Tutor profile: Shelley M.
(1) In order to introduce the topic of your theme, character or plot composition, research paper, senior thesis, or scholarship application letter, what is the necessary addition you must include in your introductory paragraph to guide your reader's thoughts in the direction you want them to go? (2) Why is it important not to use the word "I" when writing anything other than a scholarship application letter, where you and your accomplishments are supposed to be the main focus? (3) What is the most important thing to remember about sentence structure in each and every paragraph you write?
(1) You must include a thesis statement or topic sentence in order to introduce your proposal or subject in the introductory paragraph of whatever kind of paper you're writing. (2) Unless the paper you're writing focuses on you, it's important to avoid using the word "I" unless your opinion has been specifically sought by your teacher, professor, or employer. Even then, keep the use of that tricky little word at a minimum, unless you're describing your own achievements and accolades. For instance, using the phrase "I think" or the word "I" in a research paper would be inappropriate, because the purpose of a research paper is to present evidence of the opinions of scholars, specialists and other learned professionals to support your thesis statement. It's best to keep nearly everything you write in a general nature, as one who is writing to inform would do. (3) The most important thing to remember about sentence structure in anything you write is to VARY IT. If you stick to simple four or five word sentences, your writing will seem both dull and choppy to your readers. On the other hand, changing the structure of your sentences within each paragraph will keep your readers engaged because your writing style will be interesting, even if those who read your work aren't necessarily fascinated by your topic!
Macbeth, written by Shakespeare as a special treat for the newly crowned King of England, King James I, provides us with IMMEDIATE knowledge of the characters of the husband-and-wife deadly duo by opening the first act with several very intriguing scenes to immediately capture his audience in a spine-tingling way. The chills just keep on coming through the whole play, but they're definitely concentrated in the first act, which generally gives audiences a big "YIKES!" that sticks with them through the whole show. In this play, Shakespeare puts a good man and good soldier, Macbeth, a man King Duncan admires tremendously, in a very difficult position in Act 1, scene 4. (1) What is that position, and what is Macbeth's reaction to it? (2) What intervention has previously occurred that turns Macbeth's feelings about Duncan's decision? Lady Macbeth is a proud wife who is very supportive of her brave husband. But she receives a letter from him in Act 1, scene 5, where we find out her true opinion of his nature...and we also find out something about HER true nature. (3) What do we learn in this scene?
(1) In Act 1, scene 4, King Duncan puts Macbeth in a very difficult position by choosing his son, Malcolm, as the heir to his throne. This is a typical thing for a king to do, but it frustrates Macbeth and plants a seed in him: That seed is jealousy and a sense of unfairness. Although he acts joyful at Duncan's pronouncement, inside is is both bitter and full of confusion. (2) The reason why Macbeth is confused is because, in Act 1, scene 3, he and his friend and fellow soldier, a man named Banquo, have been greeted by three witches in the swirling mist of a Scottish moor, in the dark, no less. The witches tell Banquo that his children will sit upon the throne of Scotland, but he himself will not be king. The witches then slyly tell Macbeth that HE will be king. This obviously raises some questions, the main one being HOW IS MACBETH GOING TO BE THE KING, if Malcolm, the king's heir, is standing in the way? (3) Lady Macbeth is a loyal wife, but that doesn't stop her from seeing her husband's weaknesses. She's proud of his battlefield promotion to be thaneship of Cawdor, but she's worried at her husband's meeting with the witches. Lady Macbeth isn't worried that Macbeth is taking advice from witches and believing every word they speak (they're obviously evil - why isn't she worried that her husband is being manipulated, lied to, and tricked into doing....something.....unfit for a good man and a worthy soldier to do?) No, she's worried that Macbeth isn't ambitious enough - MEAN enough - to fight his way to the kingship no matter who stands in his way. She feels that SHE can teach him how to have the necessary grit to pull off a few murders, and even declares, in her newly-fired ambition (she REALLY wants to be the queen) that she wants to be possessed by the "spirits that tend on mortal thought" to fill her with "direst cruelty" and take away her conscience so that she can show her husband how to be the killer he needs to be. (Again, YIKES!)
Let's dig in to the character of Hamlet and analyze why he acts with such indecision in the matter of avenging his father's death, which, as we know, has turned out to be a murder. Hamlet has received word in faraway Germany, where he's a university student, that his father, the king, has died. Shortly after Hamlet arrives back in Denmark, he has a very spooky meeting on the castle settlements with his father's ghost. The ghost of the king informs his living son that his death was not from natural causes, but rather by murder. And the murderer is Hamlet's uncle, Claudius, who has set himself up as king! (1) What other unwelcome information does the ghost reveal, and what is Hamlet's reaction? (2) Through Shakespeare's subtle suggestion in Ophelia's conversations with her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius, what do we find out about her relationship with Hamlet? As a hint.....Polonius is Claudius and Gertrude's most trusted advisor, but Polonius is a commoner and so are his children. Hamlet is royal, a Prince of the country of Denmark. Would this make a difference in a relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia now? What about in Shakespeare's time? (3) What does Hamlet hope to achieve in his very complex and wildly detailed plan when he proclaims, "The Play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of a King!" What is the outcome of the play? For discussion: In your opinion, is Hamlet's mental health breaking down, leading to his increasingly frantic behavior, or is he pretending to be "crazy" in order to keep Claudius unaware of Hamlet's intention to kill him? Can you provide "evidence" from the play to support your opinion? Remember, you're neither right nor wrong - over the years this play has been staged and filmed, directors and actors have gone in both directions!
(1) King Hamlet's ghost informs young Hamlet that there's a possibility that Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, has been involved in Claudius's plot to kill her husband/young Hamlet's father. After all, she did marry Claudius, her brother-in-law, about a month after King Hamlet's death....and she seems very happy in her new marriage! Hamlet swings back and forth in his desire to avenge his father's death by killing Claudius, but shrinks away in horror at the knowledge that his own mother might have conspired in his father's death. (2) Through Shakespeare's skillful management of both characters and plot, we find out that Ophelia and Hamlet have had a very, very close relationship, much more than just friends. In our day, the idea of royalty marrying a "common" bride or groom is not given much notice, but in Shakespeare's time, royalty married ONLY from the aristocracy or royalty from other countries. Hamlet would never have been able to marry Ophelia, even though he apparently told her that that was his intention. (2b) What does this suggest about Hamlet's personality/character? (He's kind of a jerk, or, as we like to call it, an "anti-hero." Discuss what makes a hero and an anti-hero in a book, play, or film. ) (3) Hamlet hopes to see Claudius in a startled or angry reaction to the play - and worries that Gertrude's knowledge of the murder will also be revealed. Directors sometimes choose to have Claudius explode in fury, but others choose to have him play it cool. Whichever way it's played, the result is that Claudius AND GERTRUDE p!an to send Hamlet to England, where he'll meet with an....unfortunate "accident." Uh-oh. For discussion: What does the student think? Is Hamlet having a mental breakdown? Or is he cleverly playing a role in order to throw Claudius off his track?
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