At the beginning of the play there is always an element of discord.
Act Two and Beyond Hamlet - A Comprehensive Analysis of Shakespeare's Greatest Tragedy This project is dedicated to the legacy of William Shakespeare, the most versatile mind the world has ever produced, and to those people who want to take the time and the effort to meaningfully read his greatest work, Hamlet.
Although I left the classroom in June of after a teaching career of 30 years, this project has its genesis in something I suspect many retired teachers experience: In the dream, as in real life, I tell my students that I left it to the end because otherwise I would have spent far too long on it throughout the semester.
The problems I confront in the nightmare are: Until recently, I viewed this recurring nocturnal experience as simply a form of anxiety dream, its particulars no doubt attributable to the crucible of the classroom that was my life for so long. Then another interpretation occurred to me. I made this decision for two reasons: Rest assured, however, that when there is special language significance, I do address it.
That I leave to the increasingly imaginative and energetic ranks of new instructors. It is, however, based on two components that I think are essential in any teaching situation: Just as in my dream, in the classroom there is never enough time to do complete justice to a great piece of literature, so one has to compromise and make the best choices possible.
Therefore, while this work will render as complete an analysis and commentary that I am capable of, I do expect that teachers will make their own choices as to what to emphasize. Additionally, teachers will find this commentary easily adaptable for students who may be away due to protracted illnesses, family vacations, etc.
But my other intended audience is anyone who wants to read the play and engage with the issues, themes, language and characters that Shakespeare so wonderfully develops.
Speaking of which …. There really is no substitute for a close and careful reading of the play. My suggestion is that you read a scene slowly, making full use of the sidenotes or endnotes, and then read it a second time, supplemented by my commentary.
My intention here is not to produce another version of Cliff or Coles Notes, with its typical breakdown into plot, character, themes, imagery, etc.
There will, of course, be additional notes at the end of scenes and acts, either to reinforce points made within the commentary, or to provide a broader view of issues that have arisen throughout the act. Just one final note before I embark on what I anticipate will be a long journey: I make no claim to any special insights or degree of scholarship in what I am offering here.
What I learned over the years in teaching Hamlet came from extensive reading, extensive reflection, and the dynamic exchange of ideas with my students. So my gratitude rests with those students, the myriad scholars and critics of the play, and to Shakespeare himself who, in Hamlet, created the most fully-realized human being that I have ever encountered in literature.Unique features include an extensive overview of Shakespeare's life, world, and theater by the general editor of Signet Classic Shakespeare series, plus a special introduction to the play by the editor Sylvan Barnet, Tufts University.
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