Tag Archives: junior cert

Hamlet lecture

Here’s a link to a lecture delivered by Professor Hubert McDermott of NUIG on Hamlet.


I also came across this website recently – you can do quizzes in most subjects and for every question you get right medicine is donated to families in the developing world! It’s a lovely idea and makes you more inclined to do the quizzes.

Here’s the link – http://www.thebigtest.org/about.php there’s a quiz on Hamlet up there already.

Just to bombard you with Hamlet related info, here’s an article from the Guardian questioning Shakespeare’s authorship…http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/14/shakespeare-playwright-trevor-nunn-mark-rylance?CMP=twt_gu

That’s all for now folks 😉


Sometimes you are asked to comment on the appropriateness of the title of a poem, novel, play etc…

Ask yourself what it is the writer wanted to get across in their title. He/she might want to

  • capture the essence of the storyline
  • make reference to the central theme/themes
  • have some symbolic undertones
  • rouse the reader’s curiosity

This is a careful juggling act however. A few years ago one of my students wrote a brilliant short story but spoiled it by leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination in her choice of title:” The Car Crash

I came across a similar case when I lived in France. A movie called The General’s Daughter was in the cinema. It tells the story of  murder victim Elisabeth and you are completely on her side until you find out some disturbing details about her past.The French title “Le déshonneur d’Elisabeth Campbell” totally spoils the audience’s experience (of being shocked as her secrets are gradually revealed) by giving too much information.

Take a title like “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

The entire plot revolves around the idea of innocent creatures being harmed – Boo Radley, Tom Robinson & his family, even Mayella Ewell so the essence of the plot is captured in the title.

The central themes are discrimination and growing up. Both are referenced in the title. Atticus teaches Scout not to discriminate against or harm any innocent creature and he knows that she has grown into a reponsible young girl when she follows this moral in her own life.

The full symbolic meaning of Atticus’ saying is fully understood by Scout in the final chapter when she decides that turning Boo over to the police and then having him exposed to the scrutiny of the entire community for his heroism would be ‘”sort of like shooting a mockingbird”.

However, on first glance, the title is a mystery and it is only upon reading the novel that it’s full significance is understood. The title is unusual & dramatic because it talks about killing but mentions a songbird. This clash of ideas grabs our attention. Even the grammar of the title is strange – it leaves us hanging because it’s not a complete sentence. Again our curiousity is aroused yet having read the book we feel the title perfectly captures the essence of the novel’s plot, themes & symbolism.



You may be asked to describe the feelings/mood/atmosphere created by the writer. The list below is intended as a way to prompt ideas. However, you must remember that simply figuring out the ‘right’ answer (if there even is such a thing in English!) isn’t enough – it’s not just what you say, but also how you say it that matters. Your answer needs to flow from one idea to the next and to show depth and insight.

Compare these two snippets:

The writer creates a very scary atmosphere in that she talks about things that most people find kind of frightening like snakes and bats and stuff


“Edgar Allen Poe makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks as he creates an atmosphere fraught with tension and fear. The sudden flight of the bats from the rafters and their “piercing squeals of rage” at being disturbed add to the errie desolation of this abandoned castle. Having the snake slither down the marble staircase and hover behind the central character is a stroke of genius – we see the danger, while he remains oblivious. The reader almost feels the urge to shout out (panto style) ‘he’s behind you!’ .

Both of these answers recognise the fear which dominates the atmosphere in this extract (for the record these are only partial answers – you’d need to trace the subtle ways that the atmosphere changes as the passage goes on) but the first one would probably fail in an honours English paper (it’s poorly written, relies on slang and cliches and lacks any depth)while the second would get you an A. So remember – it’s not just WHAT you say that counts – HOW you say it is supremely important if you want to get a good grade.


A: abandoned, absorbed, abused, accepted, accomodating, accused, admired, adventurous, affectionate, affirmed, afraid, aggressive, aggravated, agitated, alarmed, alienated, alive, alone, ambivalent, angry, analytical, annoyed, antagonistic, anticipated, anxious, apathetic, appreciated, apprehensive, approved, arrogant, ashamed, assertive, attacked, attractive, awed, awkward.

B: balanced, beaten, belligerent, betrayed, bewildered, bitter, blamed, bored, bothered, brilliant, beautiful, brave, bugged, bullied, burned out.

C: calm, capable, cared for, castrated, caustic, chagrined, challenged, cheated, cheerful, closed, comfortable, comforted, compassionate, competent, competitive, complacent, compromised, concerned, condemned, confident, conflicted, confused, connected, cooperative, conservative, consumed, contaminated, contented, controlled, out of control, courageous, creative, critical, cross, cruel, crushed, curious, cut-off.

D: dead, deceived, defeated, defensive, defiant, degraded, dejected, delighted, depressed,  deserving, desired, desperate, destitute, detached, destroyed, destructive, devastated, dirty, disappointed, discontented, disconnected, discouraged, disgusted, disillusioned, disjointed, dismayed, distant, distorted, distracted, distressed, disturbed, dominated, domineering, drained, dread, drowning, drugged, dumb, dying.

E: eager, edgy, egotistic, elated, embarrassed, embraced, empathetic, empowered, empty, endangered, enraged, enthused, envious, evasive, exasperated, excited, exhausted, exhilarated, exploited, explosive, exposed.

F: fair, failed, failure, fat, fatigued, fearful, fighting mad, floundering, fooled, forgiven, forgotten, fouled, free, friendless, friendly, frightened, frustrated, furious.

G: galled, generous, genuine, gifted, gracious, grateful, gratified, greedy, grumpy, guilty.

H: happy, hate, hated, hatred, healed, heavy, helpful, helpless, hesitant, hopeful, hopeless, hostile, hurt, hyperactive, hypocritical.

I: idealistic, ignored, immobilized, impatient, impotent, impulsive, inadequate, indifferent, incompetent, inconsistent, in control, indecisive, independent, indignant, indifferent, inferior, infuriated, inhibited, injured, insecure, insensitive, inspired, intolerent, irked, irritated, isolated, intense, integrated, intimate, intimidated, irrational, irresponsible, irritable.

J: jaded, jealous, joyful, judged, judgmental.

L: lazy, liberated, light, limited, lively, lonely, like a loser, lost, lovable, loved, loyal.

M: mad, manipulative, marked, masked, masochistic, melancholic, miffed, misinformed, misunderstood, moody, moralistic.

N: naked, needy, negative, neglected, noble, noxious.

O: obligated, obsessed, offended, optimistic, outraged, overlooked, overwhelmed.

P: pain, panic, paranoid, passive, passionate, pathetic, patronised, peaceful, persecuted, perturbed, pessimistic, phony, pissed-off, playful, pleased, pleasured, possessed, possessive, powerful, powerless, precious, preoccupied, pressured, private, protective, proud, provoked, punished, purposeful, put down, put out, puzzled.

R: rage, rambuctious, reassured, rejected, repressed, resentful, resistant, responsible, responsive, restrained, resurrected, revengeful, reverencial, rewarded, righteous, rigid, rueful, ruthless.

S: sacred, sad, sadistic, scapegoated, scared, secretive, secure, seductive, seething, selfish, self-conscious, self-obsessed, sensual, shaky, shamed, shocked, shy, sick, sincere, sinful, smothered, soiled, sorrowful, spontaneous, spiteful, stressed, strong, stubborn, stupid, subservient, superior, supported, suspicious, sympathetic.

T: teed off, tender, terrified, threatened, ticked off, timid, tired, tolerant, tolerated, traumatized, tranquil, triumphant, trusted, trusting, turned off.

U: ugly, unable, unappreciated, unbalanced, uncertain, understood, unfulfilled, unhappy, unique, unloved, unlovable, unprepared, upset, unresponsive, uptight, used, useful, useless.

V: vain, valuable, vengeful, vicious, vindicated, vindictive, violent, vulnerable.

W: warm, weak, weary, whole, wise, withdrawn, wonderful, worn out, worthless, worthy.

Y & Z: youthful, yearning, zany, zealous.