PTS 05/030: There’s nothing ill …

BH mirror mirror
Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act IV

Thus far, I feel like I’ve been quite objective about the play, glossing over the obvious errors about travelling by boat between land-locked cities, etc. I’m not one to lionise Shakespeare (whatever my other half thinks), but nor am I interested in joining the current fad I see online for ‘dissing’ him.

Having said that, Act IV begins with a ‘mote to trouble the mind’s eye‘, though – and more on it later, but Act V trumps even this episode. What am I talking about?

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PTS 04/024: How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

BH how many fingers
“‘Four!  Five!  Four!  Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!”  George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Ponytail Shakespeare:  The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV

KATHERINA:            ‘And be it moon or sun or what you please,

    And if you please to call it a rush-candle,

    Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

PETRUCCIO:              I say it is the moon.

KATHERINA:             I know it is the moon.

PETRUCCIO:              Nay then, you lie; it is the blessed sun.

KATHERINA:            Then God be blest, it is the blessed sun.’

(IV.v.13-19)

I so often say to students (usually when we’re looking at poetry) that you should ‘bring your baggage’ to a work.  It’s one of the things that makes re-reading an unexpected joy, as you arrive at a familiar work with fresh eyes.  The ‘baggage’ can, of course, be life experiences, or other works that you’ve read: regular readers will already know that I have a habit of conflating Caliban, Richard III and Frankenstein’s monster, to talk through a sympathetic lens about those three characters and the nature vs. nurture argument.

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PTS 04/022: Bring forth men-children only …

BH its a boy(Macbeth I.vii.73) 

The Taming of the Shrew:  Act II

Confession time …

I only ever wanted boys, and I have been lucky enought to have two fine sons.  When my oldest son was born, I remember (despite it being half a lifetime ago) literally going weak at the knees for a moment, with joy at the big reveal.  For the younger, the scan was, ahem, rather more obvious (sorry, Lewis!), resulting in a fist pump as soon as we left the room.

Why the preference?

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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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Beat the Teacher (Part 2)

BH memory tricks

Our Y11 (15/16 year old) students have the first of their English Literature GCSE exams on Monday

This is the last year, at my school, when we will (effectively) have autonomy over the texts we teach.  Next year, we will only offer Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet at GCSE.  It sounds like a retrograde move, but what it does ensure – I suppose – is that we have teachers, multiple, who can deliver the texts, both in the classroom and – importantly, considering I am in school today (Sunday) – in revision sessions.  I am largely in school today because I’m the only one who can do The Tempestnobody’s fault but mine, as Led Zeppelin might say.

The AQA specification offers the following texts:

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The Tempest: GCSE Model Essay 2 for Y11s

75025
“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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PTS: 03/019: There can be only one

BH highlander
Don’t make me chop your head off …

Henry VI part III (Act IV)

Edward V, like Edward II, like Richard II, like Macbeth, maybe even like Richard III, seems to think that the crown’s enough.  Whilst there can be only one, physical possession of the golden round really isn’t a given.  Everyone else has to believe you’re king – not just you!

They are but Lewis and Warwick; I am Edward,

Your King and Warwick’s and must have my will. (IV.i.15-16)

That’s all very well, but if it that attitude couldn’t save Julius Caesar:

‘I rather tell you what is to be feared / Than what I fear: for always I am Caesar’ (CAESAR, Julius Caesar I.ii.210-211)

– and he was a dozen times the man you are – then your goose is cooked.  You have married in haste, and now you’re going to repent at leisure.  Frankly, if Richard says so, it’s good enough for me:

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