Thursday, April 24, 2014


The SOLILOQUY was a very convenient device in the drama for allowing the audience, in the least possible time, to follow the inmost thought and purpose of a character. It was in constant use down to very recent times. Moreover, it is a fact and common practice that people do talk to themselves under stress of thought or emotion, usually in very short sentences, but nevertheless considerably self-explanatory. It was therefore legitimately based on human experience. Modern audiences will have none of it, however, except perhaps, as a series of swear words. The reason perhaps is that it seems too highly artificial to the majority who have not seen the phenomenon, and if they did see it, would consider it as a species of insanity. Their objection, too, is based on the 'realistic' conception of the theatre prevalent since 1900 and owing much of its spread to one David Belasco of New York, who tried to have everything 'real' on his sets, thereby ruining the plays, the actors and particularly the imaginations of his audiences. There can be no 'realism' about the theatre. It is all make believe, a fancy, a dream. The only realism it can have is the reality of illusion it creates in the imagination of the audiences.

SOLILOQUIES were useful for letting the audience know what was going on elsewhere or what some other character intended. They were sometimes long, as Hamlet's were, and, of course, modern audiences will not tolerate long speeches except under very unusual circumstances.


  1. Act 1, Sc. 2, line 129
  2. Act 1, Sc. 5, line 92
  3. Act 11, Sc. 2, line 576
  4. Act 111, Sc. 1, line 56--'To be or not to be...'
  5. Act 111, Sc. 2, line 406
  6. Act 111, Sc. 3, line 73
  7. Act 1V, Sc. 4, line 32.


...a brief soliloquy while other characters were on the stage and not supposed to be heard by them. It served the same purpose as the soliloquy--to give the audience an idea of what was going on, or of the character's personal opinions. Asides are common enough in any assemblage today, but a curse to a theatre audience, because the actors have to speak so loudly for the audience to be able to hear, that it seems absurd to assume that those who are so much closer on stage have not heard. Also the modern audience takes the aside as an insult; it would rather judge action, personalities and issues itself. There is only one Aside in Hamlet--Laertes' speech (Act V, Sc.2, line 306).


  • Shakespeare's immediate source for Hamlet was a lost play, probably by Thomas Kyd, known as the Ur-Hamlet.
  • At the end of the sixteenth century, when Hamlet was written, England was a country undergoing change, a country where the old assumptions no longer applied.
  • The Hamlet story dealt with a country in turmoil after a change of monarch, and the contrasts in Shakespeare's play between the Elder Hamlet and Claudius have obvious relevance to contemporary issues of the sort.
  • There were intellectual changes. The old medieval order was passing away. The new age of scientific thought and rational inquiry was beginning. Galileo and Descartes were on the horizon. 
  • Hamlet himself was an intellectual trying to make sense of the world--the confused end of one era and the painful birth of another.
  • Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's most complex and intriguing characters. He is a man of contradictions, who undergoes a remarkable change during the course of the play. Whatever his character was before the play begins, we understand that he changes when faced with the moral shock at the beginning of the play.
  • The central theme of Hamlet is REVENGE and Hamlet is the REVENGER.
  • 'To be or not to be...' is a fine instance of a Hamlet beset with doubts and faced with choices.
  • Hamlet chooses madness as a disguise--madness becomes a reaction to, and an escape from, the world around him, as it does for Ophelia, who is unable to cope with the results of the chain of circumstances in which she is wrapped.
  • Death is a major concern of Hamlet and it reverberates through the play. 
  • There is a great deal of imagery in Hamlet--cosmetics to cover up. An emblem both of the human attempt to avoid the approach of physical decay and the tendency to cover things up. Ulcers provide a striking picture of how the corruption within the Danish court is superficially concealed.
  • The imagery of the play is dominated by the idea of disease--decay, rotting, infection and corruption are common. Hamlet sees his country as a vast garden gone to seed.
  • Keywords in the play are mostly to do with disguise--Apparition, seems, seeming, assume, habits, put on, shape, play, act, show. 
  • Hamlet changes a great deal through the play. To demonstrate this, his language alters markedly, indicating his shifts of mood. He employs many puns, appropriate in a world where nothing is what it seems. He is fond of questions and bitter riddles.


After reading the play, Hamlet, answer the following questions.

  1. Why does Hamlet delay in carrying out the Ghost's instructions?
  2. Do you agree with Ophelia's comment about Hamlet in Act Three, Scene 1 - 'O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown'?
  3. Why do you think that Hamlet has always been one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays on the stage?
  4. What is your view of the Ghost?
  5. How far do you sympathise with Ophelia?
  6. What do we learn about Hamlet from his soliloquies?
  7. '...So shall you hear/Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts,/Of accidental judgements, casual slaughters,/And, in this upshot, purposes mistook/Fall'n on the inventors' heads.'                                                                       How far do you find Horatio's words a fair summary of the play?
  8. Does Polonius deserve his death?
  9. What changes do you notice in Hamlet after his return from England?'
  10. What have you learnt from Hamlet, as a result of your experience of the play?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


        Develop a Weekly Schedule
       to provide an overview of free and committed time
        Write a Daily To-Do List
       to provide daily reminders to assure key tasks are not forgotten
        Prepare a Long-Term Plan
       to promote overall organization and future planning

        Use a weekly schedule template, a student agenda, or a computer program to:
       Organize your regular activities
       Determine your available free time
       Look at hours spent on extra-curricular activities
       See how much time you study
       Know how and where you tend to waste time

        Fill in the weekly schedule in this sequence:
       Personal Maintenance (i.e. eating, sleeping, getting ready, travel)
       Your classes
       Your work commitments
       Other Commitments (volunteer, extra-curricular etc.)

THEN fill in other OPTIONAL commitments

        Approx. 110 hours of time is consumed by personal maintenance and class time
        Work and other commitments may take up to another 14+ hours
        That leaves approximately 44 hours remaining - this is YOUR time to spend how you see fit!
        If you can’t figure out where that 44 hours goes every week, keep track of how you spend your time for the next 7 days – you’ll be amazed at how it gets used!
        No one expects that a student will use every minute of their free time to do work – but it seems reasonable that at least half of it will be devoted to academics (and even more at very busy times)



        It’s helpful to create a list with the following headings as a way to organize your time:

Wednesday, February 26

Task                                Time Req.       Importance                     Other Notes
Math homework               1 hour                  Important
Debating                            2 hours                  Very important        Drama Room
Science Quiz                      ½ hour                  Very important        Cell structures
Geography mapping        ½ hour                  Important                 Extra help from
English Task                       2 hours                 Very important         Mrs. Belford
        It’s even more effective to actually create a daily schedule and block out the time when events will happen
        It’s important to tick things off on your daily to-do list as you complete them – gives you a sense of accomplishment
        Try to put down a little more on your list than you think you can realistically accomplish
        Breaking down large projects into smaller tasks that you can accomplish in small chunks of time is one of the most effective TM strategies

        Use a monthly calendar
        Important to be able to look ahead by at least 4 weeks
        As soon as you are informed of deadlines for assignments, test dates etc. put them on the calendar so you can ensure that you’re able to do some long-range planning
        A very important step in preventing last minute cramming or rushed assignments

        While procrastinating may give immediate gratification because it delays working on an important (but sometimes undesirable) task, it also brings:
       Reduced sleep
       Lower grades
       Poorer quality of work
       Less learning as a result of being rushed
       A personal sense of disappointment
        In the end, it hurts you more than it helps you!

        At any one time, you may have 10 tasks that ideally you should be working on – it will be impossible to do them all!
        Setting priorities means making a value judgment on each task you need to complete based on it’s worth and when it must be completed
        In short:  the tasks that are worth the most and due the soonest should be your #1 priority!

        If you don’t know how much time a particular task should be taking up, here are some helpful suggestions:
       Ask your teacher for some guidance
       Speak to other successful students in the class
       Break the task down into various stages and consider an appropriate amount of time for each step
       Consider the value of and deadline for the task and weigh it against other priorities

        It’s important to prepare for the unexpected – things will always come up that you didn’t plan for…even after great planning!
        When your plan is thrown into chaos:
       List each necessary activity you need to complete
       Define time limits for each activity
       Set priorities within the list
       Tackle assignments in that order

        If you find that you have very few hours left in your day, week or month to relax, spend time with friends or family, or pursue your own interests, it’s time to re-evaluate your commitments!
        If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t fulfill any of the commitments in your life to your level of satisfaction
        Again, be sure to prioritize and don’t feel guilty if you need to drop an activity or two – your health and well-being is always your #1 priority!

        Time management is a skill that EVERYONE must work on in all areas of their life (personal, academic, work)
        Successful time management requires self-evaluation and the desire to improve
        Effective time management will require you to do things you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do them – you have to push yourself! 
        The pay-off of good time management is ALWAYS worth the effort

        Talk to your teachers about their suggestions in how to manage the workload in the class
        Let your parents, friends, coaches etc. know how you are feeling – their support is important
        Book an appointment with your counsellor in Student Services to actually practice some of the time management techniques
        If your mental or physical health is impeding your ability to manage your time effectively, see your family doctor


Macbeth: Questions to Consider

Act I
Scene i
1.     Why do you think Shakespeare begins this play with the witches?
2.         What does this scene tell you about the play that is to follow? What sort of play are you expecting? 

Scene ii:
1.     We have not seen Macbeth yet, but what impression do you have of him so far?

Scene iii:
1.      What in this scene could you describe as "foul"?
Macbeth’s thought on murdering kind Duncan to get his throne.
2.      What in this scene could you describe as "fair"?

3.      How do you think Macbeth feels at the end of this  scene?

4.                   And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths.
Banquo says this after the witches have been proved right- what advice do you think he is ?

Scene iv:
1.     Most of the speeches in this scene are very formal, but Macbeth's speech at the end is very different. Can you explain the difference in style?

Scene v:
1.      Lady Macbeth immediately calls for help from evil spirits. Why does she need their help?

2.   How much do you find out about the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in this scene?

Scene vi:
l. How does what you know about Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's plans affect the way you read this scene?

Scene vii:
1.     What is troubling Macbeth's conscience at this stage?
2.      How does Lady Macbeth put the pressure on? What do you think  is the argument which finally convinces Macbeth?\

Act 2:
Scene i:
1.      Banquo cannot sleep. Can you explain why he is so uneasy?
2.      After you have heard Macbeth's soliloquy, do you think  that Macbeth  will find it easy to murder Duncan?

Scene ii:
1.     Macbeth is a famous warrior and is used to killing people in battle. Why is he so frightened and distracted now?
2.      Are there any small signs that Lady Macbeth, although appearing so calm and in control, is troubled too?
3.   We do not see the murder. Would it have been more horrifying if we could see the murder on stage?  Would we have lost any of the horror that is in the scene as it is?

Scene iii:
1.   Why do you think Shakespeare included a humorous scene at this point in the play?
2.   Why are we told about the strange events during the night?
3.  Macbeth has to act as if he is shocked and appalled. How does he do this? Would you have been convinced by him?
4.   Is Lady Macbeth any more believable?
5.   How do you think the rest of the court will react  to Malcolm and Donalbain running away?

Scene iv:
1.   If you were Shakespeare and you had got this far, how would you continue the  play?
2.   Would it be a good play if it ended here?

Act 3
Scene i :
1.    How can you tell from the way he behaves in the first part of the scene that Macbeth is now king?
2.   Why is he so concerned to have Fleance killed?
3.      What tactic does he use to persuade his henchmen to murder Banquo?

Scene ii:
1.      Why is Macbeth feeling so uneasy now that he is king?
2.   Why does he not tell Lady Macbeth about his plans for Banquo?
3.   Recall any other mention of sleep and bad dreams in the play so far?

Scene iii:
1.   Why do you think Shakespeare brought in the third murderer?
2.   Why did Shakespeare have the light failing and going out?

Scene  iv:
1.   Why is this banquet so important to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?
2.   Why do you think Shakespeare decided to haunt Macbeth with the ghost of Banquo rather than the ghost of Duncan?
3.   How does Lady Macbeth react to (a) Macbeth? (b) the rest of the guests?
4.   What does this scene tell us about Macbeth's state of mind at this part in the play?

Scene vi:
1.   Why is Lennox so careful in the way he describes what has happened?

Act IV

Scene i :
1.     What do you think Macbeth expects to hear from.the Witches? Inwhat
ways is Macbeth encouraged by what he learns?
2.    What causes him to be fearful?
3.    How does Lennox's news fit in with the witches' predictions?

Scene ii:
1.   We have not met Lady Macduff before and yet we are horrified by her death. How much do we know about her by the time she dies?
2.   What makes the murder so horrible?

Scene iii:
1.   Why do you think Shakespeare gives so much time to a scene in which good and bad kings are discussed?
2.   How does Shakespeare make us feel Macduff s shock at hearing the news of his
family ' s murder?

Act V, Scene 1
1.    Which of Lady Macbeth's strange words and actions do you understand, even though
the doctor  and the gentlewoman do not?
2.         How does Lady Macbeth compare now with the way she was when we last saw her, at the feast where Macbeth saw Banquo's ghost?

Scene ii:
1 .  Why do we particularly notice when the lords say they will meet the English at Birnam

Scene iii:
1.    Not everything Macbeth says in this scene is brave and defiant.What else is running through his mind?
2.     Why can't the doctor  help Lady Macbeth?

Scene iv:
1.   From the evidence you have heard in this scene and the impression you had of
Macbeth's castle in the one before, which side is most likely to win the battle? Why?

Scene v:
1.    How does Macbeth take the news of his wife' s death (perhaps even suicide)?

Scene vii:
1.    How does Shakespeare, using only a few actors and a small stage, convey the idea of a battle with many soldiers?

Scene viii:
1.   How does Macbeth behave when he realises the witches have tricked him fatally?
2.   Old Siward is glad his son died fighting bravely. Who else was praised as a good soldier earlier in the play?
3.  Malcolm calls Macbeth and Lady Macbeth "this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen".
Do you agree with this description?