Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shakespeare Assignments for April

Choose one of the following three choices. For choices 2 & 3, essays should be approximately three pages in length. For option 1, obviously, they will be somewhat longer. Assignments are due Thursday, April 10, both in print and to (Richard III essay). Late assignments in either form will be penalized. (ALSO, this semester’s final vocabulary quiz, on lessons 28-30, will take place Friday April 11.)

1. Select a scene or portion of a scene of approximately 200 lines in length. No teeny-weenie scenes please. Study your scene carefully and add director’s notes clarifying and making explicit the subtext (motives, thoughts, feelings, and hidden agendas), stage directions (movements, gestures, expressions), and adverbs denoting tone of voice. Be certain to make your notes easy to distinguish from the text of the scene by putting them in a different type face (bold, italics, etc).

The play may be found on the M.I.T. web site (google Shakespeare + MIT)

2. Compare the speeches delivered by Richmond and Richard prior to the final battle at Bosworth Field. (Act 5, scene 3, lines 250-285 and 332-363, pages 291 & 297 in the Folger Library Edition). In your essay, examine the rhetoric of the two speeches as examples of persuasive language. Show how the language, style, and methods of persuasion reveal the differences between the two leaders at this critical moment. To what does each appeal in order to exhort his troops to victory? How do the speeches reveal not only their characters but also the themes of the play? Refer generously to the two speeches in your discussion.

3 Write a critique of the Richard III video viewed in class. Discuss the merits of adapting a Shakespearean script in such an unusual way. Consider some of the following questions. How successfully and how meaningfully does Loncraine's film update the play Richard III? What is gained, or lost, of the play's meaning by changing the setting from the 1480's to the 1930's? Do the changes made to Shakespeare's script make the play more or less accessible to modern audiences? Does the imagery of the film accurately depict both the glamour and the corruption of the Plantagenet royal court? Which actors' performances are most true to Shakespeare's original conception of the characters? Does this film lend credence to the often-stated belief that Shakespeare's plays are timeless? Discuss whichever of these issues allow you to develop your understanding of both play and movie. Above all, focus on those elements of the film that allow you to assess both the validity and desirability of modernizing Shakespeare's play.