Forensic Friday #018: 1HIV II.iv

Play Extempore

If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work (I.ii)

Erm … no!

Prince Hal is one of those annoying, frankly very boring people who simply don’t have sufficient imagination to have hobbies. The ones who pine away six months into hard-earned retirement, or keep coming into work after you thought you’d finally got rid of them, to ‘keep their hand in, and check the youngsters haven’t stuffed it up yet.’ AND they no longer contribute towards the coffee fund!

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Forensic Friday (#017): 1 Henry IV, I.iii

the-red-pill-or-the-blue-pill

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” [a]

This one is, I think, for my friend, Joe Gifford.

Back in the heady days of the beginning of this project, I likened close reading to autopsies and archaeology.  Today, I present you with a sexy new metaphor: close reading IS the red pill in The Matrix

No, really – let me persuade you. Continue reading “Forensic Friday (#017): 1 Henry IV, I.iii”

Forensic Friday (016): 1 Henry IV, I.ii

celebrate-thumbs-up
Never mind the students – today’s the year’s climax for the TEACHERS!

By the time you read this I will be gone.  Long gone.  And I won’t be back for, ooh, six weeks.  School’s out for summer!

Well, we got no class
And we got no principals
We ain’t got no intelligence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes [a]

I can almost hear Falstaff singing this, not Alice Cooper

Don’t knock teacher holidays until you have tried the profession for a few years.  You’ll soon realise that half-term weeks are misnomers, and should be labelled ‘admin / sleep’ weeks, and large chunks of the longer holidays are eaten up by marking or planning.  We’re not actually that much better off than other professions when it comes to quality time pretending your job doesn’t exist.

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Forensic Friday (015): 1 Henry IV: I.i

subtitled:  “don’t shoot the messenger, please …

Welsh Women Dress
Bronwen and Ffion played it cool whilst Myfanwy reached under the table for her specially sharpened sugar tongs …

Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.  (Macbeth, IV, iii)

It’s a small episode, a tiny mouthful in the gargantuan feast that is 1 Henry IV.

But somehow the sexual disfigurement of the bodies of dead soldiers sticks in my mind, jostling for position amongst the bawdiness and burlesque, the heroics and hubris, the pathos and the pageantry.

It felt like a suitably challenging subject for this instalment of Forensic Friday, as I move away from exam texts for a while …

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Forensic Friday 014: 3 Henry VI (III,ii)

skywalker-4

To understand Richard, Duke of Gloucester, you must know him.  Really know him …

And to know him, I think it’s essential we don’t look at his eponymous play in isolation.  Think of it as a season finale.  And like Margaret of Anjou, Richard’s character has been developing towards this climax – in my read-through, I’ve likened his journey to that of Anakin Skywalker from ‘freckled whelp’ to Sith Lord …

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Forensic Friday 013

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, scene i

merchant-of-venice-9

Unlucky for some?

Life’s pretty poor for Shylock as is, but his world falls apart when his flighty daughter elopes with a ne’er-do-well Christian lad, taking his fortune to boot.  Famously, Act III scene i sees the dam of his frustration and resentment overwhelmed, leaving him only the potential satisfaction of revenge against his mortal enemy, Antonio.

But why is Shylock’s speech so memorably powerful?

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Forensic Friday 012: Richard III, I,iii

Margaret-of-Anjou-463969669x-58b74be75f9b588080559d02
SEEMS like a nice girl …

And we’re back with Forensic Fridays

Partly because I’m teaching Richard III to a new A Level class, partly because my exam class will benefit, should they ever visit (you know who you are), and partly because yes, they are fun.

You can see the full rules here, but if you’ve been before, the task is to write a prize-winning forensic analysis of a very short extract in just 250 words, working to OCR’s mark-scheme in order to provide some models for my students.

In this passage, I returned to the dramatic moment when deposed Queen Margaret of Anjou, devastated by the killings of her son and then her husband (within 17 days, historically), calls down the heavens to curse Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who in the Henry VI cycle did what had to be done.  It’s a very tense moment …

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