Thursday, October 10, 2013


a) What do you know about Hamlet, the "Melancholy Dane"?

I know next to nothing about Hamlet. The only thing I can think of is a quote from a video we saw in LeClair's class three years ago, where Ophelia (is that her name?) is screaming, "Cut the crap, Hamlet! My biological clock is ticking and I want babies now!" ...or something like that.

b) What do you know about Shakespeare?

Shakespeare wrote a LOT of plays, most (all?) of which are in iambic pentameter. In his plays, he made up words and phrases which have become quite commonplace today, although in many cases people don't know that the word or phrase in question originated with Shakespeare. His plays are also repeatedly referenced in art, literature, and pop culture (how many songs can you think of that use the names Romeo and Juliet? I can think of three right now); in other words, Shakespeare continues to be verrrry influential.

c) Why do so many students involuntarily frown when they hear the name "Shakespeare"?

Shakespeare is difficult to read because of all the crazy wordplay and puns he uses, many of which refer to archaic figures of speech that confuse modern audiences. For example, I specifically remember having noooo idea what was going on during the Nurse's monologue in Romeo and Juliet (14-year-old Lisa says, "Okay, I guess that makes sense, if you fall backwards you won't get dirt on your face or whatever, but why is that so funny? I don't get this..."). Also, trying to READ the plays sometimes doesn't make much sense; seeing them performed clarifies things immensely when you actually get to see/hear the actors' blocking, gestures, intonation, etc.

d) What can we do to make studying this play an amazing experience we'll never forget?

Maybe it's just 'cause I'm a drama person, but I love reading plays out loud in class (but Dr. Preston if you decide to do it this way PLEASE assign characters by volunteering only! Read-throughs by people who don't want to read are bad. Besides making the victims uncomfortable, it also takes lines away from the people who actually WANT to read who would do a better job anyway.)

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