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Right now I'm reading Hamlet, and my class is supposed to do a mini project on this...

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cruzluisjuan | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2013 at 2:32 AM via web

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Right now I'm reading Hamlet, and my class is supposed to do a mini project on this piece by Shakespeare. I'm supposed to interview a professor or someone who is professionally connected with arts or theater. I was wondering why Shakespeare is still revelant today. In other words, why is it important to read his pieces of work today?

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tjbrewer | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 5, 2013 at 2:47 AM (Answer #1)

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Think of what questions Hamlet has to answer.  Are those dilemmas all that different from ones that we have to confront? 

When the play opens, Hamlet is contacted by the ghost of his late father and told that the reigning king assassinated Hamlet's father and usurped the throne.  The ghost tells Hamlet to kill his Uncle, the King, and take the Throne which is rightly his.  Hamlet doesn't know whether the ghost is his father, whether it speaks the truth, and whether the gravity of his Uncle's alleged crime merits death.  How many times have you learned of a betrayal (e.g. cheating on a girlfriend) and not known whether to break the secret?

Hamlet has an opportunity to kill his Uncle while he is praying.  But he hesitates, because if he kills his Uncle in prayer, his Uncle will go to heaven, and he wants his Uncle to go to Hell.  Again, a dilemma over whether to seize on opportunity or wait for a better one. 

The famous line "To be, or not to be, that is the question," is a question about suicide.  Should he commit suicide over his failure to kill his tyrant Uncle when he had the opportunity?  How many teens secretly contemplate suicide over a missed opportunity, especially immediately after realizing the missed opportunity. 

And the closing, "Oh woe is me, to have seen what I have seen!"  Can you not help but feel pity for him, to endure the death of so many so close to him, and though he manages to kill the usurping Uncle, he fails to take back the throne, as he too dies from the poisoned foil. 

Look for parallels to real life, even one makes Shakespeare relevant. 

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