Suggested Essay Topics The Prince Essays: 1. Discuss Machiavelli on the relationship between the political leader and the citizen. What is the nature of each? What is the responsibility of each in relation to the other? Support with quotes from the texts, interpret them in support of your argument, and cite them properly. You also may wish to demonstrate the similarities and differences by proposing a hypothetical political scenario or issue and discuss how each side would act. 2. Discuss Machiavelli’s views regarding free will. To what extent can historical events be shaped by individuals, and to what extent are such events the consequence of fortune and circumstance? Give examples to illustrate your reading. Civil Disobedience Essays: 1. Thoreau believes that people should not participate in injustice but that they do not have to actively promote a more just world. What is the difference between these two concepts, and why does Thoreau make this moral distinction? Evaluate his position, providing examples. 2. Thoreau asks rhetorically, "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?" How would you answer this question? Is compromise on moral issues a necessary part of living with other people? Hamlet Essays: 1. Argue for Hamlet's sanity or insanity, supporting with key pieces of evidence and interpreting them in order to prove your case. You must also acknowledge how the opposing view would interpret that piece of evidence, and then explain why your interpretation is superior. You must use quotes from the play as your pieces of evidence, and cite them properly in your essay. 2. Does Hamlet “delay” his revenge? If so, why? If not, why? Support with quotes from the text, interpret them in support of your argument, and cite them properly. 3. How does Hamlet change over the course of the play? Support with quotes from the text, interpret them in support of your argument, and cite them properly. Is Hamlet an admirable hero, why or why not? 4. Compare and contrast two characters in the play. For example: Hamlet and Laertes, Ophelia and Gertrude, Polonius and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”, or any two main characters you wish. Tell how they are similar, how they are different, and why these similarities and differences are important to the play. Support with quotes from the text, interpret them in support of your argument, and cite them properly. Texts in Conversation Essays: 1. Discuss Machiavelli’s qualities for a successful Prince. How do both Hamlet and Claudius meet or fall short of these qualities? Which one would make the better Prince? Be sure to consider the theme of “appearances and reality” in both texts, citing specific examples. 2. Discuss Machiavelli on the relationship between Fortune/Providence and human action/free will. Compare and contrast this with Hamlet’s attitude concerning the complexity of action and Divine Providence in the play. Cite at least three concrete examples from the play to support your argument. 3. Compare and contrast Hamlet and Thoreau on the issue of conscience. What role does conscience play in forming human action? 4. You may create your own essay question. The only requirements are that 1) you do not simply re-hash a previous; and 2) you discuss at least 2 of our three texts on your chosen topic.