2021 HAMLET ANALYSIS
The Entire Play Through One Line
For this two-day writing assignment, you will compose an argument that interprets the entire play through one line.
Shakespeare’s language is so rich that even the simplest lines can resonate beyond their immediate context. One great example of this is the first line of the play: “Who’s there?” As Dr. Hynes talked about in the introduction video to the play, this seemingly innocuous question captures many of the play’s biggest themes and questions: The prevalence of surveillance and spying; is the ghost a “spirit of health” or a “goblin damned”?; is Hamlet mad or just “mad in craft”; and, despite Polonius’s famous adage, is anyone actually true to themselves?
Your job is to develop an argument that pursues one of the rich themes that your line captures. Remember that to make an argument, you will need to take a side, which means answering any questions you pose and developing a firm and bold interpretation of the play’s position on the ideas captured in the line you are building from. Don’t just summarize all the different ways the line resonates with the play: make a claim about WHY and HOW that line captures the development of character and/or theme.
●No hook necessary, but you do need to introduce the play, the line and its context, and then your argument.
●Include a brief roadmap.
2 Supporting Paragraphs:
●Begin with arguable topic sentences and support with well-chosen evidence and thoughtful analysis
●Do NOT provide quotes to prove plot action
●Your overall essay must contain at least 4 strong close readings–aim for 2 per paragraph
●In around two sentences, address a character that you haven’t yet addressed to show how they and/or their actions also reflect the essence of your line.
You will choose one of the three lines below, and your job is to come to class on the first writing day with a chosen line, a developed thesis claim (2-3 sentences with your claim + roadmap) and four pieces of evidence—no more or less than that.
“There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”
“What a piece of work is a man . . . ”
“I do not know, my Lord, what I should think.”
You will begin writing on Day 1 and you will finish writing on Day 2, turning in your essay to Google Classroom and to Turnitin.com at the end of class on the second day. Focus on one paragraph on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.
We are grading this as an in-class writing assignment, so you will not be permitted to do any writing or editing in between your two class days. You’ll submit your doc on Day 1, and we’ll return it to you on Day 2.
ACADEMIC HONESTY REMINDER
Please remember that the department policy is that all work must be your own. For this assignment in particular, you are not to do any online research or to consult any study guides.
The best way to avoid academic dishonesty is simply to avoid the internet completely!