The Long Goodbye …

BH long goodbye

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.  (Brutus, Julius Caesar:  Act V, scene I)

This morning, at 9am, my Y11 students sit their first GCSE English exam – 1 hour, 45 minutes on The Tempest and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four … and so begins the ‘long goodbye’ …

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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 plague on both your houses …

BH The Black Death 2‘When ignorant men are overwhelmed by forces totally beyond their control and their understanding it is inevitable that they will search for some explanation within their grasp.  When they are frightened and badly hurt then they will seek someone on whom they can be revenged. […]  What was needed, therefore, was a suitable target for the indignation of the people, preferably a minority group, easily identifiable, already unpopular, widely scattered and lacking any powerful protector.’

Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, (The Folio Society, London: 1997)  Cover image:  Francis Mosley

The plague was too immediate, too visceral, for Shakespeare to include more than a passing reference to it in his plays.  In Romeo and Juliet it’s a factor in the tragedy, but at a safe distance.

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Shakespeare’s ‘Salad Days’. Expectations of HVI part 1

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Only 6 years between these albums:  less time than between Richard III and Macbeth …

‘Please Please Me’ or ‘Abbey Road’?

‘Surfin’ Safari’ or ‘Pet Sounds’?

‘Hangin’ Tough’ or ‘The Block’?

[please note – I’ve only ever listened to just four of those albums.  Promise.  I hope you can infer which they are!]

As I approach the first monthly instalment of my Arden Amble, what are my expectations from a work I know relatively little about?  Why start the journey of a thousand steps with a month reading and blogging about Henry VI Part 1?

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