Shakespeare Appreciation Stuff



What is the appeal of Shakespeare? The themes are timeless: suicide, adultery, the supernatural, romance, a madman, murder, revenge, poisoning, jealousy, interracial marriage, religious persecution, just to list a few.

The LANGUAGE of Shakespeare is what makes it so interesting and beautiful. . . Modern day language lacks the BITE. . . the EMOTION. . . the POETRY . . . of his plays. For example from Romeo and Juliet:

“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear, beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!” can be put in modern day teen slang—“ She’s hot.”

Some of Shakespeare’s plays are controversial with mature themes as his writing can be violent, graphic, and explicit. Your may be reading and viewing the following Shakespeare plays:

Hamlet, Othello, Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Taming of the Shrew. (As freshmen and sophomores you have already studied Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. As juniors and seniors you will study A Midsummer Night’s Dream and MacBeth.) All movies will be accompanied by a required writing assignment, so attendance is necessary. These are not shown for just entertainment purposes.


For help in understanding Hamlet, go to this website:


Class Syllabus Syllabus.doc


Exam Requirement

Shakespeare Appreciation Exam

Exam Part I: Choose ONE or more of the following options to submit IN WRITING and PRESENT in any manner the week before exams.  You can get help from a partner.

 Use power point or some sort of visual. 

Exam Part II:  This will be a timed writing during the exam period itself.

Note: Ideas for this assignment were taken from Diana Mitchell’s article “Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report” as it appeared in the English Journal.  Please note the MLA citation for this article at the end of this assignment.  The following is my rationale for this sort of assignment and comes from the article referenced:


Students tire of responding to literature in the same ways. They want new ways to think about a piece of literature and new ways to dig into it. It is hoped that this diverse group of suggestions will whet the interest of students in exploring new directions and in responding with greater depth to what they read. (Mitchell 92)



1. Talk show invitation.

Select a character, think about his or her involvements and experiences, and then figure out which talk show would most want your character on as a guest. What would they want the character to talk about? Who else would they invite on the show to address the issues the character is involved in? Write up the correspondence between the talk show host and the character in which the host explains what the character should focus on while on the show. After the show, have them exchange one more letter mentioning how they felt about what happened.

2. Radio exchange.

Your character calls into a radio show for advice. Choose which show your character would call in to and then create the conversation he or she would have with the radio advice giver. After the call, compose a dialogue of at least two follow-up calls from other characters.

3. Awards.

Create an award for each of the main characters based on their actions in the play. One might be awarded “most courageous” for fighting peer pressure, another might be awarded “wisest” for the guidance he or she gave other characters. For each award, write a paragraph that explains why this character deserves this award.

4. Answering machine message.

Answering machine messages have gotten more and more creative over the years, reflecting the interests and idiosyncrasies of the owner. Select ten characters from  the plays and create an answering machine message from each of them. Pay particular attention to diction and tone.

Submit this in writing.

Suggestion: Play a tape of the messages complete with appropriate background music.

5. Current events.

Select five current news or feature stories from television or news magazines that you think your character would be interested in. Then explain how your character would respond to each of the stories and the opinions your character would have about what was happening in the story.

6. New acquaintances.

Select two characters. Then think about three to five people, living or dead, that you would like your characters to meet. Write about how you selected these new acquaintances and what you’d like the character to learn from the people you introduced him or her to.


Work Cited:

Mitchell, Diana. “Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report (Teaching Ideas).”

English Journal 87.1 (January 1998): 92–95.