Friday, November 22, 2013

For the Weekend...

Watch Act IV (text):

Through Minute 53

If you have time, feel free to watch the end!
More of Mel Gibson's Hamlet plus classic youtube magic.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Breaking the Fourth Wall

Breaking the Fourth Wall:

HWK: For Friday... It should not take long! So if last night was too much, go back and catch up!



Please read this biography at

ALSO: Answer the following questions - print out or handwrite the answers - BY THIS FRIDAY.

1. When and where was Shakespeare born?

2. What was the name of Shakespeare's son?

3. What plays were performed at the Globe?

4. When and where did Shakespeare die?

5. What was Shakespeare's first collection of plays called?

6. Why is Shakespeare's time consider dubbed an "Expansive Age"?

7. What were some of the famous "stories" about Shakespeare?

8. What is the debate about authorship?

9. What Shakespeare FAQs did you find most interesting?

Feel free to explore the site more.

Just for fun - checkout:


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

HWK: For Thursday.... and Friday.

Watch Act III Scene II - Scene IIII:

From 1:26 through to the end at 1:41:08

What did you find most interesting in the Mousetrap Scene?
And finish Act III Scene III - through minute 25:

(Please follow along in your book - page 100 in our edition of the text.)

Why doesn't Hamlet kill King Claudius after the play?
What did you find most interesting in the scene with Hamlet and his mother?
Consider the Oedipal complex in analyzing this scene.


 Please read this biography at

ALSO: Answer the following questions - print out or handwrite the answers - BY THIS FRIDAY.

1. When and where was Shakespeare born?

2. What was the name of Shakespeare's son?

3. What plays were performed at the Globe?

4. When and where did Shakespeare die?

5. What was Shakespeare's first collection of plays called?

6. Why is Shakespeare's time consider dubbed an "Expansive Age"?

7. What were some of the famous "stories" about Shakespeare?

8. What is the debate about authorship?

9. What Shakespeare FAQs did you find most interesting?

Feel free to explore the site more.

Hamlet's Search for Action...

When I think of Hamlet's procrastination to avenge his father's death, I wonder what self-help we could offer him today - or what my mother would say to him when he says:

"Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me
it is a prison."

When I was eighteen my mother gave me another book, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, I was stubborn and didn't read it until one year for a senior seminar course I had to teach it. An incredible story, ranked one of the most inspirational works of all-time, Frankl endures the horror of the Nazi death camps and lives to tell the tale. His purpose was to survive and find meaning in the bleakest of situations that we cannot even imagine, yet Frankl's story comes close, so that we may learn from his experience. His goal that such atrocities never occur again.

The lasting lesson that I return to again and again, especially at the low points in life:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 
― Viktor E. FranklMan's Search for Meaning

It's a choice. If you think you're life is a prison, it is.

Or like Hamlet:

O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count
myself a king of infinite space...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HWK: For Wednesday...

(Yes, you must watch all the clips - your responses need not be long.)
Bring your answers to class - hand written is fine!

ACT II, Scene II (Part 2)
1. In the scene above, what interesting choices does David Tennant make as Hamlet?

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - enter at minute 2.

2. (Again, from the scene above) what do you find most interesting in this conversation below?

Denmark's a prison.
ROSENCRANTZThen is the world one.
HAMLETA goodly one; in which there are many confines,
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.
ROSENCRANTZWe think not so, my lord.240
HAMLETWhy, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me
it is a prison.
ROSENCRANTZWhy then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too
narrow for your mind.
HAMLETO God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count
myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I
have bad dreams.
GUILDENSTERNWhich dreams indeed are ambition, for the very
substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
HAMLETA dream itself is but a shadow.251
ROSENCRANTZTruly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a
quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.
HAMLETThen are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and
outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we
to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
GUILDENSTERNWe'll wait upon you.
HAMLETNo such matter: I will not sort you with the rest
of my servants, for, to speak to you like an honest
man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the
beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?261
ROSENCRANTZTo visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
HAMLETBeggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I
thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are
too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it
your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come,
deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
GUILDENSTERNWhat should we say, my lord?
HAMLETWhy, any thing, but to the purpose. You were sent
for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks
which your modesties have not craft enough to colour:
I know the good king and queen have sent for you.272
ROSENCRANTZTo what end, my lord?
HAMLETThat you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by
the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of
our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved
love, and by what more dear a better proposer could
charge you withal, be even and direct with me,
whether you were sent for, or no?
HAMLET[Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you
love me, hold not off.281
GUILDENSTERNMy lord, we were sent for.
HAMLETI will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king
and queen moult no feather. I have of late--but
wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling301
you seem to say so.

ACT II, Scene II (Part 3)
The Players:

3. In the passage written below (and the one that you just watched above), what has happened that Polonius finds so remarkable?

First Player:
But if the gods themselves did see here then
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,490
The instant burst of clamour that she made,
Unless things mortal move them not at all,
Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
And passion in the gods.'
LORD POLONIUS:Look, whether he has not turned his colour and has

tears in's eyes. Pray you, no more.

4. Which "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I" Soliloquy do you find most compelling and why?

 A. Kenneth Branaugh

B. Richard Burton
C. David Tennant

For online text:

Now I am alone.520
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,530
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,540
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall550
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,560
A scullion!
Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;570
I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play 's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Please watch these for homework:

Compare and contrast ACT II SCENE 1&2:


Original Pronunciation in Shakespeare's Time:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanks for doing your homework!

Quote 1: "And then, sir, does 'a this- 'a does - what was I about to say? By the mass, I was about to say something. Where did I leave?"  (Act 2 Scene 1 Lines 50-53)
Question 1: Why did he lose track? Is there significance in this, or is it just meant to highlight his old age?

Quote 2: "This is the very ecstasy of love" (Act 2 Scene 1 Line 102)
Question 2: Is this the reaction Hamlet wanted Polonius to have? Is this part of his fake madness, or is he really that into Ophelia?

Quote 3: "I doubt it is no other but the main, His father's death and our o'er-hasty marriage." (Act 2 Scene 2 Lines 56-57)
Question 3: Does the Queen realize how foolish she and the new king have been in being so hasty with their plans? Does she really care that this may have driven Hamlet mad? Does she ever acknowledge the events that actually transpired/what the ghost told Hamlet happened? Or has all of this actually driven Hamlet mad, and he only hallucinated the ghost's message?

Incontiency - Dissatisfaction, Discontent
Fordoes - Kills, Puts an End to Life
Perpend - Ponder, Consider, Examine

Quote 1: “Faith no, as you may season it in the charge. You must not put another scandal on him, that he is open to incontinency-that’s not my meaning; but breathe his faults so quaintly that they may seem the taints of liberty, the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind, a savageness in unreclaimed blood of general assault” (Act 2, Scene 1, lines 28-35)

Question 1: Why does Polonius ask Reynaldo to join Laertes and encourage his addictions and bad habits, but then asks him not to get Laertes in trouble and make his sins appear less evil? He seems to contradict himself in this quote compared to what he said minutes before. And why does he want to spy on Laertes but then help him by saying his faults are only the taints of liberty?

Quote 2: “But you must fear his greatness weigh’d, his will is not his own. For he himself is subject to his birth: he may not, as unvalu’d persons do, carve himself for of his choice depends the sanity and health of this whole state. And thereof must his choice be circumsiz’d.”

Question 2:  Shakespeare’s metaphor for Hamlet’s choice when he states ‘his choice must be circumsized’ is a metaphor for what?

Quote 3: “But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better propsper can change your withal.”

Question: What does this babbling have to do with getting a direct answer from Guildenstein and Rosencratz? Why does he ironically use artful language while trying to get a direct answer?

vouchsafe- to grant in a gracious manner
incontinency- when you go to the bathroom involuntarily
matin – morning prayer in a church
Lazar-desolate, sickly person with a contagious disease. Usually outcasted by society

2. "I doubt it is no other but the main, His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage." Gertrude act 2, scene 2, lines 56-57
Question: does Gertrude even care that her son is suffering? She thinks it is a direct result from her actions but she doesn't seem to do anything about it.

3. "Your noble son is mad." Polonius act 2 scene 2 line 93
This is not a question about this specific line, but rather a stylistic question. Later on in lines 170-210 why does Polonius' text change to prose as well. I'm assuming Shakespeare changed Hamlet's to prose in order to portray his insanity, but if Polonius is supposed to be sane, why does his speech change from order to free verse? 

1. Incontinency - unable to contain or retain; lacking in self control 
2. Sullies - stains 
3. Liege - a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service

Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him, that he is young
And with a larger tether may he walk

3 words
1. incontinency- involuntary urination or defecation.
2. moiety- each of two parts into which a thing is or can be divided.
2. bawd- a woman in charge of a brothel.

3 quotes and questions
1. Quote: "And with a look so piteous in purport / As if he had been loosed out of hell / To speak of horrors, he comes before me."
    Question: Why did Hamlet do this? Was he still scared by his father, or pretending to be insane, or mad because of Ophelia?
2. Quote: "As 'Well, we know', or 'There be and if they might,' / Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be and if they might,"
    Question: This is when Hamlet talks to Marcellus and Horatio after talking to his father. What does he mean by this sentence?
3. Quote: "O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power / So to seduce! -won to his shameful lust / The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen."
   Question: Was Gertrude in on Claudius' plan to kill her husband, or was she just seduced later? Why was she so quick to marry?

Also, I thought you might find this interesting:

Wednesday HW:
“But look, the morn in russet mantle clad walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill” (I,i)
Russet-reddish brown color
“With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage” (I, i)
            dirge-a lament for death
“It is most retrograde to our desire, and we beseech you” (I,ii)
            retrograde-moving backward
1.     What is the King talking about at the dinner party?
2.     Why does Hamlet want to dispatch to Norway/Denmark?
3.     What happened to Hamlet’s father?
Thursday HW:
“Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!” (I,v)
            perturbed-to disturb
“O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!” (II, i)
            affrighted-great fear
“But beshrew my jealousy” (II, i)
1.     what is Polonius asking of Reynaldo to do on behalf of Laertes?
2.     What was Hamlet doing exactly when he shook Ophelia violently and harshly?

I understand that they want to ask king Hamlet, the ghost questions, but why were they so curious about the ghost instead acting scared and run for help?
Does this quote mean that the people chose the wrong king? Who is the king? And what is the king a good king?
Why is he calling his dad a villain? Wasn’t king Hamlet a good king?
assail (36) v.- to attack
Usurp (54) v. to seize; to confiscate
avouch (67)v. to certify; to confirm; to guarantee

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

IN CLASS Wednesday - and HWK

You will watch the next 35 minutes (starting at minute 40) of Hamlet. Click here.
Please follow along in your book.

For homework, re-read or re-watch the play; in order to email me the following before next class (Thursday/Friday):

Email me - 3 specific quotes: Click here for full-text that is searchable.
                    And 3 questions that relate to those 3 quotes (So one quote and one question times 3).
Plus the definition of 3 words that you do not know - use the OED online at school.

Monday, November 11, 2013

For D-Block: Tuesday's HWK

For D-BLOCK, Homework: Watch Act I (approx. first 40 minutes).

(E block, since we don't meet today, your homework will be a little different for Wednesday - talk Tuesday.) 

FYI - Most days, we will flip the classroom; you will watch the play at home with your book open. 
Then in class, we will play with the play - acting out lines you've already watched. 
Then, we will analyze it in class. 

Be warned: you might have quick quizzes to see if you've watched the play - do your homework!

And if you missed it at EA - you missed a great show!

Memorize: To be, or not to be

HAMLET: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Here's inspiration by some of the best actors delivering these very lines:

Here's two great scenes from The King's Speech

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why Memorize?

Go a head and Google "Is the internet making us dumber?" or "Is technology making us stupid?"

What did you find? Where do you stand on this debate?

While we can learn anything and everything, what do we remember from the hours we spend on the internet? 

Recently, you memorized a sonnet. A difficult task if one tries to remember 14 consecutive lines on a page, especially if it doesn't rhyme. Now you understand why poems would often rhyme.

From David Gilbert's novel & Sons

I remember with dread memorizing "To be or not to be..." from Hamlet my junior year in high school, but that was it. My education did not require much memorization. And I'd argue that I wish it did.

Shakespeare still echoes in my head every time I teach Hamlet, but I feel less than when colleagues would launch into soliloquies from memory. Frankly, many of these colleagues that I have in mind are much older and that was part of their education from a young age - rote memorization. Yet one colleague in his sixties, when he was around my age, dedicated himself to memorizing beloved poems, and he now has almost a hundred committed to memory - so it's never too late. He inspires me to memorize poems like my grandfather could - fond memories of him reciting to my brothers and me.

There's something to be said for the power of ownership in memorizing a poem.

Who knows when those words will arise later in life? Heaney once commented that a few memorized lines of poetry may save your life someday (I will find that interview - so I can quote it directly).

A book that has changed my mindset about memory and learning, one that I wish I had read as student, has been Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. So often we think in terms of a fixed mindset, that we forget the power of a growth mindset. And that with practice and focus, anything is possible.

For an amazing example of a growth mindset, checkout:

Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do

Yet who said?

“Never memorize something that you can look up.”