Golden Dogberries

BH Dogberry 4.png

Masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass …

Now is the time.  This is the place.

I will be regularly awarding Golden Dogberries for “extraordinary student contributions to the existing body of work on Shakespeare / EMP”.  Answers, in fact, that the much-loved constable would be proud of.

It’s genuinely remarkable, occasionally bordering on the mind-boggling, that some of these students lose all common sense and/or familiarity with their mother tongue for just one module in the year’s studies: their Shakespeare one.  None of these students are second-language English (EAL).

Entries are anonymised, and meant affectionately.  The initials are codified so that I can look back and giggle in a few years’ time.  Not all of them are students I personally teach, but they are all students whose work I have marked as part of my day job.  I hope you’ll enjoy your notoriety.  BUT … if you recognise your work, and want your contribution removed for any reason, just drop me a line.

February 2019: Much Ado About Nothing (Year 8)

Student FH:  “Shakespeare wrote his plays in anaerobic pentameter.”

October 2018:  Edward II (Year 12)

Student NK:  “Edward says, “Cyclops hammers”, it could mean that its fake as well, because a cyclops is just a myth, it’s a made-up thing, so I like how he’s refereed his love to a cyclops, because he might think that the love between them two is not real.”

July 2018:  Macbeth (Year 9)

Student OL:  “The phrase ‘To cry Hold, Hold’ means that she wants to cry about something, but she doesn’t want people to find out the she’s about to cry.”

Student BP:  “‘womens breasts’ would make the audience feel shocked that a women would talk about that.”

Student TR:  “It [Lady Macbeth crying Hold, Hold] makes me feel extremely happy to read the book of Macbeth it’s been interesting and makes me extrordinairly[sic] excited to do this work.”  No extra marks for giddy engagement with Shakespeare, sadly …

Richard III (Year 9)

Student DG:  “Also when he says ‘let him thank me’ he is also heavily trying to persuade to make himself feel and look like a hero selfishly.”

Student CL:  “In act 1 scene 1 Richard seems to be helpless so he thinks that he will Machiavellia and murder people to get his way.”

Student NB:  “Richard says ‘your bed chamber’.  This is well dodgy because he’s chatting up a woman in the same room as her husband who he’s just murdered.”

Student CM: “Shakespear[sic] presents Richard by making out he’s a villain.  I know this because it says ‘I am determined to prove a villain.’ This means he wants to become a villain.’

Student SM:  “This shows Richard can speak kind words to whoah the lady.”

Student SR:  “Shakespeare also presents Richard in the speech as ‘subtle, false and treacherous’ to make him sound subtle, false, and treacherous.”

June 2018:  Richard III (Year 9)

Student TC:  “The iambic pentameter has been broken in this line because Margaret’s furry has taken over.”

(Year 12)

Student SB:  “‘Chop’ his head refers to execution, which has very negative connotations.’

Student RJ: (on Y12 Mock exam script)  “I didn’t do Coriolanus. Wait … Am I supposed to do the play we did in class? [Richard III] I think I am … whoops.”

April 2018:  Edward II (Year 12)

Student VF: “this attitude is reflected in today’s society, a woman is either too fat or too skinny, a tart or too fridged.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Year 8)

Student ID:  “Shakespeare presents Helena in the whole play as a winnie[sic] twat.  As demetrius trys to escape her she loves him the more.  This is how she’s a winnie twat.”

Student HK:  “He [Shakespeare] makes her seem like the kind of person you would just want to punch in the face the second you meet her.”

March 2018:  Edward II (Year 13)

Student VT:  “Edward II is one of Shakespeare’s 10 historical plays.” (Conspiracy theorists take note!)

Macbeth (Year 10)

Student FM: “Lady Macbeth is using this as a big emotional black male to persuade her husband.”

Student CB:  “The witches speak like robots.”

Student CN:  “They mention Macbeth and the tone of the sentence makes him seem like the fourth witch.”

July 2017:  Richard III (Year 9)

Student MM:  “By planning to set his brother Clarence and the king in deadly hate the one against the other he [Richard] isn’t helping himself.”

Student RF:  “the noun ‘villain’ in my opinion means he wants to be a villain.”


“My thoughts and feelings on this is like really scared, and it leaves you thinking is he trustworthy?  Will I get killed, and why is he so hunchback?”

Student TF:  “Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy therefore the readers will not feel as intimidated because we know Richard isn’t going to hurt the audience.”

Student ON:  “In the century of Shakespeare there has to be a killing in some view, the knowing speech says though out [sic] Shakespeare’s plays.”


“The word ‘villain’ describes Richard a lot! and the way Shakespeare uses this word through out [sic] the play makes us very fond of him.”


“As you can see, Richard is gaining and demanding into top royalty.”

Student OL:  “The ‘G’ is important because all the characters in the play think it is George the duke of Clarins.”

Student IB:  “If you think you hated Richard before, think again.  This [when he woos Princess Elizabeth] is when you will despise Richard III and say that he should be banished to hell for all eternity.”  (not the usual dogberry – but strong feelings, a little scarily expressed)

June 2017:  Richard III (Year 9)

Student ON:   “I think readers who are going to read this will remember the first quotation will think again that it already has been used before with others!?  Because the context “off with his head!” is very reminding to others in the pass.”

Student CB:  “Richard appears like this in the play because he has killed other people.  Appearing determining with this same quote as he will do anything to be royal.”


June 2017:  Macbeth (Year 10)

Student IS:  “The quotation ‘What’s the boy Malcolm?  Was he not born of woman?’  This shows that Macbeth does not like people who change gender as he sees them as cowards.

May 2017:  Macbeth (Year 10)

Student TK:  “Shakespeare uses language to present the characters of the witches as aliens.  Macbeth when seeing the witches asks ‘What are you?’ and Banquo says ‘that seem not like the inhabitants of the earth’.  This makes the witches seem like aliens, as nobody refers to them as humans.  Focussing on ‘what’, this shows that he cannot even guess what they are, which shows how weird the witches are to him.”

March 2017:  Macbeth (Year 10)

Student EM:  “At the time the play was written Scottland [sic] was very dark, wet and boggy.”

February 2017:  Much Ado About Nothing (Year 8)

Student NK:  “Hero is dead due to all the grief, but is still alive as it was due to a broken heart.”

Student NK: (diary entry in character of Claudio on his wedding day):  “When I find that fat, selfish cow I am going to punch or beat him in any way so he feels the pain I felt.” [note to student – violence against women is never acceptable.  IF this is what you are suggesting – who can say?  Unless you become POTUS]

Student DM: (diary entry in character of Hero on her wedding day): “the priest asked us: ‘if either of you know any inward independent why you should not be married?”

January 2017:  Richard III (Year 12)

Student CH:  “Clearly, the play is designed to be acted.”

Student CH:  “This is where the soliloquy takes place.  This is essentially an avid and personal conversation, though one-sided.”

Student OS:  “His ambition and eloquence advocated allies and rid of foes, albeit all foes or obstacles to the throne were eliminated with deadly means.”

Student OS:  “In the original performances plays were long and the audience weren’t cultured enough to sit through an entire performance without tuning out some of the parts.  The steady beat was to keep them on their toes”

6 thoughts on “Golden Dogberries”

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