The Tempest: GCSE Model Essay 2 for Y11s

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“I’ll bear him no more sticks but follow thee, Thou wondrous man.”  Photo by ME at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2012.

If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.

MY CLASS WILL BE TAKING THEIR GCSE PAPER ON THE TEMPEST THIS MONDAY.       I WISH THEM THE VERY BEST OF LUCK!

It is this lack of intelligence, or of understanding, that propels him towards making the same offers to Stephano as he did to Prospero twelve years earlier – a move which led to his enslavement.  Sections of the audience would approve of the ways in which Caliban is easily taken advantage of.  John Hawkins started the slave trade with his first voyage in 1562, just two years before Shakespeare was born.  For many Europeans, blacks were simply slaves.

GCSE MODEL Essay based on AQA specimen question paper, and marked as follows:

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The Tempest: GCSE Model Essay for my Y11s

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I took this photo at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2012 … 🙂

If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.

Now that he has everyone in his power, we might expect him to use his magic spitefully and violently.  Interestingly, this scene acts as a kind of volta in the plot: the conversation changing Prospero’s philosophy and actions forever.

GCSE Essay based on AQA specimen question paper, and marked as follows:

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A Kingship Paradigm

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Fig 1:  A Paradigm for Kingship or Leadership

Abstract for the busy:  this paradigm crystallises or articulates my recent thinking about kingship/leadership as it applies in Shakespeare’s plays and, I increasingly suspect, beyond.  It gained critical mass after teaching Richard III at Key Stage 5 (Age 16-17) in Autumn 2016, where I found myself returning again and again to questions of Legitimacy, Authority and Dynasty, in plotting not just Richard’s journey and motives, but Richmond’s and, in fact, Queen Elizabeth’s. 

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Richard III: KS5 essay 2

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If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.

Without superstition, Richard III would have been reduced to a relatively mundane and propaganda-tinged retelling of the familiar Tudor ascent to power. Shakespeare’s skilful exploitation of the complex Elizabethan mix of secular and religious beliefs, via Margaret, transforms the play into compelling drama for contemporary and modern audiences.

Question: 

“The population of Renaissance England was, by modern standards, fervently religious.  ‘Atheist’ was an insult too extreme and too ludicrous to be taken seriously.”  (Lisa Hopkins and Matthew Steggle: Renaissance Literature and Culture, 2006)

Despite an unwavering belief in the Christian God, the early modern period was remarkably superstitious.  Explore how and why Shakespeare uses superstition in the early parts of Richard III (Acts 1-2)  Indicative length: 1,000 words.

Success Criteria:

AO1:  Personal Response (30%)

AO2:  Analysis of Writer’s Methods (40%)

AO3:  Understanding of the role of and influence of Context (10%)

AO5:  Exploring different interpretations of the text (20%)

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Richard III: KS5 essay 1

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If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.

This essay was set as the first assignment for my KS5 class this year – on the OCR specification.  Student submissions were therefore marked on the following criteria:

Richard’s unscrupulous ambition and misogyny is balanced, in Act 1 scenes 1 and 2, by his facility with words and mischievous, almost devilish sense of humour.

AO1:  Personal Response (30%)

AO2:  Analysis of Writer’s Methods (40%)

AO3:  Understanding of the role and influence of Context (10%)

AO5:  Exploring different interpretations of the text (20%)

There is as much to admire as there is to loathe about Richard.

How far and in what ways do you agree with this statement? [Act 1, scenes 1/2: 1,000 words]

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