Hamlet Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark


Hamlet Theme

Example



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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism Shakespeare uses throughout the play. In the example storyboard above, the creator has focused on the motif of death. For Hamlet, death is the unknown, and he contemplates his actions in accordance with what he believes will be the consequences after death. In the storyboard above, the theme of death is explored.


Themes, Motifs, and Symbols to Discuss

Nothing is Certain

Throughout the play, Hamlet searches for the truth. He wants to know what will happen after death, he wants the truth about his father’s death, and he wants to know what actions are right. He cannot find answers to these questions though.


The Complex Nature of Taking Action

Unlike other Shakespearean protagonists, Hamlet doesn't take action. He is so concerned with finding out the truth, that he weighs or delays every action. Unlike Macbeth, who acts without thinking, Hamlet might wait too long, which also has consequences.


Death

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” Hamlet’s obsession with understanding death is brought on by the tremendous grief he feels after his father dies. In his famous speech, he ponders why we suffer through life. In the end, he assumes that we endure life for fear of death.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Hamlet. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Hamlet you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

Template


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Rubric

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