Shakespeare Study Guide for Hamlet, Acceptable for State Reimbursement is written to accompany William Shakespeare’s acclaimed tragedy filled with ghosts and madness. This literature study guide helps you get the most out of Shakespeare while enjoying the process.
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Literature study guides from 7Sisters Homeschool inspire students rather than tire them with busywork that kills the story.
Instead of attempting to start with analysis and the deciphering of Elizabethan English, these Shakespeare guides introduce teens to the Bard and his amazing ability to tell stories, to create characters to whom we can relate, and to present life situations to which we can connect emotionally and intellectually.
(For more on author Sabrina Justison’s philosophy of teaching Shakespeare to teens, scroll down.)
Our guides are easy to adapt for use at an:
- Average High School
- College Prep
- Honors Level
Hamlet SHAKESPEARE Study Guide, Acceptable for State Reimbursement
focuses on the following literary devices:
- TRAGEDY according to Aristotle’s definition, as obeyed by William Shakespeare
- Themes: a young man’s search for identity AND revenge
- Motif: the repeated scenario of action vs. inaction
Students are guided through a 3-step process to help them encounter the play in a positive way, with follow-up VOCABULARY work and essay writing or personal response paper assignments to help them articulate their thoughts about the characters, the plot, the ideas, and the whole Shakespeare experience.
- Read the SUPER-FAST SUMMARY that sets them up to track with the story.
- Watch a production of the play. (There’s a video of a quality production recommended in the guide.) Refer to the summary as needed in order to keep up with what’s happening.
Don’t worry about catching every single detail. Let the STORY play out in front of your eyes. Let the CHARACTERS introduce themselves to you.
Which of them do you like? Dislike?
Which of them reminds you a little bit of someone you know? Of yourself?
No need to take notes; just enjoy the story and think in general terms about ways in which you connect with it.
- After the performance is ended, READ THE PLAY and answer the no-busywork, brain-engaging questions that follow in the guide, designated by Act and Scene.
Each guide concludes with vocabulary work, writing prompts, enrichment ideas and recommended passages for memorization.
Hamlet SHAKESPEARE Study Guide, Acceptable for State Reimbursement
is an EBook curriculum complete with:
- background information
- questions by Act and Scene
- suggested writing assignments
- enrichment activities
- recommended passages for memorization
- answer key
This product downloads as two separate PDF files. One file is intended for student use. This document contains fillable fields so students can type their answers directly into the guide. The other document is the answer key, intended for the parent.
Click here to view an excerpt from Hamlet SHAKESPEARE Study Guide.
If you would like to hear Sabrina and Vicki talk about ways to share Shakespeare with your teens with a positive outcome, check out this episode of the Homeschool Highschool Podcast:
If you’re considering experiencing Shakespeare in a group at your co-op, this episode will help you get some great ideas:
If you are new to 7Sisters’ no-busywork literature study guides, you will find this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode helpful: How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides.
We recommend Folger Shakespeare Library editions of the plays. The explanatory notes provided on every facing page of the script are extremely helpful for making sense of the Elizabethan language, and the paperback versions are quite affordable. While you most certainly can use any copy of the play, the Folger editions are terrific! (We are not affiliates, just fans.)
10-Day No-Questions-Asked Money-Back Guarantee on all 7Sisters EBook curriculum.
Why did author Sabrina Justison write these Shakespeare guides, and why should we think we might appreciate the style of her guides in our homeschool?
…a note from the author of this guide…
Ah, Shakespeare! (Ugh! Shakespeare.)
When I graduated from high school, an old family friend gifted me with a hardback volume of The Complete Annotated Works of William Shakespeare. Inside the front cover he inscribed,
“My dear Sabrina,
There is Shakespeare…and then there is the rest of literature.
With love, Dave”
I loved that inscription. I loved plays. I loved acting, and directing, and writing, and clapping enthusiastically from a seat in the audience.
But I didn’t actually love Shakespeare. (hangs head in shame)
I always felt that I *should* love Shakespeare. I just wasn’t entirely sure WHY I should love Shakespeare.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. I was asked to teach a Shakespeare class to high schoolers in our local homeschool community.
I was finally confronted with the need to figure out three important things:
• WHY I didn’t love the Bard’s brilliant work,
• HOW I could come to love him (if my gut sense that I *should* love his plays was right)
• AND how I could help teenagers to ACTUALLY love him (rather than just feeling guilty for not loving him when they really should).
I came to the following conclusions, and I present them to you with hope that they will persuade you to keep an open mind as you explore Shakespeare using my literature guides.
• WHY? I discovered that I didn’t love Shakespeare because I didn’t relate to him. I was impressed by his plays, challenged by them, but until I could connect with the characters and stories he’d created, I would never love him as a playwright.
• HOW? I decided that I could probably connect to his plays if I could learn why so many people over several centuries had connected with them. There clearly was something there that I had missed thus far. If they could do it, so could I. (This worked,
by the way!)
• AND…I figured I could help teenagers actually love him if I equipped them to find a point of connection with his plays from the starting gate. What starts well can end well…and all’s well that ends well. (That was a Shakespeare joke, by the way; he
wrote a play called All’s Well That Ends Well. I’ve never actually seen it or read it, but it’s on my list now that I have come to love Shakespeare.)
Connection with Shakespeare’s characters and stories comes from a recognition of his motivation in creating them.
He wrote for REAL PEOPLE, folks living normal lives, pursuing careers, living in families, facing challenges, celebrating victories, falling in love, feeling disappointment, dreaming of the future, and learning about life as they lived it.
His works were not created for academic types to study in musty libraries. His plays were more like TV shows than they were scholarly writing. The problem for us today is simply that his audience used English words very differently than we do.
So…what if, instead of getting all twisted up about the precise meaning of the words, we started with the characters and the storylines?
What if we took a giant step back from the “wherefores” and “anons” to meet the main players and find out what challenge they are facing (because all good stories require characters to face challenges)?
Shakespeare wrote stories with a universal appeal; if you are human, he was writing for you. Since we are all humans, let’s identify that universal quality and grasp it tightly in our hearts and minds!
Oh, and another thing!
Shakespeare wrote scripts. These were intended to be acted out on a stage in front of an audience. I’m sure it was interesting to read the scripts he had written, and certainly the actors in the company had the experience of reading through page by page when handed the script for the first time, but these plays were meant to be performed, not read!
We are meant to be audience members in a theater, not students in a classroom, when reading his brilliant dialogue. So what if we took a giant step back from the script and watched a performance (hopefully a good one!)?
And then, (because high school is a time when analyzing literature has tremendous value, both academically and developmentally) what if ONLY THEN we analyzed the play in written form?
Might we improve our chances of connecting with the playwright and his words, of relating to the stories he was telling and the characters who were living them, if we saved our student work for after our efforts in audience participation?
That’s the approach of each 7Sisters Shakespeare Literature Study Guide.
First, I will give you a super-fast overview of who will be doing stuff:
what they will be doing, a bit of the why, a glimpse of the how, a flicker of the when and where. I’ll prime your brain to watch a performance with basic comprehension guaranteed. (Yes, there
will be spoilers this way, but I think it will be worth it.)
Second, I will recommend a solid production of the play for you to watch.
You can choose another version, of course, but I’ve tried to find free resources that are well presented.
Third, you will read the play
and I will provide questions for you to think about, prompts for you to use as you write in response to the play, and enrichment activities for you to consider exploring.
Last, I will point you toward some of the interesting and challenging vocabulary in Shakespeare’s story
,and we’ll do a little brainy, student work with those words, hopefully keeping things reasonably fun as we go. You’ll have the chance to write in response, to explore some enrichment activities, and even to memorize a little passage of the script that will wow people at parties for as long as you live!
This is the approach that turned me into a lover of all things Shakespeare!
Does it sound like it’s worth a try? If so, huzzah!
As Jaques so famously said (As You Like It, Act II, Sc. 7), “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” As the stories of life play out before the audience, so those fictional stories capture truth about the human experience as it plays
out in real lives. You just might find a glimpse of yourself in one these plays penned in Elizabethan England!
And if you’ve tried and failed to love Shakespeare before, be inspired by King Henry on the battlefield (from Henry V, Act II, Sc. 1) when he said, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!” It’s worth another try from a fresh angle.