Students apply their knowledge about the melancholic humor in their character analysis and understanding of Hamlet as the “melancholy prince.” Students identify text references to Hamlet’s melancholy traits and assess the significance of his characterization for the play as a whole. Students are expected to have read Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and to be familiar with dramatic plot structure, specifically exposition and rising action.
- Four Humors in Hamlet (PDF, Word); Teacher’s Four Humors in Hamlet (PDF, Word)
- Dramatic Structure Review (PDF, Word); Teacher’s Dramatic Structure Review (PDF, Word)
- Four Humors Primary Sources (PDF, Word); Teacher’s Four Humors Chart (PDF, Word)
- Case Study of Melancholy and Literary Analysis (PDF); Teacher’s Case Study of Melancholy and Literary Analysis (PDF)
- Hamlet’s Melancholy—Essay (PDF, Word)
Other materials and set-ups
- A display set-up for the class (e.g., front board for class notes, overhead projector and screen, smart or Promethean board, etc.)
- (Optional) laptops or access to a computer lab for online research and word processing
Have the completed Four Humors in “Hamlet” and Dramatic Structure Review handouts to return to students at the start of Lesson 2. Also have students bring their copies of “Hamlet” or prepare copies of Act I Scene 2 (available at http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/hamlet.1.2.html) for students’ working on Case Study of Melancholy and Literary Analysis during step 4 below.
2. As a class review the two handouts and tell students that they are to examine closely Hamlet’s temperament during the exposition and rising action part of the play’s dramatic structure.
4. Hand out copies of Case Study of Melancholy and Literary Analysis and review the questions on the handout as a class. Have students work in pairs and use their copies of Hamlet (specifically, the Act I Scene 2) to answer the questions on the handout.
5. Have students share their responses and conduct the class discussion. See discussion guides in Teacher’s Case Study of Melancholy and Literary Analysis.
6. Ask students how or whether Hamlet’s melancholy affects the play, Hamlet, and help students reflect on why Shakespeare has characterized Hamlet as so stereotypically “melancholy.”
7. Tell students that they are to write a literary analysis paper about Hamlet’s melancholy. Hand out Hamlet’s Melancholy—Essay and review the task and evaluation guidelines as a class.
8. Have students write an outline of the essay and use the remainder of the class to work on the Hamlet’s Melancholy—Essay. Assign students finish and hand in their completed essays at the beginning of next class.
9. Lesson 2 Evaluation: In addition to class discussion, teachers can evaluate student understanding using the short essay on melancholy in Hamlet and other completed handouts.
- Assign a research project on the role of the four humors in other characters in Hamlet. Students may incorporate secondary source material into their own writing.
- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
- Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
- Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
- Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
- Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.