For this assignment, analyze Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy beginning at 3.1.57 and ending at 3.1.89. Explain as fully and clearly as you can the events and circumstances he’s reacting to, as well as what his words mean.
There are two parts to your assignment:
Part 1: Paraphrase it. That means “translate” what he says into your own words (not No Fear Shakespeare’s words or anybody else’s). Make sure you capture anything and everything he may be implying or suggesting. Don’t just include what he says, tell us as much as you can about what is implied, what’s between the lines, where he’s coming from, etc. Don’t assume that what seems obvious to you is obvious to your readers. When in doubt, spell it out.
Part 2: Analyze it. Explain why what he says is important for us to understand him as a character, and how it gives us insight into his reaction to what has already happened, and how it helps us to understand his actions as the play develops.
Some things to think about as you analyze it: What prompts him to launch into this speech? What has been happening to him, and how is he reacting to it? What is his mental and emotional state, and why is he thinking and feeling that way? What issues is he trying to work out? What ideas is he speculating on? What do we learn about his outlook, his fears, his personality? How does what he says here give us insight into his motives in events in the play that come after this speech?
Give us as good a character sketch of Hamlet as you can, using this soliloquy as a guide to his mindset and actions. Feel free to psychoanalyze the melancholy young Dane, but back up what you say with evidence from the text. The better you explain what he means, why he’s feeling the way he does, and how it all relates to what happens in the play, the better your grade will be. As always, use short but effective quotations from the text to point to significant words and events, but focus mainly on your explanations of what we learn from his words mean and actions. To cite the text, place Act, Scene, and Line numbers in parentheses at the end of your quotation. Example: “Your quotation here” (1.3.5).
Note: If you make an honest effort to tell me in your own words what the most important things to know about this character and this play are, in at least five hundred words (~two pages), you will probably get most of the points available.
This Assignment is worth 90 points.
Late papers not accepted. Don’t let that be you.
2 pages (500 words) minimum
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