The Shakespeare courses are structured differently from the other courses in this series. Rather than each lesson focusing on one literary topic (such as character or conflict), each lesson examines various aspects of the play or sonnets (two sonnets are examined in each sonnet lesson). Lessons cover the following works of Shakespeare and topics, some in a general way, and others particular to the plays and/or sonnets:
- Four of Shakespeare’s tragedies read in this order: (Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear)
- Sonnets 5, 6, 73, 97, 18, 29, 30, 18 and 65 (included in this Guide)
- Shakespeare’s life
- Schools of Shakespearean criticism
- Shakespeare’s language (blank verse, irony, soliloquys, bombast, register, stage direction, alliteration, assonance, simile, metaphor, imagery, personification, repetition, puns, antithesis, oxymoron, allusion)
The Student Guide includes comprehension questions, writing exercises, ideas for additional projects, reviews of movies and video-taped theater productions of the plays, reading lists, schedules for using as a semester course or for a full-year course, and a bibliography. Historical context and modern schools of Shakespeare interpretation are also discussed. The answers to comprehension questions are in the Teacher’s Guide. Plays are sold separately and in a pack with the guides.
This course is especially recommended for students who have already taken at least two previous high-school level Lightning Literature courses, who are studying Renaissance history, and who are interested in Shakespeare. These should not be viewed as restrictions; this course can profitably be used by high-school students of any grade regardless of which previous Lightning Literature courses they have completed. Generally speaking, this course is more difficult than the two American Literature courses, Speech, British Christian Literature, and the two British Literature courses and about the same as British Medieval Literature. Much depends on student interest in the material, however.