by William Shakespeare
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Romeo & Juliet: Act V, Scene III
- William Shakespeare
- c. 1593
Act V, Scene III contains the tragic demise of Shakespeare’s famous, star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.Pair "Romeo & Juliet: Act V, Scene III" with Hamlet's "'To Be Or Not To Be' Soliloquy" and ask students to compare these two Shakespearean tragedies. How do their treatment of major themes differ? Do they share any similarities other than form?
- c. 335 BCE
In this excerpt from Poetics, Aristotle offers a definition of tragedy, as well as several examples and non-examples of the genre.Pair Hamlet's "'To Be or Not to Be' Soliloquy" with "On Tragedy" from Aristotle's Poetics to spark an in-depth discussion about literary tragedy. Based on this passage, does Shakespeare's Hamlet appear to fit Aristotle's definition of tragedy?
Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison
- Michel Martin
In this National Public Radio interview, Professor Laura Bates discusses her decision to teach Shakespeare in a maximum security prison as a way of educating inmates—and discovering new insights into the Bard’s drama.Pair "Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison" with Hamlet's "'To Be or Not To Be' Soliloquy" and ask students to draw conclusions about what we can learn from studying Shakespeare. Why might it be valuable for a prisoner to read this passage from Hamlet?
The Tempest 4.1.156-8
- Gary Soto
Gary Soto begins this poem with a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to delve into the harsh reality of death and how it is dealt with.Pair Hamlet's “'To Be or Not To Be' Soliloquy"with Gary Soto’s “The Tempest 4.1.156-8” and have students compare a classic Shakespeare text with a more modern spin on his writing. Then, lead students in a discussion on the theme of death. How does Hamlet face death? How does this compare to Soto’s theme?
“Frailty, Thy Name is Woman!”
- William Shakespeare
In a soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his rage towards his mother due to recent choices she has made.Pair “‘To Be or Not To Be’ Soliloquy” with “Frailty, Thy Name is Woman” and ask students to analyze Hamlet’s perspective based on both excerpts. How does each text develop Hamlet’s perspective and help students better understand his character? Ask students to consider his tone in each soliloquy, and analyze how the language he uses develops his tone in each speech.
Shakespeare had fewer words, but doper rhymes, than rappers
- Hugh Craig
In the informational text, “Shakespeare had fewer words, but doper rhymes, than rappers,” Hugh Craig discusses the myth surrounding William Shakespeare’s vocabulary, and what he was able to do with words.Pair “‘To Be Or Not To Be’ Soliloquy” with “Shakespeare had fewer words, but doper rhymes, than rappers” to provide students with an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Ask students to discuss the variety of words present in the excerpt. How would students describe Shakespeare’s vocabulary in this excerpt? What clever metaphors does Shakespeare use to explore the themes of life and death?
A Prayer for the Living
- Ben Okri
In Ben Okri’s “A Prayer for the Living,” adapted from a longer work, a narrator describes the search for loved ones among the dead.Pair “‘To Be or Not to Be’ Soliloquy” with “A Prayer for the Living” to provide students with an excerpt from Hamlet, in which Hamlet contemplates his own death. How do Hamlet and the narrator in “A Prayer for the Living” view their own life? What about their death? How do Hamlet and the narrator describe death?