Exploring Literature Through Hamlet

Saturday, March 18, 2023 - By: Neve M, Hope '23; Photo by Jim Ganley

AP Literature 12 is a demanding course that requires complex analysis and comprehension of many classic works. Although the course is filled with significance and intrigue, it is the works studied that enrich the class. Studying Shakespeare's famous tragedy, Hamlet, is a hallmark of any AP Literature 12 course. It is no surprise then that for the past month, Mr Ganley's AP Lit 12 class has been vigorously studying Hamlet in preparation for the AP Exam in May.

Hamlet is one of the many units covered in Mr Ganley's class. Students have examined plays, poems, and essays. Death of A Salesman, a play by Arthur Miller, was one of the first units covered. Throughout this study, students investigated the script, the characters, and the play itself. The analysis of the play's symbols and literary devices was also explored.

Hamlet, however, is unique from the other units. It is William Shakespeare's longest play and widely recognized as one of the most powerful plays in English literature. It encompasses the theme of revenge but ties in numerous significant themes, such as madness and betrayal. The reasons to study Hamlet are numerous. Mr Ganley, teacher of AP Lit, expressed that "There are lots of reasons to study Hamlet. It is a cornerstone of Western literature. Its themes of responsibility and leadership remain timely, and it's a really flexible text for the free-response question number three on the AP exam."

Throughout the study of Hamlet in class, the students had a lengthy list of assignments and discussions upon the play. Many short paragraphs were written discussing characters and scenes, as well as presentations analyzing lines and the script. Most recently, a practice free-response question was written in class. This short essay aimed to analyze the theme of eccentric and delusional behavior in the play, focusing on how it relates to the work as a whole. With a comprehensive understanding of Hamlet, this task was extremely successful.

Students were enthralled by Hamlet, and it is hard not to be when the plot is so intriguing and exciting. "This was one of the first English literature works that I genuinely enjoyed and was interested in studying. The plot was full of twists, and I loved the characters' complexities," mentioned Conor P, Whittall '23.

Overall, Hamlet was an exceptional unit that not only enriched the class but also proved to be outstanding preparation for the upcoming AP exam in May.

Neve M, Hope '23

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