QotW#76: 13 May 2019

bird fights snake
“… though she be but little, she is fierce”  A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III,ii)

Poor Isabella.

Not just married to Edward II.  Not simply denounced by history as the ‘She Wolf of France‘.  As if all that wasn’t enough, she was relegated to a footnote in last week‘s QotW.

It’s her turn.  Be afraid.

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QotW (#75): 06 May 2019

trafficking

Last week’s pre-exam discussions with Year 13 looked again at how we might adopt a Feminist critical stance to our exam texts.  The fabled AO5, I hear OCR students gasp …

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QotW (#74) 29 April 2019

despair and die

I shall despair; there is no creature loves me,

And if I die no soul shall pity me.  (Richard III: V.iii) [a]

No matter how many times I watch it – with Y9, 12 and 13 classes, or alone – Benedict Cumberbatch can move me to tears, delivering what I think are the saddest lines in Shakespeare.

The saddest lines … by arguably the biggest villain?

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QotW (#73) 22 April 2019

upstart crow shakespeare and marlowe

To begin, a little quiz.  What connects the following texts?

  • Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach (2007)
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson:  ‘Maud’ (1855)
  • Christopher Marlowe: Edward II (1592)
  • William Shakespeare:  Richard III (1592), and

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QotW (#72): 08 April 2019

subtitled: ‘Sir’s rule number 1‘ …

nightwatchman

‘Who’s there?’

‘Nay, answer me.  Stand and unfold yourself.’ [a]

Bernardo and Francisco have a point.  The entire path of the scene is determined by who is on stage.  Think of the ways the conversation could go if instead of Bernardo, another unknown Dane approaches Francisco’s guard-post, or one of Fortinbras’ troops.

From Hamlet to real life, and the idea of decorum – behaving or speaking appropriately to the circumstances and audience.

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QotW (#71): 11 March 2019

Antony Sher as Richard, RSC, 1984
the ‘bottled spider’

It’s nearly a year (where has the time gone?) since I last picked up a book and decided I’d love to get down the pub for a session with the author (and bear in mind I’m still not drinking: day 70 today).  Imagine me, Anthony Sher and Michael Bogadanov setting the Shakespearean world to rights over a few scoops …

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QotW (#70): 04 March 2019

tilbury-blanchett1-600x350

Elizabeth I looms in the background of Shakespeare’s early-to-mid work like the spectre at the feast.

It isn’t solely the question of censorship: she is, I think, the yardstick for every depiction of monarchy, leadership or indeed of strong women.  Remember, too, that after a frantic period when the monarch (and ruling religion) changed every few years, she assumed the throne before Shakespeare was born, and was perhaps one of the few constants in that dangerous, fluid age, until she died in 1603.

She was also a real anachronism – a woman ruler in an incredibly patriarchal society.  But was she a feminist?  Should she be regarded as a feminist icon now?

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