QotW (#85) 12 August 2019

shakespeare map

Particularly when teaching writing, I’ve often compared a text to a map.  My thoughts generally run like this:

When your reader lands on a fresh page of prose, they haven’t got a clue what landscape they are standing on; it’s up to us as writers to orientate them, and our language forms the contour lines and the key to the world we are mapping out for them.  We have to make careful decisions about what and how much to show – how far they can see; how quickly they can recognise signs, symbols and the direction of travel.  We need to contextualise what they’re reading, even if that is the relationship between this page and the previous one, or this paragraph and the one before it, because context is key to avoiding the dizzy nausea that can turn a reader off.

Conversely, when teaching close reading, it’s all very well spotting WHAT a writer is trying to do.  By the time pupils hit KS3 at Y7 they can all spot a simile: a symbol on the map.  But how many students, even when we get up to the heights of Y13 can really read the map, talk about WHY the simile was employed; WHY that particular comparison was chosen?

Context, in it’s broader sense, is everything

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PTS 015/093: Man-Crush alert!

Hotspur Kate
Joe Armstrong and Michelle Dockery

PTS read-through:  1 Henry 4 Act II, scene iii

How can anyone, male or female, gay or straight, NOT fall for Harry Hotspur?

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QotW (#84): 29 July 2019

armada gods breath
‘God blew and they were scattered’

You almost feel sorry for the Spanish …

Today marks the day when the undeniably mighty Armada, reeling from a night attack by fireships and blocked from retreating down the Channel, was pummelled by English ships and scattered northwards by storms.  Unable to regroup, they tried – and many failed – to get home the hard way, via Scotland and Ireland.

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(QotW) #83: 22 July 2019

It’s easy to forget that Shakespeare pre-dates social media …

 

pacino de niro heat
‘No matter what, you will not get in my way …’

‘We’re sitting here like a couple regular fellas.  You do what you do.  I do what I gotta do.  And now that we have been face-to-face, if I am there and I got to put you away?

(pause)

I won’t like it.  But, if it’s you, or some poor bastard whose wife you’re going to turn into a widow, brother, you are gonna go down.’ [a]

What if Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots had met … ?

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PTS 015/091: The Man of a Thousand Faces

lon chaney
Lon Chaney jr trailblazes Bilbo Baggins, Sherlock Holmes, Pennywise, and Forrest Gump

1 Henry IV Act I scene ii is, really, all about that devastating soliloquy in which Hal channels Lon Chaney jr.

But before that, I want to have a word about … EXPOSITION.

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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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PTS 015/090: Crusade My Arse

henry iv jeremy irons

1 Henry IV:  Act I, scene i

It’s almost impossible to check in my earlier hostility to Henry Bolinbroke at the door; I take grim satisfaction at the suggestion that he’s ‘shaken’, or ‘wan with care’ as the play opens. [a]  He deserves it.

Not that I believe him …

Actually, looking back, I promised to crucify you (Henry) at the end of Richard II … OK, here goes.

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