2008 Open Prompt Answer

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we are introduced to Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend. He always follows Hamlet where possible, and quickly carries out orders. He appears to care for Hamlet throughout the play. The relationship between Horatio and Hamlet shows us that Horatio is too perfect, and that he was essential in carrying out the death of Claudius.


We first see Horatio at the start of the play. He is trusted by the castle guards, who know that he is close to Hamlet. The castle guards show him the ghost, and he endeavours to tell Hamlet the next day, so that he is well informed. Horatio doesn’t go around telling anyone else, nor does he discuss it with the guards. The guards work for the king, but Horatio makes sure that the guards don’t tell anyone, so that Claudius never hears about it. He seems to have predicted every scenario, and does for the good of Hamlet. In this way, Horatio is perfect.


We later see Horatio and Hamlet in a number of scenes. Horatio is often advising Hamlet of what to do. When Hamlet needs to check if his uncle reacts unfavorably to the play he has put on, he turns to Horatio to watch his uncle. In this way, Hamlet shows that he trusts Horatio with his family members’ lives. That level of trust is almost never seen in the real world showing that Horatio must be very loyal to Hamlet. Later in the play, Horatio receives the letters from Hamlet, the key component that the entire plan rests on. Horatio delivers the letters perfectly, and he does this without letting Claudius know what is happening. Everyone seems to trust him, and not realize he is loyal to only Hamlet. This amount of amiability, and ability to look at a difficult situations and get a solution makes Horatio a “Mary Sue” – someone without any flaws.


Near the end of the play, Horatio advises Hamlet on what to do. He warns Hamlet that the entire setup with Hamlet fighting Laertes is a trap, but Hamlet doesn’t listen to him. Horatio demonstrates that he knows the future, or that he is very intelligent. Then, when everyone is dying, he offers to commit suicide as well. This is a huge moment. What kind of friend would willingly die, when everyone is so young? There were many rational decisions that Horatio could have made at this point, as he had demonstrated in the past. Horatio instead does exactly what Hamlet tells him to do, and makes sure that Hamlet’s voice is heard from beyond the grave in the choosing of the next king of Denmark.


Throughout Hamlet, we see Horatio and Hamlet’s relationship. The relationship appears to never change, but instead it is revealed to us through the many actions and the amount of trust Hamlet has in Horatio. Horatio is loved by all, but he only appears to care for Hamlet. His unquestionable loyalty, and his extreme intelligence make him a perfect man, someone who proves essential to Hamlet’s quest.

2008 Open Prompt Analysis


Author 1:

This author does change what they think the thesis is from the beginning to the end. They initially talk about foil and how they influence each other, but end up talking about how Huang influences just Lindo by making her stronger. There is also a lot of plot summary thrown in. While that is good and illustrates the point, the author could have talked more about the points they were trying to make rather than showing us the points, leaving it to the reader to figure it out. Lastly, I also felt that Huang wasn’t shown as being too much of an opposite with Lindo. Lindo is discussed too much rather than equally. Other than those few things, I think that this author did a really good job of answering the question. They had good answers, and although I disagree a little in the way they approached them, they did it well.


Author 2:

The thesis is very strong and talks about how a minor character (the father) causes Celie to feel terrible for the rest of her life. The first body paragraph tackles Maslow’s pyramid of needs, which is a strong literary argument. However, the paragraph starts more and more to explore how females in general are oppressed rather than staying on topic with the relationship between Celie and her father. The paragraphs start to focus more and more on feminism and being a strong female. While I don’t disagree with the sentiment, I feel like the author should have talked more about the relationship and how it makes an impact on the book, rather than talking about the plot and how the main character grows and learns. I don’t really think that the main character and her father are foils, since they are antagonists with some stuff in common. If they bounce ideas off each other, it might make more sense.


Author 3:

This essay starts out making a claim that Baba and Hassan were foils because they were very similar. Foils are people who are different, and whose relationship is shown to be important. While this relationship was important, Amir often said that Baba and Hassan were similar, that Baba wanted a son more like Hassan. The first body paragraph supports the illogical thesis and introduction, so the author knows how to draw from evidence. They could have stated their point more clearly, and used more than one example to make a point. The third body paragraph moves onto differences between the two. I feel like this should have been explored more in order to have a much better essay that could have answered the prompt a whole lot better. The conclusion has very little to do with the thesis, and could work to answer a different prompt much better. Overall, a rather weak essay.

Hamlet Final Summary and Analysis

Shakespeare is the author, lived during the 1500’s to 1600’s. He was a famous playwright, and had his own theatre that he wrote his plays for.


The setting is Elsinore, in Denmark. It is set during a similar time to Shakespeare, or before him.


Plot: Hamlet is a moody teenager, whose father recently died. His father’s ghost appears to him, and informs Hamlet that the current king (Hamlet’s uncle) killed King Hamlet, and that Hamlet should get revenge. Hamlet vows revenge. His family worries about him, especially his recently remarried (to his uncle) mother. His mother and his uncle seek out Hamlet’s old friends to spy on him and tell them what is wrong. Hamlet realizes that his friends are trying to spy on him. He also comes up with a plan to make sure that his uncle did actually kill his father, to verify what the ghost said. This plan involves a play that mimics what the ghost told Hamlet, and then watching the King’s reaction. Once the King reacts unfavorably, Hamlet starts making plans to kill him. Hamlet kills Polonius (mistaking him for his uncle) while talking with his mother. He is then sent to England, but he escapes and sends his old friends (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) to their deaths. He returns, realizes his girlfriend committed suicide, and attacks her surviving brother. They all head back to the castle, where his uncle and the brother are poisoning everything. A fencing match takes place, to kill Hamlet, but Hamlet poisons the brother, who poisons Hamlet. The queen drinks a cup of poison and dies. Hamlet makes the King drink poison so he dies. Hamlet hands the throne off to another prince (Young Fortinbras) before dying.



Hamlet – A young teenager who studies in Germany. His father just died, and he feels a strong sense of revenge against his uncle who killed him. He is quite intelligent, and driven.


Claudius – The younger brother of King Hamlet. He is shown to be quite cunning and deceitful, willing to kill his nephew to hold on to the throne with no challengers. He loves Hamlet’s mother, and never fights people in person.


Laertes – Overprotective older brother. He loves his family, and is popular with the inhabitants of the castle. Willing to do anything for his honor, including poison. Maybe easy to manipulate, or Claudius is really good at manipulating.


Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother and queen of Denmark. She loved King Hamlet dearly, and according to Hamlet had a very happy relationship with him. She makes Hamlet very angry by remarrying, and we see that she has very few doubts or regrets. She does speak with Hamlet before he sets off to England, where she agrees to keep his secrets, and starts to acknowledge that she may have done something wrong. While she loves Claudius, she kept her son’s secret from him.


Narrative Voice – Since it is a play, the only narrative voice are the directions, which are brief, and to the point. Very impersonal.

Style – Point of view is everyone, since it is a play, but we get more asides from Hamlet. Since Hamlet is the main character, we get more info from him, but he is not telling the story. Tone feels more dramatic than other Shakespeare plays. Lots of comparisons and flowy writing. Because many people are royalty, Shakespeare gives them blank verse lines, which are usually iambic pentameter. The tone is also serious, since this is a tragedy. There are lots of symbols. Main ones would be the poison that is used, and the “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Another symbol would be the deaths of the people representing the way royalty would be dying and losing power all across Europe.


Quotes: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Meaning is to show how a supernatural being can influence us all. Also relates to the poison I mentioned earlier, death, corruption, and decay.


“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” – this is rather interesting because it is being told to someone who ends up causing many different deaths. Despite the number of people that died due to Hamlet’s actions, his best friend Horatio still believes that Hamlet will go to heaven.


In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we are taught that inaction is the weakest and worst thing that man can do.


Setting – Hamlet is literally a prince. His job is to do things for his people. By neglecting that duty, he dooms Denmark. Plot – Hamlet fails to act on Claudius, preferring to make sure and dilly dally, before making too many bad decisions leading to his death. There is a lot of symbolism (that I saw) with not doing your job (inaction) and something being rotten in the state of Denmark. I can’t think of any imagery that supports this thesis, but the image of Claudius praying while Hamlet doesn’t attack him is fixated in my mind.