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Hamlet. Critical Essay Technique. Highlight the Question’s Key Words. By the end of Act One, for what reasons do the audience sympathise with Hamlet?. Highlight the Question’s Key Words. By the end of Act One , for what reasons do the audience sympathise with Hamlet ?. Plan.

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Critical Essay Technique

highlight the question s key words
Highlight the Question’s Key Words
  • By the end of Act One, for what reasons do the audience sympathise with Hamlet?
highlight the question s key words1
Highlight the Question’s Key Words
  • By the end of Act One, for what reasons do the audience sympathise with Hamlet?
  • Create a mind-map detailing the key points you will cover in your essay.
  • Add at least two relevant quotations to each point.
  • Number your points to give your essay a logical structure
topic sentences
Topic Sentences
  • Clearly introduce your paragraph’s topic
  • Should contain linkage to previous paragraph
  • Some should link to your task
  • Should demonstrate the logical development of your argument
topic sentences1
Topic Sentences
  • Although he does not appear on stage during the opening scene, Shakespeare’s depiction of disorder in Elsinore helps create sympathy for Hamlet.
  • The audience’s sympathy for Hamlet deepens when the true extent of his misery is revealed in his first soliloquy.
  • Respond to the task without simply repeating it
  • Brief outline of what your argument will be
  • Do not include ‘In this essay, I will discuss . . .’
  • Do not include a list of techniques

In Act One of ‘Hamlet’, William Shakespeare depicts his tragic hero as tormented by both internal and external conflicts. His spiritual sickness and misery mirror the corruption caused in Denmark by Claudius’ illegitimate rule. The sympathy the audience feel for Hamlet is compounded by his isolation, his mother’s incestuous marriage to Claudius and the impossible position he is put in by the Ghost.

paragraph structure
Paragraph Structure
  • Point / Topic sentence
  • Brief expansion/ explanation (not retelling large chunks of the plot)
  • Evidence (Quotations/ dialogue or stage directions)
  • Analysis (Including identification of techniques used by Shakespeare where appropriate)
  • Evaluation (Giving your personal response/ saying how effective Shakespeare has been)
  • At least two per paragraph.
  • Lots of short, embedded quotations.
  • Some longer quotations but not too many.
embedded quotations
Embedded Quotations
  • Less than two lines.
  • Form part of a sentence
  • In Hamlet’s first soliloquy, Shakespeare reveals that his tragic hero worships his recently deceased father. He compares him to ‘Hyperion’- the Titan god of light. He also reflects on the corruption in the ‘unweeded garden’ that Denmark has become under Claudius’ rule.
longer quotations
Longer Quotations
  • For quotations of two lines or more.
  • Colon to introduce quotation.
  • Take a new line.
  • Use quotation marks.
  • Write out the quotation exactly as it is in the play, including where the lines start.
  • Include analysis and evaluation after your quotation, explaining the importance of your quotation to the point you are making and discussing the effectiveness of any relevant techniques.

This conflict is exacerbated by his uncertainty over the Ghost’s identity:

“Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,

Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,

Be thy intents wicked or charitable,” (Act One, Scene Five)

Shakespeare uses antithesis here to highlight the ambiguous nature of the Ghost: Hamlet is unsure if it really is his father’s spirit and not an evil spirit instead. This relates to one of the play’s most important themes: the difficulty in distinguishing between reality and appearances.

  • Keep it brief
  • Respond to your task
  • Reiterate your essay’s main points
  • Themes are the ideas presented by a text
  • Theme is not a technique
  • Techniques such as plot, characterisation and setting are used to convey the play’s theme.
  • Most plays will have several themes
  • Even if your question does not explicitly ask you to, you should discuss the text’s themes.
themes in hamlet act one
Themes in Hamlet Act One
  • The Impossibility of Certainty /The difficulty in distinguishing between reality and appearances.
  • The connection between the legitimacy of a ruler and the health of the society they rule.
  • The moral legitimacy of suicide in a world of suffering
  • The nature of revenge
  • Choose one theme which you feel is most important in Hamlet Act One.
  • On your mind-map, make a note of where this is relevant.