Hamlet Conundrums
Class Paper Assignment
Due November 21st

You are asked to write a paper in two parts. Please keep in mind that you are not just answering questions but also composing an essay.

Part 1) Needless to say, there are numerous understandings of what happens in Hamlet. Select one understanding that may reflect your own thinking or an interpretation that you have studied in this course or elsewhere. As a criterion for your selection, it should be an interpretation that, if staged, would result in a production that is both meaningful and engaging. It should also reflect a sense of what happens in the entire play. Briefly explain (in a couple pages) why this interpretation should be significant to a contemporary audience, and how it is expressed in the text of the play (this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to set play in a contemporary setting!) Also, make sure that you relate this concept to any relevant information in the course readings or the class web site. It is important that you settle on a concept before selecting a scene in part 2 of this assignment to insure that you are looking at the play as a whole and that your concept has relevance throughout the play. Also, forming a thesis will help concentrate the focus and continuity of your paper.

Part 2) Then, pick a scene from the play that could serve to demonstrate the viability of your interpretation. Describe in detail how you would direct that scene in a way that communicates your interpretation to an audience (and makes it felt by them). Your job is not to alter the text of the play, but to describe in your own words how you would put it on the stage. It may be helpful to think of this presentation as if it were a proposal for a production of Hamlet that you would like to create. If needed, you may supplement your written paper with illustrations that help convey aspects of the staging of the scene, but concentrate on what you see as the purpose of the scene; its structure, its language (the images and metaphors and rhythms it uses, etc.) and its meaning in the context of the entire drama, and on how you will make those values visible. Please feel encouraged to include details of performance qualities, stage directions, set design, colors, sounds, textures, effects, etc. Be creative!

Recommended paper length: 8 pages or greater.

Make a decision about what scene you will pick to stage (in theory), and let Professor Bierman know what you have chosen. You can communicate your choice by e-mail or (preferably) by discussing your choice with him in person.