Hamlet Act I: Summary

Scene 1

We get introduced to the three guards, Barnardo and Francisco and Marcellus as well as Hamlet’s friend, Horatio. While the guards watch the castle, they begin to talk about a ghost they have seen recently. Soon this ghost – the ghost of Hamlet’s dead father – appears to the guards. Although the guards try to make him speak, he leaves when a cock begins to crow.

Scene 2

Scene 2 starts with Claudius remembering Hamlet’s father and talking about young Fortinbras, then finishes with giving power to Voltemand and Cornelius. Laertes, Polonius’ son asks to go to France, which Claudius allows with Polonius’ approval (Polonius is Claudius’ counsellor). As Hamlet is still bitter about his father’s death and her mother’s sudden marriage to Claudius, the comforting words of Claudius and Gertrude don’t help him. Horatio enters and tells Hamlet about his father’s ghost last night.

Scene 3

Scene 3 begins with Laertes and Ophelia talking about Hamlet. Ophelia is concerned about if Hamlet loves him and Laertes comforts her. Polonius enters, says goodbye to Laertes and then talks to Ophelia. Although Ophelia tells him Hamlet has confessed his love to her, Polonius disbelieves him and discourages her of liking him. Ophelia agrees.

Scene 4

Scene 4 begins with Hamlet, Marcellus and Horatio waiting for the ghost. When the ghost enters, it asks Hamlet to go with him alone. Even though Horatio deeply opposes Hamlet of going away alone with the ghost (out of fear for him), Hamlet ends up leaving away.

Scene 5

Scene 5 explores the private encounter between Hamlet and the ghost. The ghost reveals he is Hamlet’s dead spirit and that he did not die by accident but as a result of Claudius murdering him. After Hamlet’s shock, the ghost urges him to revenge his death and not to let the monarchy fall into Claudius’ hands.  Hamlet immediately tells Horatio and Marcellus the news but makes them swear that they would keep it secret.

Initial thoughts

  • Horatio often speaks in rhymes (in-line rhymes)
  • Hamlet is very angry at Claudius and Gertrude
  • Hamlet must have changed after his father’s death, because Ophelia is confused about his feelings toward her now
  • Polonius either wants to protect Ophelia or destroy her hope; does he know about Claudius’ sin? Is that why he opposes Ophelia’s affection toward Hamlet?
  • What or who does the ghost represent? Is it just a product of their imagination?

Final IO Preparation #3: Rhetorical techniques

Epiphora (asking questions)

  • So how does this reflect my global issue?
  • How is this this global issue presented in the other text?
  • What effect does this literary device have?
  • Why do these similarities/differences exist in these two works?

Parallelism

  • Raleigh goes to war and dies, the children go to war and die
  • Raleigh learns the true nature of war, Marji learns the true nature of war
  • Raleigh loses his naïve attitude and becomes disillusioned, Marji loses her naïve attitude and becomes disillusioned

Repetition and anaphora

  • Meanwhile Raleigh is directly affected, Marji is indirectly affected
  • Meanwhile Raleigh dies, Marji survives
  • Meanwhile the children on the front die, Marji throws a party

Contrast

  • “Keys to paradise” (euphemism) = contrast with reality
  • Keys to paradise = keys to death
  • Keys to paradise vs. necklace with chains and nails

Final IO Preparation #2: Annotations and literary devices

Literary devices in Journey’s End

  • Metaphors
    • “The last shell” This metaphor stands for the last straw or the last piece of hope/life Raleigh has in him after experiencing battle in first hand. Once it is gone, it is clear that he is disillusioned.
    • “Dusk” The idea of dusk suggests the passing of daylight and therefore might be a metaphor for Raleigh’s lost enthusiasm and naivity. Now the light is gone and his trauma is taking him over.
    • “The glow of Very lights” As these light rise and fade, it is clear that Raleigh is no longer a mentally stable person after going into battle. He is disillusioned from the idea of war and does not know what to think anymore.
  • Diction
    • Repetition of “slowly” when describing Raleigh and Stanhope’s movement. Since their movements reflect each other’s, it is clear that Raleigh is now as disillusioned as Stanhope.
    • Stanhope’s “haggard face”
    • Stanhope staring “dumbly” at the table
    • “Expressionless and dead” voice
  • Repetition
    • The Colonel’s words to Raleigh
    • Well done, my boy!”
    • “Very well done, Raleigh.”
    • The word “boy” is used three times when referring to Raleigh
  • Dialogue
    • One-way interaction between the Colonel and Raleigh
    • The Colonel ignores the real effect the battle has on Raleigh
    • The Colonel’s ignorance highlights the exploitation of Raleigh
    • Reflects an everyday interaction between a teacher and a student

Literary devices in Persepolis

  • Diction
    • “They come from the poor areas”. The idea of poverty connects to that poor people can easily be exploited, especially if they are young
    • “Convince them that the afterlife is even better than Disneyland” This comparison between afterlife and Disneyland serves to highlight how young these children actually are (Disneyland is a place of childhood)
    • “Trance”
    • “Hypnotize”
    • “Toss” suggests that the children are no more than disposable objects (at least to the politicians) and “carnage” implies that they are used as animals that can be sacrificed for slaughter
    • “Promised a better life” These promises made by politicians were all just lies
    • “Meanwhile” This phrase highlights the contrast between children on the front and Marji’s life, therefore also the contrast between disillusionment and early death and normal childhood. While children are dying on the battlefield, Marji is living her life as a fairly normal child
  • Number of panels and their sizes
    • The first page contains 8 panels which are all quite small
    • The second page consists of two panels only which directly contradict each other; this emphasizes the contrast between disillusionment and normal childhood
    • The first panel on the second page is twice as big as the second one, which emphasizes its effect on Marji
  • Colors
    • The first four panels on the first page are quite light and have lots of white background
    • Once the idea of child recruitment is brought up, the panels turn quite black
    • This change in color foreshadows Marji’s disillusionment and the early death of the children
  • Metaphor
    • Keys to paradise (for the children)
    • A necklace with chains and nails (for Marji)
    • Although these two objects look similar, the way they are described is different. Keys to paradise has a much more pleasant connotation and potentially reflects the sweet lies the politicians implemented in the children’s heads.
    • A necklace with chains and nails sounds harsher than keys to paradise, but it serves as a contrast between illusion and reality

Final IO Preparation #1: Initial ideas

Potential works

  • Persepolis
  • Journey’s End

Potential global issue

  • How politicians exploit the youth in order to use them for war, but after learning the true nature of war, children get disillusioned and carry huge emotional burdens

How can this be seen in the works

  • Persepolis: The Iranian government begins to indoctrinate young boys (around age 10) about the glory of war and they are eventually sent off to fight
  • Journey’s End: Raleigh’s naivity is the most striking example of this behavior, but it could be argued that Stanhope (also being 18 when joining the army) fell into the same trap as well

What category would fit this fit into

  • Politics, politics, justice
  • Beliefs, values, education

Examples throughout history

  • Glorification of war in World War One: many young boys joined the front straight after leaving school (e.g. Britain)
  • Indoctrination of children in Nazi Germany: children from a very early age were taught to glorify war and learn up to be strong nationalists
  • Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988): 95,000 Iranian teenagers died during this conflict after getting indoctrinated and urged to join the front

Connection to the modern world

  • Source 1: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/29/record-number-countries-us-child-soldier-blacklist
  • This article explores how some African and Middle Eastern countries (Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Iran, etc.) are using a huge number of child soldiers in their conflicts. The children are either forced or coerced to participate in the wars, because they are easy to brainwash and/or kidnap. Child recruitment is still very common in Iran and was legal in South Sudan until 2019.
  • Source 2: https://www.arabnews.com/node/1719951/middle-east
  • This article explores how the Houthis (Yemeni Islamic group) recruits children by brainwashing them and then sending them off to battle. It uses the case of a specific boy as an example, who disappeared sometime in 2015. Although the Houthis present his death as an act of “heroism” and “martyrdom”, it is clear that they use children as easy targets. The article also reveals that children are recruited in mosques and then indoctrinated to go to battle.

IO #3: Self-reflection and teacher feedback

Similarities:

  • The marks for Criterion B, C and D are pretty similar
  • We both agreed Criterion C needs to be worked on
  • Both texts get explored quite equally

Differences:

  • Criterion A was scored lower than I expected
  • I thought I mentioned the global issue enough (I did not want to be too repetitive)
  • Criterion B and C are marked 1 point lower (slight difference)
  • Mr. Dalton graded a bit harsher than I did

What needs to change:

  • My presentation; I need to sound more confident and excited as well as more formal
  • I need to consider time period and the works as a whole more
  • I need to consider why there are similarities AND differences in the texts/works

How to work on the change:

  • Practice as much as possible to not sound bored again. If I practice enough, I will not pause and have ‘um’s…’ and ‘errr’s’ when speaking. This fluency will make it easier for me to sound enthusiastic.
  • Need to look into the whole works more in order to prepare for the follow-up questions and answer more convincingly

IO #3: Reflection

My marks:

  • Criterion A: 8
  • Criterion B: 8
  • Criterion C: 8
  • Criterion D: 6
  • Total: 30 (overall a 6)

This IO practice definitely went better than the previous ones. I was more confident about how to structure it and what is really required. I was also able to stay within the time limit which I really struggled with last time. I gave myself 8’s in the first 3 criteria, because I think I showed a pretty good understanding of both the texts and the works chosen. My presentation was balanced and I did not spend more time talking about one of the poems/works than about the other, even when it came to the questions. Besides, I connected the effect of literary devices to my global issue all the way or at least most of the time by repeating the key phrases. I organized my presentation based on the suggested structure and stuck to it within 10 minutes, so I think my focus was also quite good.

However, I gave myself a 6 for Criterion D because of my language. I sound quite bored and dejected throughout the entire presentation and lack enough formality. There are also quite a few pauses which indicate uncertainty and break the flow of my presentation. Next time I need to find a way to sound more enthusiastic, so my examiner will not fall asleep. In addition, although I could use anything more than language for Cat In the Window, next time more than one focus should be explored per each text.

IO #3 Preparation

The life of Emily Dickinson:

  • she lived much of her life in isolation
  • she was considered an eccentric by the neighbors
  • lots of her poems deal with death and loneliness; she was haunted by the idea of death
  • this suggests she was probably an unhappy person with mental problems
  • she rarely left her room and chose to stay inside to write poetry
  • poetry was probably her way to escape the real world

Art as a tool to cope with the world:

  • as people, we like to look at or read pretty things
  • even if a piece of art is not happy, it can still be beautiful
  • the process of creating something that ends up as beautiful relieves stress and helps us cope with our problems

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/21/feeling-overwhelmed-how-art-can-help-in-an-emergency-by-olivia-laing

Haruki Murakami: ‘You have to go through the darkness before you get to the light’

Themes in Norwegian Wood:

  • memory/remembrance
  • nostalgia
  • suicide
  • death
  • sex
  • gender roles
  • grief
  • depression/mental illnesses
  • coming-of-age
  • politics/political instability

The ideas brought up in this interview can mostly be related to the themes of politics, depression, nostalgia and remembrance. As Murakami admits that “people in [political] confusion like [his] books,” it is clear that the perplexity of Norwegian Wood (referring to the the confusing characters and the relationships between them) can be linked to political instability. Because the plot is set in the political and social reforms of the 1960s, the puzzling actions of the characters may be due to political changes (partially at least). The theme of politics is clearly present in Norwegian Wood when Toru mentions the daily flag raising and the riots, which he personally despises.

Another theme the article touches on is depression or at least some form of emotional pain. At one point he is referred to as an “agony uncle,” because his stories have a “sedative effect on the reader” and can provide a “comforting refuge from the real world and its extremes”. This theme is primarily present in Naoko’s mental illness and her suicide. Moreover, the suicides of Kizuki, Hatsumi and Naoko’s sister also relate to this idea. Toru’s mental health is affected by these deaths as well as he struggles to make deep emotional connections. On one hand, he is drawn to Naoko because of Kizuki’s memory and the pain they share together, but the liveliness of Midori also attracts her.

The last main theme the article mentions is nostalgia and/or remembrance. Murakami recalls the 1960s as the “age of idealism” when people believed things would be better. He also admits his books are described as “weird,” but eventually the weirdness leads to a “better world”. The themes of nostalgia and remembrance are presented through Naoko’s question toward Toru in the very beginning of the novel: she asks him to never forget her, which he promises (and he obviously sticks to his promise). Toru remembers Naoko, Kizuki and everybody else in this novel just like how Murakami remembers the feeling of the 1960s. Despite Naoko’s eventual suicide (along with the many deaths mentioned in the story), the novel ends on a fairly happy note. Although Naoko and Kizuki are dead, if nobody else, Toru will remember them. Or, as written in the interview: “Life may be abidingly strange, […] but nightmares do end.”

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