The assignment was on AP Classroom.
Olivia’s question: In the beginning of his soliloquy, Hamlet comments on the player and his ability to weep “for Hecuba.” What is the significance of Hamlet’s comments about the player?
My answer: At the beginning of his soliloquy, Hamlet says, “Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, a broken voice, and his whole function suiting with forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?” Here, Hamlet is referring to the player’s acting that he just witnessed and commenting about how the player was able to weep and show so much emotion for Hecuba, a character that he has no true connection to. Following this, Hamlet goes on to lament his frustration about how he cannot express emotion the same way that the player can, despite him having an actual reason to express such emotions (his father being murdered). This goes to show how hard Hamlet is on himself and how he often feels frustrated with what he lacks.
My question: What is the significance of the ongoing situation with Norway and their royal family, particularly young Fortinbras? Why does Shakespeare include this storyline?
“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway provides a perfect example of the significance of a story’s title. Before even reading the story, the reader can make a prediction about its theme from the phrase “white elephants” in the title. A white elephant is defined by something that is unwanted, useless, or hard to dispose of. Now, just from reading the title, the reader knows to be on the lookout for the white elephant in the story. In this short story, the American and the girl have an intense conversation about “it,” but never explicitly mention what “it” is. However, certain parts of their conversation give hints that allow the reader to draw conclusions about what it is. For example, the American refers to it as an “awfully simple operation” that many people he knows have gone through with before and been happy with. He also tells the girl, “I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.” This, combined with the girl’s indecisiveness may lead the reader to believe that the “it” is abortion. The reader’s suspicions about abortion can be confirmed by returning to the title. Clearly, the white elephant is the baby – something that is unwanted and hard to get rid of. Furthermore, the “hills” in the title represent the girl’s pregnancy because of their resemblance to her pregnant stomach. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” not only does the title help the reader predict the story’s theme, but it also helps confirm the reader’s theories about what “it” is.
Question/prompt for the next person: How do authors use contrasts to enhance the meaning of their stories? What are some examples of contrasts and why are they effective?
Explication of “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
“they”/”these” – I think that Clifton uses these pronouns to describe her hips (rather than saying “my hips”) in order to separate her hips from herself. In her poem, she talks about how her hips are “free hips” and “don’t like to be enslaved.” By using “they” and “them” when referring to her hips, she makes it seem as if they have a mind of their own and aren’t controlled by her.
“want” – by using this word, she conveys a similar message as she did from using “they/them.” Most people would think of hips as just a part of the body that is controlled by the brain, but Clifton wants to make the message that her hips are free-willed and have their own agenda.
“mighty” – not only does she want the reader to know that her hips act on their own accord, but she also wants them to know the “mighty” air that they carry. She described her hips as “big” at the beginning of the poem, but here her use of “mighty” can have two meanings: that her hips are physically large and that they possess some kind of greatness or something impressive.