Archive for the ‘Poetry and Shakespeare’ Category

BanksyTypes of poetry notes can be found here:Types of Poetry 2018 and the identification examples we did can be found here: Poetry Identification Practice (2)

We’ll be doing oodles of awesome poetry the next few weeks, so you’re not going to want to miss class, but in case you do, check the Google calendar.  Any of the poems we read could be found pretty easily with a web search.

Tackling the sonnet, which we will do on Oct. 4&5 is here: Tackling the Sonnet.

The figurative language in poetry and narrative poetry assignments for Oct. 8&9 are here: Poetry Assignments 411-416.  And don’t forget about Whitman and Hughes

Oct. 12-16 we will try Understanding Tone through art  (Understanding Tone through art worksheet) and Tackling the AP Poetry prompt.

Stay tuned for more!


“thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (III.i.91)

In class we’ve been talking about sound devices 2018 that you need to apply on the assignment Song annotation and translating early modern English which needs to be done in your notebook by 9/17.  There will be a sound device quiz on Sep. 12th, too.  On Tuesday, September 11th we’ll annotate Hamlet’s first soliloquy in class AP English 12 Hamlet Act I Soliloquy Assignment  which should also be kept in your notebook.  (Check yourself: Act I Soliloquy scansion for correct scansion).

The source play for Hamlet was originally a revenge tragedy in which the son (Hamlet, Jr.) had to avenge his murdered father, but the challenge in getting to the king was this big ol’ bodyguard.  Shakespeare replaced the character of the bodyguard with a much more effective form of a bodyguard: conscience.  So why is this important?  It establishes the play as one focused more on contemplating human psychology than one focused on plot and action.  In fact, it’s often seen as a play of inaction.  Knowing this should help us identify some of the subjects and motifs of the play, such as:

  • The relationship between thought and action
    • Appearance vs. reality — spying and deception — Mirrors / glass / reflection / foils 
  • Corruption — gardens / weeds / rot / poison / misogyny
    • Incest . . . talk about “things rank and gross in nature” (legal incest, not literal . . . remember, they had very different ideas about biology)
  • The nature of our existence and of death — religion / cosmos / fate
  • Madness (true or feigned)
  • Duty: personal vs. moral vs. national . . . and, of course, the ethics of revenge

    things rank and gross posses it merely


Secondly, if you think about the historical context of the play, there’s some really interesting stuff going on.  We (well, we the audience, so England) have a female monarch, we just finished bloody conflicts over Catholicism vs.  Protestantism (Thanks a lot Henry VIII! :)) and sticking with Catholic iconography and practice at the time the play was performed could have dire consequences.

In the 100 years prior to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, (a blink of an eye in history) we’ve realized the Earth revolves around the sun, the Earth is round, the Earth is twice the size we thought, and then there’s Luther posting his 95 Theses on the door of  . . . wait for it . . .  wait for it . . . WITTENBERG Castle Church! (Wait, isn’t Wittenberg where Hamlet goes to college?  Yep, nailed it!  #sopunny #onebusycentury).