In order to keep their course blog uncluttered, I am writing here for some of my students–those who want to see a model of their weekly assignment. They are publishing regular posts on their blogs. In each post, they reflect on our two essential questions (EQs)* through the lens of The Tempest. I will use the same questions, but write through the lens of Hamlet, so as not to steal their thunder. Whenever I can, I do writings like this so that I can a) show students that I enjoy writing b) give them a sense of what I am asking them to do and c) engender trust by demonstrating that I understand the assignment from the inside. Students are more likely to enjoy and learn from assignments if they a) enjoy them b) understand the instructions and c) trust that the teacher is assigning something other than busy work. Below are the two essential questions and my first installment. For those playing at home, the students’ first post is based on The Tempest up to Act One Scene Two, line 321 (1.2.321).
*EQs: What behaviors and beliefs cause strife and grief? What are the roots of forgiveness?
One of my favorite scenes in Hamlet is the recorder scene. Two “friends” have repeatedly tried to disguise their efforts at finding out what’s wrong with Hamlet. More often than not they do this because someone else, usually King Claudius, has asked them to. Since they are being sent on an errand, they pretend to be friendly to Hamlet, but the young prince is no dummy. He sees through their ruse. When one of these alleged friends, Guildenstern, finds Hamlet after the players have performed “The Mousetrap,” Hamlet asks him to play the recorder, knowing well that Guildenstern cannot. Hamlet uses this uncomfortable moment to blast his “friend” for thinking he can play Hamlet. Hamlet is incensed. Why? Because Guildenstern believes he can play Hamlet more easily than he can play the simple recorder. So, the strife comes from the friend’s belief that he can completely control the other man. The strife also comes from the deceitful behavior. Guildenstern presents himself as genuinely interested in Hamlet’s welfare. When pressed, though, he admits that he is being sent and rather than coming on his own initiative. Hamlet feels betrayed and lied to. His anger has roots in these feelings. The actions of his “friend” have broken trust between them.
photo credit: http://www.colourbox.com/preview/3033176-117823-broken-chain.jpg