“Aristotle, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern walk into a bar…..”

• Exam 3 does not involve outside research; you need only use the following sources:
• “Hamlet”
• “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”
• “Aristotle’s Poetics and the problems it creates” PowerPoint
• The video “The Poetics: Aristotle’s Poetics, Greek Tragedy, and Catharsis”

Prompt for Exam 3
“Aristotle, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern walk into a bar…..”

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What would Hamlet say about Aristotle’s definition of tragedy? Was that his experience in trying to avenge his father and answer the question “who are you”/“to be or not to be”?
What would Rosencrantz and Guildenstern say about Aristotle’s definition of comedy? Was that their experience in trying to spy on their friend Hamlet and answer the question “what are you going to do about it”?

In exploring these questions, it is essential to include the following:
• Aristotle’s ideas of tragedy and comedy
• The problematic definition of catharsis

For this exam, you are free to write a dialogue between the characters, but remember that the characters will still have to provide EXAMPLES from sources to explain their experiences. That is to say, Aristotle must give his definitions of tragedy and comedy; Hamlet is going to refer to “Hamlet” to say he had experience that matched or didn’t match Aristotle’s ideas, same thing with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. And through an act of magical realism, we can assume that they all read our Discussion Boards, and watched/listened to the PowerPoint and video. Bonus round if Plato shows up and gives his two cents on art in general!


You may write this as a discussion of how “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” do and do not follow Aristotle’s definitions of tragedy and comedy. Again, bonus round for working Plato in there.

How to do well on Exam 3:
• A good answer will draw upon examples from all available sources.
• Since this is a short paper, a good answer only needs one important example from each of the sources. Choose wisely, though! For example, if talking about Hamlet’s inability to act, him debating going back to school is not as important as him debating the nature of revenge as he looms over Claudius.

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