Response to Hamlet and Visual Essay

“The Readiness Is All “

Read all parts of your assignment carefully and record your responses in the appropriate places.

1. In a response of a few paragraphs, discuss one of the following three topics. Read the discussion of each topic carefully before deciding which to write on. In your response, be sure to include direct references to the play itself.

  • The “graveyard scene” in Hamlet (Act 5, Scene 1) is one of the most famous scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays. Reread this scene carefully and listen to it on the English Language Arts 30-1 Audio CD (Hamlet 2). As you read, note that the scene can really be divided into two parts; the first consists principally of Hamlet’s conversation with the gravediggers and Horatio while the second begins when the funeral procession enters the stage.

Pick one of these two parts of the graveyard scene and explain what—and how—it contributes to the audience’s understanding of Hamlet’s character. In your response, be specific; comment on things that Hamlet says and does and indicate what the audience learns from them.


  • Throughout your study of Hamlet, you’ve thought about how Shakespeare uses character foils to reveal things about his characters’ personalities. In the last part of Lesson 87, you took one final look at the use of foils in Hamlet, focusing in particular on how Horatio, Fortinbras, and Laertes contrast with Hamlet.

Select either Fortinbras or Laertes and show how Shakespeare uses your chosen character as a foil to highlight qualities, both positive and negative, in Prince Hamlet. Refer to specific speeches and actions to illustrate how Hamlet and your chosen character contrast; be sure, as well, to show what the contrasts reveal about Hamlet.

You might plan your response with a chart like the one comparing Hamlet, Horatio, Laertes, and Fortinbras in Lesson 87; but you should include more specifics in your own chart. Whether or not you choose this method for planning, your final product should be a written response of several paragraphs.


  • Something else you’ve looked at throughout your study of Hamlet is the use of recurring motifs in the play—particularly the motif of corruption and that of appearance and reality. These motifs were reviewed in Lesson 87.

Select one of these two motifs and show how Shakespeare uses it to reinforce some of the fundamental themes or ideas in Hamlet. Be sure to be specific; point out instances where the motif recurs and explain how each instance contributes to the play.

Assessment Criteria (15 marks)
Thought and Support
  The ideas are thoughtful and clear.3 marks
  The response shows an understanding of the topic and the play.3 marks
  Supporting details are appropriate and relevant.3 marks
  The language used is correct and effective.2 marks
  The response is well organized.2 marks


  The writing has been edited to eliminate errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation.2 marks

2. Hamlet is a play that deals with some of the fundamental issues confronting human beings. These include things like

  • human mortality—facing up to the reality of death
  • suicide
  • the conflict between appearance and reality—the fact that things may not be as they seem
  • deception and betrayal
  • the workings of conscience and the felt need to do one’s duty
  • corruption, decay, and rot
  • the conflict between the need to act and the necessity of being sure that one is right
  • the very meaning (or meaninglessness?) of human existence

Your assignment is to select one of these issues (or another issue that you see arising from Hamlet) and to create a visual (or graphic) essay that expresses some of your thoughts on your chosen issue. A graphic essay is much like the photo essays you looked at earlier in the course, the chief difference being that rather than limiting yourself to photographs, you can use any form of visuals you choose—for example, drawings, photographs, collages, or computer-generated graphics. In other words, your work here will be essentially visual rather than written, though there will be some written components as well.

To create your graphic essay, follow the steps outlined here. Be sure to read them all through before you begin work.

  • Create a focus for your essay by selecting an issue (see the preceding list). Then give your essay a title.
  • Formulate a thesis statement that expresses what you want to say about your issue. Your thesis needn’t be profound, but it should make a point about human experience.

For example, your thesis might be, “Thinking too hard and worrying too much can destroy a person’s ability to take decisive action when it is needed.” Or it might be, “When people have lost faith in those closest to them, they may do things that have devastating consequences.”

  • Select five quotations from Hamlet that you think are significant in developing your thesis. Write out the quotations and, in a paragraph of two or three sentences for each one, explain its context and relevance to the play.
  • Create a visual of some sort to support each of your quotations. You can stick closely to the events in Hamlet if you choose, or you can illustrate with your visuals how the quotations might apply to other situations in life.
  • Organize the components of your essay logically and attractively. These will include
    • title
    • thesis statement
    • five quotations with explanatory paragraphs
    • five visuals

You can use the pages that follow for your graphic essay or use other paper of your own.

Assessment Criteria (20 marks)

  The thesis statement is properly constructed and focused on one idea.2 marks
  The thesis is thoughtful and clearly related to an important issue or idea in Hamlet.2 marks
  The quotations are thoughtfully selected and related to the topic.2 marks
  The context and relevance of each quotation is clearly and accurately presented.2 marks
  The visuals are relevant to the quotations.2 marks
  The visuals enhance the quotations from the play.2 marks
  Together, the visuals develop the thesis of the essay.2 marks
Response to Hamlet and Visual Essay
Overall Impression
  The essay is well organized and attractively presented.2 marks
  The essay is coherent and develops the ideas expressed in the thesis statement.2 marks
  The essay shows an understanding of Hamlet while developing ideas that arise from the play.2 marks

Response to Hamlet and Visual Essay