenge. How might events have been changed had someone not sought revenge?
• Characterize yourself as a "thinker" or a "doer." In this respect what character in the play are you most like? How would you like to be different, or would you like to be different?
• Have you or anyone you have known ever seen or claimed to have witnessed some kind of supernatural being? Explain the circumstances surrounding the event. Do you believe in the supernatural? Explain.
• In Act I, scene iii of Hamlet, Polonius gives Laertes a great deal of "fatherly advice" about how to live his life. Look at this section and find advice you have heard from your own parents. How valuable is this advice? Have you used it? Have you been involved in any situation to which this advice was applicable?
• To what extent do parents have the right to "spy" or check up on their children? What circumstance might allow or prevent this?
• How are relationships between stepparents and stepchildren generally depicted in fiction or film? Do you have any experience with or knowledge of step-relationships? What conflicts and barriers must be overcome? What are the advantages, the positive aspects of these relationships?
• Are parents generally blind to their children’s faults? Why or why not?
• King Claudius states "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go." (III, i) How is this true in any age? What evidence can you find in recent news stories to support this statement? How do societies keep checks and balances on their "great ones?"
• So you know what an "apple polisher" is? Have you every known one or been one yourself? Why do you think people do this? How do you feel about it?
• Have you ever been the victim of unrequited love? How did you feel? Have you ever been the recipient of affection from someone whom you did not care about? How did you feel about this situation?
• Write about a time when you discovered that someone was purposefully plotting against you for some reason. Explain the situation—how you felt, how it turned out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

House of Seven Gables questions

Post an individual response to 3 of these questions or essay topics for individual credit.

Your post should show evidence of critical thinking and reference to the text.
Your 3 posts are due on Monday, May 24, for full credit.

1. Who would you say is the principal protagonist of The House of the Seven Gables? Who is the principal antagonist?
2. In the Preface, Hawthorne claims his book is a romance rather than a novel. Romances need not deal with “everyday, ordinary things” and usually incorporate fantastic elements. Do you think that The House of the Seven Gables is more of a romance or a novel? Should it be classified as another genre altogether?
3. Discuss the role of “fate” in the novel. How much of the Pyncheons’ bad luck is caused by fate, and how much results from their own actions and choices?

Suggested Essay Topics

1. Discuss the presence of decay and decaying things in The House of the Seven Gables. What does decay symbolize in the novel?
2. Can Clifford be considered a good person? How is his goodness or malice reflected in the way he treats Phoebe and Hepzibah?
3. Discuss the role of hypnotism and mesmerism in The House of the Seven Gables.
4. How is Phoebe different from all the other characters in the novel? Does she resemble any one character more than the others? If so, why?
5. Why does Hepzibah continue to refuse the Judge’s offers of financial help? Can these offers be viewed as genuine, or are there by ulterior motives?

Monday, May 17, 2010

House of Seven Gables Study guide

Go to website, use study questions for discussion, post a group comment

Scarlet Letter Discussion Questions

Go to website, discuss questions, post a group response.

The Scarlet Letter Questions for Study and Discussion

The Scarlet Letter is one of the greatest works by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here are a few questions for study and discussion.
  • What is important about the title?
  • What are the conflicts in The Scarlet Letter? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novel?
  • How does Nathaniel Hawthorne reveal character in The Scarlet Letter?
  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in The Scarlet Letter? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is Hester consistent in her actions? Is she a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?
  • Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • How does this novel relate to feminist literature? Is Hester a strong female character?
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
  • What is the role of women in the text? How are mothers represented? What about single/independent women?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10-Study Literary Terms/Reduced Shakespeare

View Reduced Shakespeare Company video

Study for Wednesday's AP exam---literary terms