Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Two night-watchmen at the castle at Elsinore have seen a ghost they believe to be the former king of Denmark, the father of Prince Hamlet. The soldiers entreat Horatio, Hamlet's confidant, to wait with them for the ghost's appearance during the night watch. Horatio is horrified by its resemblance to the dead king. The men ask Hamlet to join the watch, and when the ghost appears, it reveals to Hamlet that he is, indeed, the spirit of his father. Then his father's ghost informs Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius, the current king of Denmark.
Claudius, Hamlet's uncle and brother of the former king, has not only usurped the throne of Denmark through foul murder, but has also taken Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, as his wife. Hamlet vows to avenge the death of his father and says he will put on an "antic disposition" to distract others from his genuine purpose.
Hamlet's indecision and his madness—feigned or real—will result in tragedy for himself and all those around him.
Through William Shakespeare’s tragic tale of death, revenge, and madness, students will learn:
Author Biography: Learn more about William Shakespeare.
Background Information: Learn about the Anglo-Saxons, the Christian roots of the Viking chieftain Canute, and Denmark’s control of Northern Europe in the early 1000’s. Find out about Kronborg Castle and the inspiration behind the story.
Before-You-Read Activities: Learn about European geography, informative report and research on depression, ghosts, travel videos, Shakespeare biography.
Vocabulary words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: In context, character study, couplet, aside, soliloquy, foreshadowing, summarizing, synonyms, paradox, dialogue analysis, dumb show, couplet, end-rhymes, chorus, compare & contrast, comic relief, main & minor characters, conflict, complications, protagonist/antagonist, tragic flaw, hamartia, theme, tragic play structure, revenge tragedies.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Weakness and sin, revenge vs. justice, man’s place in the world, fear & indecision, death, prayer, guilt, insanity, reason & honor, spiritual fate, suicide, friendship.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Biblical ghosts & witches, Purgatory research, harbingers & moral decay, symbolic meanings of plants/flowers research, well-known lines & phrases, drama performance, time line, multiple essay ideas, multiple creative writing ideas.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more plays by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar to, Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Movie suggestions included.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!