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Oral Presentation on Hamlet for Advanced Literature

By SForsyth

For advanced level literature courses teachers frequently focus on developing critical thinking and analytical skills. Here is a lesson plan for an oral presentation on Shakespeare's Hamlet which will help students to learn these skills.

Aim of Assignment

Hamlet is a challenging text and understanding the techniques Shakespeare used in his plays can often be daunting for students. By focusing on specific scenes, students are able to better engage with the text and look closely at some of the devices used such as imagery, soliloquy, asides, allusions and so on.

It also helps them to give relevant examples or quotations to support their argument, especially if they have a copy of the selected passage either on a poster or projected on the whiteboard. Alternatively students can select quotations separately to use as evidence for their analysis and to show to the class. In this way students are able to look closely at the text and the effects of the different techniques Shakespeare has used in his dramas.

Structure of Presentation

Students need structure. Oral presentations are also much more effective if they are structured correctly and often students fail to understand they cannot merely deliver a list of random points loosely strung together. Help them out by giving them structure guidelines for each presentation that they do and make sure they understand it will be assessed accordingly as part of their grade.

Guidelines for Structure of Hamlet Presentation

Introduction

· Place scene in context within the play.

· Explain why this is a significant scene.

· Link to the main themes of the play.

Main Content

· Analysis of the literary devices used in the passage.

· Exploration of the effects of the literary features, linking these effects to the development of the plot, the development of the characters, tragic elements, dramatic tension and so on.

· Must provide detailed, carefully chosen examples.

Concluding comments

Bring your presentation to an end.

Explain once again how important the scene is and include your personal response or the possible response of the audience to this key scene in the play.

What Literary Devices Should Be Analysed?

Here are some examples of literary features which students may choose to examine in their presentation:

  • Different types of imagery: e.g. disease/heaven and earth/references to death.
  • Tragic elements.
  • Foreshadowing.
  • Use of double entendres/puns.
  • Use of asides/soliloquies.
  • Symbolism.
  • Metaphors/similes/personification.
  • Sounds/alliteration/ assonance/sibilance.
  • Allusions.
  • Use of minor characters.
  • Contrasts.
  • Entrances/exits.
  • Characterization/relationship between characters/changes in character.
  • Setting.

Key Scenes

Once you have explained how students will do their presentation, they should each choose a different scene to focus on for their presentation. Here are some suggested scenes.

  • Act 1 Hamlet's first appearance.
  • Ghost scene Act 1.
  • Nunnery Scene.
  • Play within the Play Scene.
  • Closet Scene.
  • King Claudius praying scene.
  • Ophelia's mad scene.
  • Description of Ophelia’s death.
  • Grave Scene.
  • Hamlet's death.

Encourage students to practise their presentation either at home in front of a mirror, with a friend or family member or by recording themselves with an iPod or similar device or even making a video. Many students do get nervous for presentations so they need lots of encouragement to build up their confidence for this type of assignment.