June 26, 2019
Directions: Answer one question in essay form (400 words minimum). Please be specific in your answer, referring to the play when necessary to support your argument. Please avoid plot summaries and generalizations; use your book/ photocopies to quote from the text (acting act, scene and lines), not from introductions or explanatory footnotes.
1. Discuss Hamlet’s conclusion that the world as it stands is a prison, “in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst” (2.2.245-47). Do you agree with Kierman Ryan that in fact it is “the time [which] is out of joint”, not Hamlet (as most critics have assumed for centuries)?
2. Iago’s famous lines “I am not what I am” (1.1.65) force an examination of identity and duplicity in Othello. Is Iago the only character who could make this statement? Discuss how issues of identity and self-knowledge intersect with stereotypes of race, gender and class by referring to specific examples and limiting your argument to one or two characters.
EXTRA QUESTION ONLY FOR STUDENTS WHO DID NOT SIT THE MIDTERM EXAM
• Explore the importance of gender boundaries and cross-dressing to the three characters, Jessica, Portia, and Nerissa. Do they achieve power or reinforce gendered identities in The Merchant of Venice?