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Grapple Them to Thy Soul: Resources for Hamlet

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
                    Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel.- Polonius, from Hamlet, Act 1.3

Great advice, despite coming from Polonius.  Last semester we read Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  Charlotte Mason quotes from Hamlet quite often, including the lines above.  She prefaces the quote by telling us that "most of us carry in our minds tags of verse which shape our conduct more than we know." (Vol. 4, p. 10) It's so true. Because these "tags of verse" help shape our conscience, selecting only the best becomes paramount. And the quote above speaks deeply to me.

It has become a thing here at Sage Parnassus for me to share the resources that we used after each Shakespeare play.  You can access all of the past posts about the plays we've experienced here under the heading "Shakespeare in Our Community".

Oftentimes I introduce the play with a pre-reading activity at our TBG Community meeting. These serve as a sort of retelling, if you will.  Here is a great intro to the play that involves acting -   Pantomime Pre-reading Activity

I use the tried-and-true, affordable Folger's editions of the plays.  Each student who can read has their own copy.  It has become a rite of passage in our community to be able to have your own text.  In addition to that, each student now has a sizable library of the plays, marked up with their own notes and underlines.


As the teacher, I have a few favorite resources.  First, Shakespeare's Hamlet (Christian Guides to the Classics) by Leland Ryken is excellent.  Read World magazine's review of it here.

Another fabulous resource that I mentioned over 4 years ago is worth mentioning again.  That is, Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All . She brilliantly analyzes the plays with insight and depth that is astounding. And now you can take her class at Harvard - for free! Sandy tells me these lectures are well done so I 'm excited about this resource.

Finally, we did something fun with narrations this term.  Each student did a drawing narration for each act as we went through the play.  They were to draw the scene that struck them on paper 4.25 x 5.5.  When we met, they shared their drawings.  They were to design a book cover and place their 5 drawings in them.  Here are a few pictures of them.



Truly,
Nancy





10 comments:

  1. I really appreciated this post Nancy! I don't have a lot of personal knowledge of Shakespeare. However, it's part of my mother culture quest. The resources you mentioned above look manageable. This allows me to feel more at ease and breath.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and what works,
    Melissa

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    1. Hello, Melissa! I'm glad you found something useful in the post. Let me know how your mother culture quest goes! I hope your school year is going well, too.
      Truly,
      Nancy

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  2. I am so grateful for these resources! I am particularly excited about the link to Marjorie Garber's free class. I don't know if you understand how valuable your posts are to those of us newer to this homeschooling thing. You are a busy woman but you are a great blessing to us to take time to share ideas. I can't tell you how much you have helped me! Thank you and bless you!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing that with me! I know - I can't wait to listen, also, especially since I've been reading her words for years.
      Truly,
      Nancy

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  3. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration, Nancy and for taking the time to share with all of us. We are going to try Hamlet this spring with our own little co-op. I so appreciate the resources. Did the children put on a production this time as well? If so would you mind sharing which part they chose to perform?

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    2. Dear Joy,
      You are so welcome! I forgot to mention that we also used Coville's retelling. So, here's what happened the semester we did this play - my dear m-i-l law passed away at the same time my dd had emergency surgery. Thus, the first quote refers to how our little community of friends stepped up and helped. Indeed, I have learned the value of friendship. Anyway, we didn't do ALL that I had planned. I had planned that the students would memorize and act out the final sword fight scene. Not by watching videos, as those are quite gory, but by reading and staging it themselves. Alas, this didn't happen. We did have all the students memorize as much as they could of the most quoted lines in the English language - the "to be or not to be" speech by Hamlet.

      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  4. I can attest to the truth of the 'tags of verse.' When I was growing up my mother used to quote Shakespeare--I got all sorts of tidbits of wisdom from her, from her exclamation when we were arguing with her that "me thinks thou dost protest too much!" to her wisdom in dealing with feeling like I did not fit in during high school ("to thine own self be true"). The funny thing was, I had *no* idea she was quoting Shakespeare all those years. It was not until I was in college and I began reading some Shakespeare that all her mom-isms started to surface. I honestly thought they were just little things she had made up or gotten from her parents. To this day all of my mother's Shakespeare references live with me!

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    1. Well, thank you for illustrating that quote so nicely! I am so glad we get to do the same thing with our children, aren't you?
      Truly,
      Nancy

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  5. Thank you for continuing to share your experiences with things, Nancy. It sure is nice to have some people blazing the trail ahead for us!!! I'm trying to read Folger's A Merchant of Venice for myself this year. I'm slowly reading it with my children via Lamb's. I loved the illustrations of Hamlet. We usually do drawn narrations for Shakespeare to help us keep all the characters straight. :)

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