I will be honest…I never read Hamlet in high school. I read it for the first time this summer in preparation for this year, and I hated it. I was also very nervous about teaching it to 9th graders when most teens in the nation don’t get it until their senior year.
But, I loved teaching it! The twelve 9th graders I have loved it, especially in comparison with the other Shakespeare plays they’ve read.
We finished reading Hamlet yesterday (today they are taking their test). I had my students write a reflection about what they liked and didn’t like about Hamlet, and how their view on Shakespeare had changed (we studied his son’s death and how that helped influence him). Here are some of their responses:
Honestly, I still can only describe Shakespeare as “strange.”
I like the storyline of Hamlet–all the betrayal and sneakiness the characters have.
Overall, Hamlet is the best Shakespeare play.
If I were to actually watch it, I’d cry at the end.
I actually thought that it was funny compared to his other plays.
I understood this play more compared to his others. That also might have been becasue there was a translated version.
Before reading the book I thought he was a repetative play writer who did’t include any comedy into his plays. After I thought all the same but with a tad bit of comedy.
Overall, as a class, the least favorite character is Hamlet and their favorite is Horatio.
Last week, as a review, I also had them do presentations on either a theme or a character from Hamlet. Here follows our Wall of Honor to the Bard, as well as some examples.
|A very “modernist” depiction of the theme Man vs Self in Hamlet|
|Ophelia as a lantern fish…or is it Hamlet as the puffer fish baiting Ophelia?|
And, I’m super excited to share Reduced Shakespeare Company’s version of Hamlet with my 9th graders on Thursday. It’s hilarious! Look it up on youtube (it’s in 4 10-min parts).