Hamlet Prompt

As I said in class, I would like to encourage you to work towards this formula when answering in-class prompts about Hamlet. The following formula will ensure that you are answering the question clearly and concisely. It will also guarantee that you have substantiated your claims with specifics from the text, which you interpret and link back to your thesis.

Below is an example of this with an answer to our in-class discussion question of why girls seem to grow up or mature more quickly than boys.
See how I follow the formula.

1. State your thesis (red)
2. Explain why your thesis is true (this may be called a preview) (orange)
3. Substantiate your thesis by providing an example or specific from the text that supports. (yellow)
4. Interpret this specific and show how it relates back to the thesis. (green)
5. Transition to another point or transition to next proof. (my transition "Later in the scene" is included in yellow as well)
6. Provide an additional specific from the text (yellow)
7. Interpret this specific and show how it relates to thesis (green)
8. Conclude (blue)

It is obvious that girls frequently mature more quickly physically than boys, but it may also be true that girls mature earlier on the inside as well. The lesson we can learn from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is that this is because, for girls, societal consequences of immaturity are more serious. In Act I Scene 3, in an aside between Laertes and Ophelia, Laertes expresses his concern that Hamlet may not be able to follow through on romantic overtures that he has made towards Ophelia. He tells Ophelia that she needs to “weigh what loss your honor may sustain if with too credent ear you list his songs”. This means that she needs to be careful of the consequences that being jilted by Hamlet would bring. Laertes tells his sister that the consequences of a short-lived romance between Hamlet and Ophelia would fall harder on her than on Hamlet, because Ophelia does not have the latitude as a young woman to have her honor tainted. Consequently, she needs to make mature decisions about Hamlet and not be romantically naïve. Later in the scene her father Polonius chastises her for her seeming naïveté by saying, “You do not understand yourself so clearly as it behooves my daughter and your honor”. Polonius is again warning her that not understanding the seriousness of this situation will lead to dishonor. Ophelia’s father and brother separately express protective concern and advise her in the ways that things are different for girls. Hamlet’s dalliance can be Ophelia’s devastation, which is why Ophelia has a more pressing need to grow up and put away her romantic notions.


Here is the prompt in regular font with numbers indicating their place in the formula.

1. It is obvious that girls frequently mature more quickly physically than boys, but it may also be true that girls mature earlier on the inside as well. 2. The lesson we can learn from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is that this is because, for girls, societal consequences of immaturity are more serious. 3. In Act I Scene 3, in an aside between Laertes and Ophelia, Laertes expresses his concern that Hamlet may not be able to follow through on romantic overtures that he has made towards Ophelia. He tells Ophelia that she needs to “weigh what loss your honor may sustain if with too credent ear you list his songs”. 4. This means that she needs to be careful of the consequences that being jilted by Hamlet would bring. Laertes tells his sister that the consequences of a short-lived romance between Hamlet and Ophelia would fall harder on her than on Hamlet, because Ophelia does not have the latitude as a young woman to have her honor tainted. Consequently, she needs to make mature decisions about Hamlet and not be romantically naïve. 5 and 6. Later in the scene her father Polonius chastises her for her seeming naïveté by saying, “You do not understand yourself so clearly as it behooves my daughter and your honor”. Polonius is again warning her that not understanding the seriousness of this situation will lead to dishonor. 7. Ophelia’s father and brother separately express protective concern and advise her in the ways that things are different for girls. 8. Hamlet’s dalliance can be Ophelia’s devastation, which is why Ophelia has a more pressing need to grow up and put away her romantic notions.