Forensic Friday (#11)

Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy …

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Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii (1971): “You’ve seen the ring she had on? Well, allegedly, that was given to her by her fiancé when she was eighteen, and he jilted her, and she hasn’t had it off since!”

Maybe it’s growing up in the 70s, but I enjoy an infantile dirty joke as much, if not more, than the next fellow.  They don’t always work in the plays, or perhaps audiences are now vastly more sophisticated: I can imagine that even the weakest ones would have had them rolling in the aisles at The Globe.

This week, I decided to work my favourite Shakespearean knob-gag … ooh err!

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Forensic Friday (#10)

Richard II = Edward II = Prospero = Duke Vincentio = Henry VI = every useless boss you have ever worked for,

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Richard’s return from Ireland is NOT a happy one …

Richard II appears on my reading list for Edward II each year.  It’s not just me – this is what Jonathan Bate, who I recently gushed about, has to say:

Richard II’s relationship to Edward II is so obvious that it is not very interesting. The structure of the two plays is identical: the King is surrounded by flatterers and pitted against an assemblage of nobles with vested interests of their own, then isolated and uncrowned, stripped of his royal identity, thus forced to discover his inner self by means of a supple, reflective soliloquy delivered whilst humiliatingly in prison. In each play the Queen is pushed to the margins in part because of the king’s homoerotic leanings. Marlowe is bolder than Shakespeare in his explicit portrayal of the homosexuality and his neat device of joining the Queen with the rebels in revenge. [a]

It should be easy to find something in Richard which’ll look familiar to my Edward students, right?  Let’s have a go …

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Forensic Friday (#09): Edward II (iv.400-407)

Without any protection from his class background, Gaveston’s fall was always going to be fatal.

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Alex Honnold – image: Jimmy Chin

Meet Alex Honnold:

‘history’s greatest ever climber in the free solo style, meaning he ascends without a rope or protective equipment of any kind.'[a]

Just researching a picture for this post made me feel a little nauseous …

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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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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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Forensic Friday (#05): RIII – V.v.61-65

Richard III is fooling very few of us with his inclusive pronouns …

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I’ve had to take a week out, basically, through pressures of work.  It could easily have extended into a fortnight, but to paraphrase Lord Foul – the Sauron-style character in Stephen Donaldon‘s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – I am ‘stubborn yet’.

So, where were we?

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