Forensic Friday (#08) Edward II: iv, 223-229

‘We’ve had this date from the beginning’ …

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Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh
Sometimes the air crackles as soon as two characters lock eyes … Brando and Leigh had it in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, and I think Marlowe achieves it towards the beginning of Edward II

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Forensic Friday (#07): Edward II, (iv.15-21)

‘Know your place’, the world of literature seems to scream. ‘Or else …’

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Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678):  ‘Phaeton Falling’ … careful he doesn’t land on you!

If there’s anything I enjoy as much as anti-heroes, it’s tales of Promethean over-reachers.

Christopher Marlowe belongs in that category, I believe …

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Cultural Capital 07: Tragedy

We loved a fall from grace as much then as we do now …

BH travolta tragedy
For Christ’s sake, can’t you see I’m busy, Ophelia? Get thee to a nunnery!

[this article first appeared in the in-house magazine I edit for our sixth-form English students]

Tragedy!  When the  feeling’s gone and you can’t go on …

It’s not that long ago that I appalled a class by stating that whilst the death of a pet dog might be ‘quite sad’, it definitely wasn’t ‘tragic’. ^

I definitely spend too much time in the late 16th century!

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QotW: 30 July 2018 (#51)

Marlowe probably DID make a hazard of his head by easing his heart …

BH pulp

The more I read about Marlowe, the more I like and sympathise with him – arrogant, frustrated genius, malcontent, morally questionable, and attention-whore as he may have been.  I sense a kindred spirit: my best friend would say the same about me – perhaps with a lot more arrogance and a lot less genius.  As I get older, I like to think that my moral code is finally begining to crystallise, where it was entirely fluid 25 years ago, but then Marlowe never had the opportunity to mellow …

Increasingly, I see Marlowe as the kind of ‘mis-shapeJarvis Cocker sung about in 1995:

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Forensic Friday (#06): Edward II, i.4-8

Piers Gaveston believes he’s hooked a rich man …

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Andrew Tiernan as Piers Gaveston:  an unsettlingly naked, chittering demon, occupying Edward’s throne (Jarman, 1991)

Episode 6 of Forensic Friday – the rules are here for first-timers – effectively kicks off this summer’s likely obsession with Marlowe.

My OCR A Level students are not obliged to analyse Edward II in this way; perhaps they’ll wonder at the point of today’s exercise.  The point is that you ought to be able to do this – and enjoy the process – for any text, people.  We are, after all, archaeologists of the written word – this is what we do …

Anyway, here’s a tiny extract that speaks volumes about Edward II’s lover and their relationship …

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QotW: 16 July 2018 (#49)

Hot ice and wondrous strange snow: the appetite for articulation …

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Destination 1592 … [a]
Frequently, I ask my class to step into the time machine and join me back in 1592.

Why then?

Conveniently, it’s as close as we can get to dating both Richard III and Edward II, my Key Stage 5 texts.  The other plays I teach at the moment – Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth – follow on from here.

This period was a crucible in which Drama as we know it was being born, alchemically transmuted from the didactic Morality Plays into something fresh and exciting.  With my Marxist critical hat on, if we can understand the contextual elements poured into that cauldron, we can better appreciate and analyse the resultant heady brew.

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Forth, and Fear No Darkness …

“DO panic tomorrow. For 5 minutes. Then dive in.”

BH ride of the rohirrim

Tomorrow is the Year 12 end of year exam …

150 minutes.  Three questions, on Richard III, Edward II, and Tennyson‘s ‘Maud‘.  And despite my best efforts, my class have been increasingly panicked, increasingly convinced that a ‘U’ grade will result in their being kicked off the course.  Most of my free periods this week have been taken up in reassurance and revision.

It’s been contagious:

Open your ears! For who could possibly block them when loud Rumor speaks? (2HIV)

And it’s been unhelpful.  For a certain type of student, fear of failure is the biggest barrier they have to succeeding.  Whoever propagated this ‘you’re getting kicked out’ myth needs a kick in the codpiece.

One of the latest things I asked my students to consider was the contrast in pre-battle speeches between Richard and Richmond.  Which inspired me to email them my own, a short while ago …

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