At the very end of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Fortinbras of Norway arrives at Elsinore and finds a terrible scene of bloodshed. Three of the victims are royal personages, including the prince Hamlet. Fortinbras praises Hamlet and suggests that he would have been a successful warrior and king, like his father, had he been given the chance.
From what you’ve learned about Hamlet’s character and worldview from Shakespeare’s play, what kind of king do you think he would have been, had he not been killed in the staged duel with Laertes? Answer this question in an essay of about 1000 words, supporting your “reading” of Hamlet’s character with evidence from the play and with the support of all four articles provided by me. (See the list below.) Make sure that you use plenty of quotations from the play and plenty of “specifics” (quoted, paraphrased, and summarized) from the articles.
I encourage you to proceed by first deciding on your own answer to the question, supported by evidence from the play. Once you know your own mind and have a tentative thesis for your essay, bring in analysis from four of the following articles or videos–called “secondary sources.
Secondary sources (find each link in this sub-unit on the Content screen):
“The Customary and the Ethical: Understanding Hamlet’s Bad Habits,” Michael D. Bristol
“Hamlet’s Not Depressed; He’s Grieving,” Meg O’Rourke
“Adolescence as Represented in Hamlet,” Meg Harris Williams
“The Roots of Procrastination,” Jennifer Kosmas
Interview with Stephen Greenblatt, on Charlie Rose (video)
Uncovering Shakespeare: Hamlet, with David Tennant (video)
The article by Michael Bristol is not linked to this screen. It is available on the Content screen as a .pdf file.
You’ll find that you can use some of these sources’ ideas to back you up and others to argue against as you support and explain your analysis of Hamlet’s character and potential.
You must use MLA manuscript format for your essay, and you must use MLA-compliant documentation (in-text citations and a Works Cited page) for quotations from the play and for material quoted, paraphrased, or summarized from the articles. We will be going over documentation in class.