Hamlet Prep for the Compare and Contrast Essay
Step 1: • Choosing a “big idea” and creating a theme statement
Theme Statement • A successful theme statement must be general enough to capture the overall meaning of the work, but specific enough so that it conveys your unique interpretation. • In a sense, every literary work makes a statement or has a point. When you create a theme statement, you're substituting a single sentence for the entire piece of writing. • You may have to simplify the meaning somewhat to get it into a single sentence, but nevertheless, your theme statement itself should make a point.
The theme statement should describe the general meaning of the work, not the specific events, actions, or characters. • “Luke defeats Darth Vader" is plot summary. • Instead of describing what the characters do, discuss what they represent ("Good defeats evil"). This can be a first step toward making your theme statement. • Often the theme statement takes the form of a moral or a judgment. Ex."Wecannot defeat an external evil until we acknowledge our own dark side."
Which is a theme statement? • Love. • Mrs. Farquar learns that British people can't dance. • It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Creating a Theme Statement in 3 Steps • 1) Select an important TOPIC included in the writing. (Topic ideas include: freedom, love, trust, death, forgiveness…) • Ex. Hamlet includes: being true to oneself, incest, manipulating others, putting on a “false face”, action vs inaction, getting what you deserve…
Creating a Theme Statement in 3 Steps • 2) Begin the theme statement by listing the name of the play, and author. • Ex. “The play Hamletby William Shakespeare…”
Creating a Theme Statement in 3 Steps • 3) Now finish the statement by adding what the author REVEALS about the topic. • Ex. “The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is about __________, and reveals that _______________.” • You may use an image (unweeded garden, wounds/disease/garbage) as a “big idea”. In this case your theme statement might look like this: • “The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, uses the image of __________, to reveal that _______________.”
Remember your task • You must explain how 2, or more, characters contribute to a “big idea”/theme in the play. • If your theme statement= “The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is about lies and reveals that not being truthful only causes misery.” • Choose 2 (or more) characters who show this. Claudius, Polonius, Hamlet… • If your theme statement= “The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, uses the image of weeds, to reveal that lies can take over our lives if we let them.” • Choose 2 (or more) characters who show this. Claudius, Polonius, Hamlet…
Creating your Thesis Statement • To have a minimally acceptable thesis, you need to at least indicate the characters and that there will be some sort of a comparison and a contrast. (Then just make sure you discuss the impact on theme in the body paragraphs.) • “The characters of Hamlet and Claudius can be compared and contrasted.” (perhaps this essay will argue in body paragraph #1 that Hamlet and Claudius are both manipulative, in body paragraph #2 the essay will show how they do this this in different ways) • “While Hamlet and Leartesboth have problems, they have their differences in how they deal with them.” • (perhaps this essay will discuss in body paragraph #1 that Hamlet and Leartes have similar problems, body paragraph #2 may indicate how they deal with the problems in different ways.)
Creating a more sophisticated thesis statement • Once you have your theme statement and characters to be used, you can put them together in a thesis statement. • *Remember that you will compare and contrast, so mention this in your thesis • “The characters of Claudius and Hamlet in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare reveal that not being truthful only causes misery, though these characters are impacted by these lies in different ways.” • This thesis says clearly who will be discussed, what the theme is, and that there will be a comparison (both are miserable due to lies), and a contrast (the impact of the lies is different).
Option 1= Compare and contrast in each body paragraph • Example thesis statement: • "There are similarities and differences between how the old and young characters in Hamlet are motivated, are able to act on their thoughts, and contribute to the big idea of using others." • This lends itself perfectly to a 5 paragraph piece (though you could do a 4 paragraph essay using this model too by removing one of the points in the thesis.)
"There are similarities and differences between how the old and young characters in Hamlet are motivated, are able to act on their thoughts, and contribute to the big idea of using others." • In this case, you will write one paragraph describing the motivations of both the young and old characters, one paragraph on each of their ability to act, and one paragraph describing each of their impact on theme. • Introduction: build up and thesis • Body Paragraph 1: Discuss first idea- motivations. • -similarities • -differences • Body Paragraph 2: Discuss second idea- ability to act. • -similarities • -differences • Body Paragraph 3: Discuss third idea- using others. • -similarities • -differences • Conclusion: restate thesis and “end broad”
Option 2= talk about similarities in one paragraph, and the differences in another. • Example thesis statement: • "In the play Hamlet, the old and young characters have both similarities and differences in how they impact theme." • In this case, you will write one paragraph describing the similarities and one paragraph describing the differences.
"In the play Hamlet, the old and young characters have both similarities and differences in how they impact theme." • Introduction: build up and thesis • Body Paragraph 1: Similarities • Body Paragraph 2: Differences • Conclusion: restate thesis and “end broad”
English 12 • Hamlet Compare and Contrast Essay Checklist • Teacher Assessment