Commentary on oral assessment – Hamlet

To begin with in the play, Hamlet is faking his madness but as the play goes on it is questionable to whether he slips into real madness. To look at Hamlets changing state of mind in the play we focused on three soliloquies, as this is where what is going on inside his head is expressed. We also looked at the characteristics of other central characters such as Claudius and Ophellia. The three soliloquies we looked at were 2.2.101, 3.1.56 and 3.2.348.

To help with our presentation we had a visual aid to help us, we used a large sheet of coloured sugar paper and wrote key notes about the three soliloquies on it in clear thick pens so it could be easily read by the class. On our table before our presentation we discussed the three soliloquies and for our final presentation informally discussed our ideas and what we thought the three soliloquies showed and how we would stage them with movement, tone of voice, props, lighting and actions.

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We did some wider reading and research, using the library and Internet, to back up our thoughts on the soliloquies – especially on the Oedipus Complex, that we believe is demonstrated in the third soliloquy. The Oedipus Complex is the theory that a young boy is sexually attracted to his mother up until puberty, this is like Hamlet because he is jealous of his mother and doesn’t like her sleeping with Claudius.

In our presentation we discussed each soliloquy in turn, first saying what the soliloquy was about and then saying how we would stage it as a play. We brought into our presentation the research we had carried out and discussed the Oedipus complex.

Here is a brief summary of the three soliloquies, in the first soliloquy Hamlet is guilty that he hasn’t cried since his father’s death, and feeling rather depressed. He also starts to question himself about whether the spirit he was good or evil, or whether it was the devil. In the second soliloquy Hamlet is questioning whether to kill himself and doubting about what happens when you die, is there heaven and hell or is there an afterlife at all. In the third soliloquy there is reference to the Oedipus Complex.

As a result of my study of Hamlet, the three soliloquies and the rest of the book that we have been reading and discussing in lesson, I can make my conclusion. I think that Hamlet is not really mad at the beginning of the play when he is putting it on, but as the play goes on is no longer pretending, and is truly insane. I think this is demonstrated in the three soliloquies especially, as this is where we get to look into his mind to see what he is really thinking and feeling.

I think our presentation went extremely well as we discussed everything in detail as well as bringing our research into it. Next time I would use more visual aid, maybe a few OHP slides to show the setting I would use for the play, and maybe a suitable video clip. I would also try to get the class more involved by asking questions and asking for their own personal opinions.