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

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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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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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The Tempest: GCSE Model Essay for my Y11s

BH CSF Ariel 74728
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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PTS 04/018 It’s Not You … It’s Me

BH christopher sly

The Taming of the Shrew (Induction)

For a while now, it’s been a vague ambition of mine to catalogue, mind map, or in some other way classify Shakespeare’s comedy, both in the comedic plays and elsewhere.  In doing so I AM mindful (for those who know their SF) of the Asimov short, ‘Jokester’ (1956), where finally getting an answer as to why humans laugh results in humour dying forever …

Still, I’m always and increasingly drawing intertextual links between and beyond Shakespeare’s plays, and this is what strikes me about what Arden calls the ‘Induction’ – the Christopher Sly frame.  It’s a cousin, maybe an ancestor, of the Rabelaisean idea of ‘Carnival’ that appears later on in:

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 002

BH Andolosia in Prison
NO-ONE bites their thumb at Mr Shakespeare …

It’s not just online, in the hallowed halls of the BBC, that we find Crimes Against Shakespeare

Oh no!

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PTS 03/017: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

BH DavidBowie-portrait
Is it me, or would Bowie have made a terrific Richard?

Henry VI part III, Act III

RICHARD: ‘I can add colours to the chameleon,

Change shapes with Proteus for advantages’  (III.ii.191-192)

I’ll come back to Bowie’s song when I finally hit Richard III in August, because when I revisited the lyrics, I couldn’t avoid staring thoughtfully for a while.  I will remind Richard that:

‘And every time I thought I’d got it made,

It seemed the taste was not so sweet.’

Like Bolinbroke in RII, like Macbeth – like almost everyone in Shakespeare, let’s face it – the anticipation, the chase, is far better than the conquest, when it comes to the crown.

In the meantime, nothing seems to stay the same in Act III …

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