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Juan Christian Pellicer, ILOS 2006 II
ENG2327/4367 Shakespeare. Essay topics
First draft: Friday 20 October
Final draft:
2327 students 6 November
4367 students 7 December (‘Classfronter’)
ENG 2327: FIVE PAGES (4367 students may not choose topics from this list)
1 ‘In the interpretation of Hamlet criticism has found many problems; but none has
proved more puzzling than the hero’s treatment of Ophelia in the so-called “nunnery
scene”’ (3.1.89—174).1 Give your own analysis of the ‘nunnery scene’ in light of
relevant aspects of the critical debate.
2 In Romeo and Juliet a great deal is made to depend on the outcome of chance events or
coincidences. Is this reliance on chance events a source of dramatic strength or
3 Discuss the significance of Shylock’s Jewishness in The Merchant of Venice.
4 Critics have spoken of the progressive ‘degradation’ the figure of Antony suffers in
Antony and Cleopatra (see for instance the Introduction to John Wilders’s Arden 3
edition, p. 45). Is there anything convincingly ‘great’ about the ageing soldier-statesman
we encounter in the play (as distinct from what is said of him by several characters
throughout the play, mainly in retrospect)?
5 The Tempest: a play about imperialism?
ENG 4367: TEN PAGES (2327 students may also choose topics from this list, but are
encouraged to stick to the questions above)
1 Romeo and Juliet contains a striking diversity of literary styles and conventions. How
effectively are these elements integrated dramatically?
2 Q2 Hamlet, Folio Hamlet, conflated Hamlet: do the differences matter?
3 Hamlet’s love of the theatre is Shakespeare’s own invention; the players and the playwithin-the-play are not derived from any of Hamlet’s known sources. Discuss the
significance of the theatre in Hamlet: the texts of the fictional plays and speeches, the
Harold Jenkins, ‘Hamlet and Ophelia’ (1963) in Kenneth Muir, ed., Interpretations of
Shakespeare: British Academy Shakespeare Lectures (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 142—60;
acting troupe’s rehearsals, Hamlet’s instructions to the actors, and stage performance in
4 Explore the implications of economic, legal and religious language in The Merchant of
5 Antony and Cleopatra examines the dynamic relationship between individual
personality and public role in the behaviour of two highly unpredictable protagonists who
constantly flout or would appear to redefine decorum. Discuss with reference to both
Antony and Cleopatra.
6 ‘Mutability is the main theme of Antony and Cleopatra’. Discuss.
7 Analyze the problems raised in the final act of The Tempest.