Richard II = Edward II = Prospero = Duke Vincentio = Henry VI = every useless boss you have ever worked for,
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 …
These famous passages become a little daunting, because hey, what can you say that hasn’t already been said in the past four-hundred years? Yet, as an educator, you have to step up to the plate: after all, this is what I encourage, almost demand, my students to do, isn’t it? We give them something which is one of the foundations upon which our literature and culture is built, and entice them with the promise of better marks for originality.
So here are some personal views on Romeo and Juliet’s meeting, and then I look for something else to say on pieces of this short scene that receive somewhat less attention.
Thankfully, we can’t have a third series of The Hollow Crown, but what about adaptations of the Roman plays?
If there’s one thing my (currently stuttering) Pony Tail Shakespeare read-through project has given me so far, it’s a greater love for the History Plays. Once the project is (eventually) finished, I’m looking forward to reading them again merely for pleasure.
‘You will, generally, be rewarded for originality, but the crazier your argument is, the better your reasoning should be’.
Originally intended as a confidence-builder for the chronically-tentative, it’s become a cliché in my teaching that ‘in English, there’s no such thing as a wrong answer’. Increasingly, though, and especially at A Level, I’m finding it necessary to qualify that empowering notion.Perhaps students were getting a little too emboldened, as we’ll see below.Just as Squealer in Animal Farm reminds us that ‘Some animals are more equal than others’, some answers are – obviously – better than others. [a]
Almost organically, as I refined the concept, it came to be known as The Continuum of Plausibility™.I’ve been using the term here, off and on, for a while now without properly explaining it, so here goes.