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ERIC Number: EJ856316
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
Where to Be or Not to Be: The Question of Place in "Hamlet"
Golden, John
English Journal, v99 n1 p58-64 Sep 2009
The author does not really like "Hamlet." He loves the play, the language, and the characters, but always finds it difficult to teach. Part of this is because he prefers to assign students scenes to perform as they read a Shakespeare text, but Hamlet does not divide nicely into manageable scenes, and he usually does not have enough teenage Ken Branaghs for each group to take on Hamlet's thousands of lines. But there is this magical moment at the beginning of act 3, when Hamlet says, "To be or not to be... that is the question." The author loves the excitement that this speech can bring to an audience, and he exploits it in his classroom as a way to dive deep into the themes of the play through these 33 lines. His main approach is to examine the choices that the actors and directors of the multiple film versions of Hamlet make during this scene. By analyzing and comparing these choices, students come not only to a better understanding of the play but also to a clearer sense of how specific choices affect the ways that we understand a text. While most of the activities that he describes in this article focus on the one speech from act 3 of "Hamlet," they are applicable to the study of any Shakespeare play. (Contains 3 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A