Literature

 

Respond to two of the following prompts, one from Group A and one from Group B. Write 1-2 double-spaced pages each, in a Microsoft Word document, double-spaced (with 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, and 1-inch margins).

Write a fully developed argument that uses evidence from the texts and lectures. In addition, all responses should have a clear thesis statement, logical organization and transitions, and a simple conclusion. Remember to be specific and detailed in your observations to the best of your ability and to avoid summary.

 

Group A

 

1. Compare/contrast Aeneas to other heroes that we have discussed this semester. Possibly consider the extent to which he matches the standard definition of a hero, or look at ways in which Virgil redefines heroism though him and why.

 

2. To what extent is The Aeneid a political poem? Is it propaganda? Discuss specific examples of the political nature of the poem based on your reading of the text. Use specific quotation to reinforce your argument.

3. How is Beowulf a traditional epic hero compared to other epic heroes we have studied this semester? Alternatively, is he a new kind of hero? Is he a tragic hero as in, does he suffer from a flaw? Explain your argument.

4. Does Geoffrey Chaucer craft an authentic female in the Wife of Bath? Is she a feminist character? Consider her portrait in the General Prologue, her own prologue, and her tale in your response.

 

 

Group B

1. What do you feel is the cause of Hamlet’s inaction? How does the character’s complexity contribute to this? Do you feel he is completely inactive and passive? Why or why not?

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2. One of the strengths of Shakespeare’s writing is complex psychological development. For Hamlet, one such characteristic is the realism of his depression. Find a passage that deals with depression and discuss it. What makes it an effective passage?

3. Hamlet’s conflict is familial yet political. Discuss how Shakespeare explores themes of politics and family by drawing parallels with Greek works that we have studied. In what ways does he draw on the Oresteia, in what ways the Odyssey?

4. Hamlet has a deep misogyny and distrust of women. Discuss how this is evident in the play. What are his attitude on sexuality?

5. What is Hamlet’s attitude toward death, especially his own? Do you find it to be an enlightened view or simply a product of his depression or madness?