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Due any time prior to Saturday Dec. 12th midnight via Safeassign on our course’s Blackboard site. Please choose one of the following six essay prompts on which to write a 900-word essay (which is 3 double-spaced pages if you use 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch side margins). Please cite act, scene, and line numbers for all quoted passages. Also make sure at the head of your essay to note your name, the course number, and the number of your chosen prompt. For prompts #5and #6, structure the essay however you think would be most effective. For the first four prompts, which all invite you to compare two plays, please use the following three-part structure, which you used for the first take-home essay. First 300 words (two paragraphs): explain how the play Titus Andronicus handles the topic in one or two specific passages, scenes, or episodes. Second 300 words (two paragraphs): explain how A Midsummer Night’s Dream handles the topic in one or two specific passages, scenes, or episodes. Third 300 words: compare the two texts’ treatments of this topic. Make sure you provide textual evidence to support each claim you make. Avoid introducing historical context or setting; stick to the texts themselves rather than using the texts to explain something about the people or culture or tradition that produced them. And while paraphrase (also called “plot-summary” or just “summary”) can be brought in sparingly to assist your argument in one or more paragraphs, it cannot substitute for argumentation. In other words, you should be making arguments about the text rather than merely narrating what happens in the text. 1. Shakespeare’s female characters: Write an essay on Shakespeare’s female characters by comparing the roles of two of the following four: Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and Ophelia in Hamlet. As when analyzing any character in a literary text, you might get started by thinking about what would be lost thematically from the play were you to remove the character from the play altogether. 2. Humor: Compare the way humor contributes to one or more larger themes of the following two plays: The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet. What do the characters in the play find humorous? Are we as readers / viewers invited to agree or disagree (or perhaps a little of both)? How does our response to such a depicted moments of humor in a particular scene contribute to our attitude towards the subject matter / theme / topic in question? 3. Scenes of persuasion: Compare scenes of persuasion in two of the following plays: Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. There are numerous scenes in each of these plays that depict characters trying to persuade or convince or influence other characters. For example, the ghost of Hamlet tries to convince young Hamlet to enact revenge; Hamlet – by speaking in a way uncharacteristic of his personality (putting on an “antic disposition,” as he calls it himself) – tries to persuade Ophelia, among others, that he is crazy; Calpurnia tries to influence Caesar not to go out on the fateful day; Antony and Brutus try to sway the opinions of the people of Rome; and Portia tries to persuade Shylock not to exact the pound of flesh. There are of course many other such examples in each of these plays. Using examples from particular scenes, write a three-page essay comparing the role of persuasion in two of these plays. 4. Friendship: using one or two scenes each from two of the following plays – Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet – compare how Shakespeare explores the theme of friendship / camaraderie / companionship. For example, you could compare the friendship of Brutus and Cassius to the relationship of Nerissa and Portia. Or you could compare the friendship of Bassanio and Antonio to the friendship of Hamlet and Horatio or to the friendship of Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, for example. 5. Direct one scene or part of a scene: Choose one scene from one of the plays we have read together this semester in which the way the scene is staged is significant to the overall scene: where on the stage the actors stand in relation to each other, what they wear, the appearance of the set, the tone of the actors’ deliveries, the pace of delivery, what the actors are doing when they speak (do they speak and move at the same time, for example, or sequentially? Are there long silences? No silences? Knowing looks?). Where and when should the play be set for maximal effect on its audience? For example, is it set in Shakespeare’s time or in our present day or in a particularly consequential historical moment? Watch one filmed production of this scene and, in light of this filmed production and your careful reading of the play text, mount a three-page argument for how exactly this scene should be staged and why. Make sure to make at least one reference to the filmed version that you watch. 6. Edit a scene from Hamlet: There are three separate Renaissance Hamlets: the 1603 quarto (commonly referred to as “Q1”), the 1604 quarto (Q2), and the 1623 folio version (F). Of these three, only two (Q2 and F) are customarily used as copy texts for modern editions of the play. Our Norton edition includes a conventional “combined text,” as the Oxford editors call it, which, as most modern editions of Hamlet do, uses one of the three Renaissance Hamlets as its copy text, adding from the other versions where deemed appropriate to do so. Specifically, your Norton uses Q2 as its copy text “with interpolated lines, passages, and scenes from the Folio.” Helpfully, the Norton also separately includes for comparison the entire Q1 text. In the Norton’s Q2/F version, Act 4 scene 1 includes Hamlet’s soliloquy beginning “How all occasions to inform against me. . . .” Of all thee three early versions of the play (Q1, Q2, and F), only one (Q2) contains this soliloquy. Because Q2 serves as their copy text, the Norton editors include it in their version. But many modern editions include this soliloquy even when they use F as their copy text. For example, even though the first edition of the Norton (1997) uses F as its copy text, it still includes this Q2-only soliloquy, set apart in italics and with special line numbering (220.127.116.11-18.104.22.168). Now it is your turn to make the editorial decision. In three pages, make the case either for inclusion or exclusion of this soliloquy from your (hypothetical) edition of Hamlet, making sure to anchor your argument in a close analysis of the language of the passage and an explanation of its significance(s) – or lack thereof – to some aspect or aspects of the play as a whole.