Shakespeare has been dead for hundreds of years, but his plays and poetry are living on in classrooms and one video screens today. Students may find Shakespeare’s language somewhat difficult to understand, but they are truly interested in learning more about the man and his Elizabethan world. This leads many instructors to assign research papers based on popular plays like MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar. Even though the assignments might be challenging for students, the outcome of researching and writing the paper is highly rewarding.
If you are looking for topics for the different plays, you have many options. Students can look into the actual plays, including the characters, settings, stage directions, and behaviors. Students often enjoy learning about the driving forces behind characters like MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, as well as the witches and their purpose in the story. If you do choose to write about the characters, you should know that over the years, student have written several research papers and essays about them. It will be in your best interest to write something unique.
The historical significance of the plays is always an interesting topic. The plays are works of fiction, even the historical plays like the Henry plays or the Richard plays, but nearly every play has some foundation in history. Students are quite interested in learning what events and real people actually inspired Shakespeare to craft these plays the way he did. Students can always look for the behaviors of the real people and how they compare to behaviors of his actual characters.
Another interesting choice of topics is a comparison between Shakespeare’s tragedies like MacBeth and Hamlet to the ancient Greek tragedies like Oedipus and Antigone. Students will be pleasantly surprised by what they learn about the inspiration that Sophocles and Euripides had on the Shakespeare. Students can investigate the role of the chorus and the similarities that they had with the classic Greek chorus, too.
Students are also usually quite interested in the lifestyles of the different types of people who populated the Elizabethan world. Since most writers write about what they know, it would be appropriate for students to investigate the similarities of the characters in the plays to the people of Shakespeare’s world. From the aristocracy to the general public, Shakespeare drew on real life to manipulate his characters’ actions and speech.
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