Humanities Question

Humanities Question

Choose from one of these three options (which can include sub-options as well) and submit to the portal by the due date.

FORMAT: 3-5 pages (min. 1500 word count), 1” margins, double-spaced, 10/12 pt. type; cover page if you wish. Use at least two outside sources (cited). MLA format preferred for any quotes (see syllabus). You must use one of the approved file types: pdf,txt,rtf,doc,docx – no Google docs, etc.

  1. HAMLET options

William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600)

In a brief essay, address one of the following prompts:

  • Discuss the concept and use of irony (reversal of expectations) as it occurs in the play: verbal, situational, and dramatic. Give at least three examples, whether from dialogue, action, or characterization.
  • Discuss how the play uses the medieval convention of the Revenge Play to develop complex characters who reflect a much truer image of human nature than the perfect heroes and heroines of such theatrical models. How does the contradiction & ambiguity of such characters reveal their humanity? Besides Hamlet, characters like Claudius, Laertes, and Gertrude would be good choices to consider. Again, give at least three examples, whether from dialogue, action, or characterization.
  • Consider how Aristotle’s notion of hamartia — the inherent flaw or weakness that destroys a tragic hero — drives the story. What is Hamlet’s flaw and in what ways (and what key scenes) does it manifest itself? As always, give at least three examples, whether from dialogue, action, or characterization.

NOTE: Whichever you choose, you must also include at least one good paragraph that discusses the cinematic methods and achievements of Franco Zeffirelli’s version, which we watched this term. As a filmed adaptation of a celebrated play, it takes liberties with the script but achieves impressive results. Detail and evaluate the most important that you notice (angles, lighting, staging, acting, etc.). And of course, consider the acting: Mel Gibson, Glen Close, Helen Bonham Carter, et al. Give at least three examples about the experience (content, direction, performance, and/or production).

Some useful links:

The complete Hamlet, so you can reread key scenes as needed. This link opens to Act V, scene II (gravedigger), but you can jump around from there: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 version starring Mel Gibson: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

  1. WAR OF THE WORLDS options

H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds(1899)

In a brief essay, address any or all of the following points raised in this influential early science-fiction novel, which has inspired countless later stories and films (yes, including Independence Day!):

  • the author’s use of oppositions and plot reversals in developing the narrative (inside/outside, underground/on the surface, fleeing/returning, paired characters, etc.).
  • the contrasting opinions/ideologies expressed by the Curate, the Artilleryman, and/or the narrator himself.
  • the colonialist/imperialist implications, ironic and otherwise, of the alien invasion, where Europe (in particular England, the heart of the British Empire) is decimated and subjugated by a technologically-advanced culture that is indifferent to the human race.
  • the utopian implications suggested in the conclusion, where human society has been united by the impact of the invasion and now has access, if not yet understanding, of superior Martian technology.

Whichever aspect(s) you choose, also answer these questions:

  • How does H. G. Wells develop the trope (figure of speech, repeating narrative device) or theme (big idea, comment on the human experience), and to what effect? Give at least three examples, whether from dialogue, action, or characterization.
  • What conclusions do you reach in response to the story and/or the author’s style?
  • Who does our philosopher-narrator hope to see at the story’s end?

3. Film option: The Agony & the Ecstasy (dir. Carol Reed, 1965; based on the Irving Stone novel)

In a brief essay, discuss the respective motivations of Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) for accomplishing their goals. Consider especially why the artist refuses and delays so much, and what the pope’s larger vision is behind his patronage. Also, explain the metaphor of “throwing out the sour wine.” You might also give some thought to the creative rivalries between Michelangelo, Bramante, and Raphael, and to the “romantic interest,” or lack of it, implied in the presence of Contessina de Medici (Diane Cilento). All these characters express clear attitudes towards (variously) art, creativity, love, and spirituality. You should be able to reference at least three central details/characters/scenes from the film to illustrate your points. Use an effective structure that carefully guides your reader from one idea to the next, and edit thoroughly so that sentences are readable and appropriate for an academic audience.

You can rewatch the film at the pay-per-view links in Module 3.

See this link for cast, etc.:


Answer preview

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells’ commences with the landing of a Martian capsule near Woking in England. The events of the invasion are documented as experienced by a male narrator and his brother. The Martians are not particularly friendly to humans and, as such, view them as threats that need to be destroyed. They, therefore, construct powerful fighting machines with hazardous heat rays and that emit poisonous black smoke. The unidentified male narrator and his brother interchange their viewpoints throughout the novel as they attempt to steer clear of the Martians. The brother escapes England on a ship while the narrator seeks refuge inside a knockdown house. When the narrator gets back to London, he finds that the earth pathogens, which the Martians had no immunity against, had killed them. It’s a relief to him when he returns to his home to find it still standing and his wife also back, safe and sound. This paper is an in-depth analysis of the colonialist and imperialist implications of the alien invasion, where England is decimated and subjugated by a technologically advanced culture that is indifferent to the human race.