Personal Essay Shakespeare

DO NOT USE SPARKNOTES OR ANYTHING THAT WILL GET ME FLAGGED

BEFORE READING THE PROMPT THESE ARE THE PLAYS WE HAVE READ

The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummers Night Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Hamlet

The Prompt

Your final essay for this course asks you to take a more personal approach to Shakespeare and the plays
weve read this term. In this essay, explore some insight into human nature or human social life that
Shakespeare teaches you in one or more of the plays weve read this spring. Im not suggesting that
Shakespeare sets out to teach us, or that his plays are didactic; what I mean is that we learn about the
human condition through the dramatic situations and language of the plays. You should focus on one
particular lesson or insight, and you may use one or more than one play to explore your topic. Be careful
not to write a catalogue of lessons or insights; focus the essay on a single idea that you can develop with
examples, details, and explanations. Please focus on the written texts, and not on any of the productions
we screened. You are welcome to mention other relevant Shakespeare plays, but keep your focus on one or
more of the four plays we read as a class.
A personal essay is most effectively written in the first-person. I know that youve been frequently told that
you shouldnt use the first-person in academic writing, but the personal essay, as a genre, is distinctive; its
voice and style are, indeed, personal because the essay is primarily concerned with your own experiences,
perceptions, and feelings. That doesnt mean, however, that the voice should be conversational; you are still
writing in an academic context and about a serious subject. If you have particular questions about writing a
personal essay, please contact me or work with a Writing Center consultant. Whilst this is a personal essay,
you must still quote from the play(s) in order to illustrate and support what you say about your response.

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