"I know not, sir, whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life."

--James Barrie

Stone: Ophelia

Directions: Please submit your writing assignments to me via e-mail. Save your file as a Word or RTF file (Rich Text File, or .rtf), and attach the file to your message. When sending assignments, your e-mail message should include your name, the class number (English 215), and the name of the assignment which is attached. Use correct MLA format to set up your pages and document your sources; for more information see The Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University. Make sure that you eliminate spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors from your writing. Send your e-mail to me at annw708@gmail.com

About Wikipedia, SparkNotes, and Databases

DO NOT cite Wikipedia in academic essays. Since it is not edited by reputable experts, it often has errors and isn't reliable. It's okay to use it as a starting point for your own research, but go on and find other sources to verify the information, and cite those in your essay.

Also avoid SparkNotes, ENotes and similar sites. Teachers hate them since they provide only the most superficial analyses. Avoid citing them in academic papers; instead, go find analyses from more reputable academic sources: university and scholarly websites, peer-reviewed journals in library databases, and books. Don't be scared by that word "databases." The databases are just collected electronic versions of articles published in print magazines, journals, and newspapers. They also sometimes contain e-books. You can search them and find tons of good material. There's more about how to use the databases on the Writing About Literature page.

Writing Assignment 1

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly using MLA format. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list.

This assignment is due Friday, March 9.

1. A theme common to Shakespeare's plays is the difference between appearance and reality. Choose either A Midsummer Night's Dream or Richard III and discuss the ways in which this theme is treated in the play.

2. A technique Shakespeare commonly uses in his plays is to juxtapose opposites. Choose either A Midsummer Night's Dream or Richard III and discuss the ways in which this technique is used in the play.

3. Choose a minor or supporting character from either A Midsummer Night's Dream or Richard III and discuss his or her function in the play.

4. A Midsummer Night's Dream has a subplot. Richard III does not. Choose one of the plays and discuss the effect made on the play by its subplot, or its lack of subplot.

5. Marriage is a theme of both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Richard III. What are the similarities and differences in the way marriage is approached in the two plays?

6. Choose your own topic. Clear it with me first.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.


Writing Assignment 2

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly using MLA format. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list.

This assignment is due Friday, April 13.

1. Choose one major character from either Henry V or Hamlet and explain how the imagery the character uses in his or her major speeches reflects his or her attitudes and values.

2. In Richard III there is an obvious struggle for power going on. The same is true in Henry V. How is Henry different from Richard in his attitude toward power?

3. According to Hamlet, "There's a divinity that shapes our ends..." (V.2.11-12). Does the rest of the play seem to support Hamlet's statement?

4. A major theme of Hamlet is the contradictory nature of reality: appearance contradicts reality, words contradict deeds, behavior contradicts purpose--nothing is what it seems to be. Choose a major speech from the play and explore the ways in which its imagery reflects this conflict.

5. Is Henry V a hero?

6. Henry V is classified as a history play. Hamlet is classified as a tragedy. Yet many people die in Henry V; and although we don't see Henry's death, the play ends with a speech by the Chorus which reminds us of his death and the loss of all he has gained. So why isn't Henry V classified as a tragedy?

7. Choose a minor or supporting character from either Henry V or Hamlet and discuss his or her function in the play.

8. Many readers and critics see Richard III as a tragedy. Compare Richard and Hamlet as "tragic" figures.

9. Choose your own topic. Clear it with me first.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.


Writing Assignment 3

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly using MLA format. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list.

This assignment is due Friday, May 11.

1. Based on the plays we have read, would you say that the structure of a history play is different from the structure of a tragedy? If so, how? If not, why is the effect so different?

2. The word "honest" is used 52 times in Othello. Divergent forms of the words are found for all of the main characters, even the clown and Bianca. Obviously, honesty and dishonesty are a huge issue in Othello. Examine the various meanings which are attached to the concept of honesty in this play.

3. William Empson says, "I think a queer kind of honesty is maintained in Iago through all the puzzles he contrives..." Do you agree? Explain. (Note: the word "queer" here is not meant to refer to homosexuality; it means "odd.")

4. Some critics have said that Hamlet is much more a "tragic hero" than Othello or Macbeth. Do you agree? Explain.

5. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," the witches in Macbeth proclaim. Nothing is as it appears. How is this theme carried out in either Macbeth or Othello?

6. Compare Iago to Richard III.

7. Compare Macbeth to Richard III.

8. Critic Mark Van Doren says, "The triumph of Macbeth is the construction of a world...which is at once without and within Macbeth..." Explain what Van Doren means. How can Macbeth's world be outside of him and within him at the same time?

9. Compare Macbeth with King Claudius in Hamlet.

10. Of the tragedies we've read (Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth), which is the best-written? Explain.

11. Choose your own topic. Clear it with me first.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.

Final Exam

Of the plays we have read this semester, which one have you liked the best? Explain. Which one did you like the least? Explain. This is a personal essay, so feel free to use "I." Suggested length: 2-3 paragraphs.

Maximum possible points: 50.

This assignment is due Tuesday, May 29, by midnight.
NO LATE FINALS WILL BE ACCEPTED!!!