I have provided a list of topics below. You should choose one topic and then refine it into a specific, coherent thesis regarding the play(s) on which you have chosen to write.
Avoid excessive plot summary!!!
Include a bibliography of all works consulted in MLA (Modern Language Association) format.
- Locate at least three detailed reviews of three different recent stage productions of The Tempest and us these three reviews to compare how these separate productions address a specific theme or concept (e.g. Prospero’s magic or Caliban) or handle a specific staging challenge in the play. At least one of these reviews must be from an academic journal (e.g Shakespeare Bulletin, Theatre Journal, Shakespeare Quarterly, etc.-these all have review sections) and one should be from a newspaper, magazine or online popular media source. Ensure that you have to focus to your argument about the three reviews of the productions you are discussing. Note: you are not being asked here merely to summarize these reviews rather to seek out reviews that elucidate particular critical/interpretative approaches to the play as a means of exploring and analyzing the specific theme, concept, or staging challenge you have selected.
- Hamlet says, ‘What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties…and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?’ (2.2); Macbeth says man is “poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage” (5.5), and prospero remarks, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on” (4.1). With particular emphasis on these passages (their content, style, and context), compare and contrast the thematic function of the protagonists’ musing on ‘Man’ in Hamlet, Macbeth and The Tempest. Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, or books in to your argument.
- Compare and analyze the sexual, romantic and social agency of Cleopatra and Helena. You may wish to compare how Cleopatra stage-manages and performs her own downfall with how Helena stage-manages the ‘bed trick’ and its revelation at court. How do both women attempt to get what they want from their men and from society? Are they successful? Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, or books in to your argument (OR two peer-reviewed sources and one historical co-text).
- Analyze and compare Ferdinand and Miranda’s courtship/relationship to Bertram and Helena’s. Does it make a difference that one relationship is part of a ‘subplot’ and the other is the main plot? What image of courtship and marriage do these two plays present? How do they compare as couples and as romantic stories? Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, or books in to your argument (OR two-peer reviewed sources and one historical co-text).
- Discuss the theme of loss and recovery (or attempted recovery) of family members in at least two of: The Tempest, Cymbeline, Alls Well that Ends Well, and Hamlet. You may discuss actual ‘loss’ and ‘fake losses’ such as Helena’s fake death or the multiple ‘false’ deaths in Cymbeline. Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, and or books in to your argument.
- Discuss the role of female suicide in at least two of your plays. How is suicide staged? Is it on or off stage? What are the women’s motivations for suicide? Is suicide a distinctly female mode of death in Shakespeare? You may (or may not) wish to compare the deaths of these women to a male example of suicide such as Antony. Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, or books in to your argument.
- Soliloquies are a common feature of Renaissance drama; they are one means by which playwrights reveal the inner thoughts and psychological conflicts of characters on stage (unlike prose fiction in which a narrator can tell us). For this paper I want you to examine closely the soliloquies in Hamlet and one other play from our course. Who has them? Does one character have more soliloquies than the rest or are they evenly shared in each play? How do they punctuate the action? What is their function in the play’s dramatic structure? What impact do they have on the audience? Integrate well three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly critical articles, book chapters, or books in to your argument.