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Introducing the Ghost: Asking Questions and Finding Answers

Teachers' Rating:
  4 ratings

George Cruikshank. Hamlet confronting the Ghost, act 1, scene 4. Lithograph, 19th century

May 2010
Carol Moran Petrallia (retired), taught English at Columbia High School, South Orange/Maplewood District, NJ and taught ESL in South Orange/Maplewood Adult School, NJ.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Hamlet 1.1
What's On for Today and Why

Shakespeare introduces the Ghost in the first Act of the play and immediately raises questions: Who is he? Why is he here? Is he an illusion? What role will he play in shaping the events of the story?

This lesson seeks to find answers to these questions through research, interpretation, and performance.

The lesson will take two-three 40 minute class periods.

What You Need

Folger edition of Hamlet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts


What To Do

Day 1

1. Briefly discuss with the students the importance of grabbing the audience's attention and prepare them to look for ways in which Shakespeare creates tension through language in the opening scenes.


2. Divide the students into small groups and have them read the play aloud from 1.1.1-68.


3. With reference to the text, have students create one list of the words characters use to describe the Ghost, and a second list of words that describe the reactions of characters to the Ghost.


Day 2

1. Have students read out their lists and discuss as a class explaining any unfamiliar words.


2. Have the class read the scene aloud together and when students feel familiar and comfortable with the text, have students volunteer to perform the scene.


Day 3

1. Continue to work through the first act in the same way, stopping to raise and discuss questions. As students read aloud, identify specific character reactions and discuss how this helps to clarify understanding.


2. Have students write a response to the following question in paragraph form, making specific reference to the text:

 "Is the Ghost an illusion?" or "Why is the Ghost important in the play?"

How Did It Go?

Was the students' understanding of the scene enhanced by identifying key words and character responses in the text? Did reading aloud allow for more engagement? Were the students willing to perform the scene? Did  working with partners or small goups work successfully?


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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