Tag Archives: cert

Hamlet loyalty & betrayal

Hamlet is loyal to his dead daddy’s memory

But must also be loyal to his moral core

Gertrude is loyal to her hot new husband

But in doing so betrays the one that went before

Ophelia is loyal to her daddy Polonius

But in doing so betrays her true love & her heart

Claudius is loyal to his own selfish interests

And hides pangs of guilt cause he’s really quite smart

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are loyal to the Crown

But betray their old schoolfriend by spying on him

Leartes is loyal to his daddy’s memory

But in dealing with Claudius is really quite dim

Horatio is loyal to his buddy/boss Hamlet

And never betrays him unlike all the others


Hamlet can’t handle the pain of betrayal

His girlfriend, his mammy and his daddy’s own brother!

He goes slightly mental and loses perspective

Thinks everyone is evil and just wants to die

Meanwhile his mammy and girlfriend Ophelia

Are so worried about him they agree to spy

How else will they ever discover the reason

He’s acting so strange & erratic and odd?

But he sees what they’re doing and feels so betrayed

As they trample all over his loyalty roughshod

All of this treason, deception & falseness

Makes Hamlet behave quite unlike his true self(s)

He wants Claudius to burn an eternity in hell

Kills Polonius, attacks Laertes, sends R&G to their deaths

That’s all I’ve got for you on loyalty & betrayal

My rhymes are getting ropey so I’d better stop

Just remember to write in a more formal style

And add plenty of quotes so your answer’s not a flop!

Hamlet Appearance vs. Reality Podcasts

Here’s some podcasts based on work we did in class recently. Every pair had to produce one paragraph on different aspects of the theme of appearance versus reality. Obviously your language would need to be more formal in an essay but this should help you understand the theme. Deception is just the ‘false appearance’ part of the equation so the wording of the question would be different but your answer would be very similar (insert the word ‘deception’ instead of ‘false appearances’ each time you use it).

After I’d finished them a student (hi Laura H!) gave me a really good essay on this theme with a completely different structure and it occured to me that you need to be aware of that – you need to know that there are lots of different ways of approaching the same answer, all equally valid. The important thing is that you stay focused on answering the question and support the points you make with relevant quotations. For example, you could focus on the fact that Hamlet’s ‘madness’ causes us to constantly question whether he is putting on a false appearance, or whether circumstances have, in reality, driven him mad! Or you could include a paragraph at the end on the only character who appears to be loyal & good and who actually is in reality – Horatio. You don’t need to discuss why Horatio is hot for Hamlet (thanks Chloe!) but you can if you wish…


[soundcloud url=http://soundcloud.com/evelynoconnor/sets/hamlet-appearance-vs-reality]

Hamlet Revenge Podcasts

Here’s some podcasts based on work we did in class today. Every pair had to produce one paragraph on different aspects of the theme of revenge. Obviously your language would need to be more formal in an essay but this should help you understand the theme.


[soundcloud url=http://soundcloud.com/leavingcertenglishnet/sets/hamlet-revenge-podcasts]

Sample Visual Text Answer

Your analysis of the photo should be so specific that the reader can picture it without seeing it. However, remember you are commenting on aspects of the photo not simply describing it (that’s the equivalent of telling the story instead of analysing it – never a good idea!).

The image of the lady passing the soldier (image 3) had the greatest impact on me. I think this woman decided to dress up because she is determined to carry on with her life as usual, despite the presence of soldiers on the streets of her city. Dressing up allows her to feel powerful and important. I particularly noticed her pearls in this image, as they are traditionally a symbol of wealth. Clearly as an unarmed woman in a besieged city, she felt powerless and threatened. Walking the streets of her city dressed up to the nines is an act of defiance against the occupiers – the caption under the photo says that it was taken during the siege of Sarajevo.

It is possible (but unlikely in my opinion) that she is trying to impress the soldier – her look is one of disgust and contempt, not seduction. She is unsmiling, she holds her head up high and swings her free arm as though she hasn’t a care in the world. This has to be an act – the man in the foreground is carrying a heavy machine gun. Judging by the distance between her two feet she is taking quite long confident strides, or at least as long as she can with her tight skirt on! Although the soldiers head is out of shot, from examining her line of vision, I’d say she is looking directly at him, almost as a kind of challenge to his authority. She appears entirely unthreatened & unintimidated by the weapon he is carrying.

The soldier in the left foreground appears quite relaxed, judging by the cigarette perched between two fingers of his right hand. However, he seems prepared to use his weapon as both of his hands are resting on it, ready to spring into action if necessary. By contrast, the woman seems to be going somewhere specific, on a mission. She is doing her best to appear nonchalant as she strides past. The two images create a great contrast because it is so unexpected to see a woman in upmarket fashionable clothes walking casually past a soldier in a war zone. The focus remains firmly on the woman, however because her body is in frame whereas the soldier’s legs and head are cut off, rendering him anonymous, a nameless, faceless, unknown soldier.

Romeo & Juliet

Here’s a summary of the play in simple English with most of the relevant quotes.

Click to download: Romeo and Juliet.pdf

Remember the type of questions you’ll be asked:

  1. A central character (a winner or a loser, lucky or unlucky, your favourite character)
  2. The relationship between two characters (they might specify – a tense/conflicted/loving/close/important relationship)
  3. Character profiles & an introduction to the play (focusing on the main theme) for the programme.
  4. Discuss the main theme/message of the play (2006 they specified one of these 4 themes: love/death/conflict/harmony) and show how this is relevant to your own life.
  5. Describe the world of the play & discuss whether you would/would not like to live in this society.
  6. Would you recommend this play? (plot, setting, themes, characterisation, style of writing, opening & ending)
  7. A scene from the play – one filled with conflict or the most dramatic/memorable/tense/atmospheric/happy/sad/funny/tragic and discuss how this mood/feeling is created.
  8. Describe how you would produce a scene from the play you have studied.
  9. The opening scene or the final scene(s)  – their impact on the audience & on you personally.

Never ever write a summary of the story, that’s not what they’re looking for. Knowing the story is the first step for you which is why I’ve written this summary but you must look at individual aspects – characters, themes, dramatic scenes – for answering exam questions.

Best of luck!