Monday, October 26, 2015

For Wednesday: School for Scandal, Acts III & IV

Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: In Act IV, Joseph attempts to seduce Lady Teazle in an interesting manner. What is his argument for taking an indiscretion against Sir Peter, and why is Lady Teazle almost convinced by it? What does this say about the morals of a so-called "man of sentiment"?

Q2: In Act III, scene 1, Sir Peter intends to make amends with his wife, and within two pages they're getting a divorce. Clearly, he has no interest in this--and as we later see, neither does she--so how are they each tricked into acting the "role" of a maligned wife and husband? Why do their arguments strike us as curiously artificial and borrowed?

Q3: In one of the most hilarious and ironic scenes in the play, Charles proves his "candor" (rather than his sentiment) to Sir Oliver, disguised as the money lender Master Premium. How does he do this, and are his actions proof of his profligate nature...or a tonic to his brother's subterfuge? How are we supposed to read/respond to him in this scene?

Q4: Which scene in the play reminds you of the Hogarth print above (which we examined in class on Monday)? How are both the artist and the playwright using farce and satire to exposed the debased values of the English aristocracy? Also, who ultimately exposes Joseph's plans?  

Friday, October 23, 2015

For Monday: The School for Scandal, Acts I and II

For Monday: Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, Acts I and II

Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: Restoration theater and 18th-century comedy typically employed names that represented the characters’ true personalities. How do some of the characters’ names function in this “inside” way with the audience? Related to this, are the “good” characters the ones with non-allegorical names?

Q2: Our previous literature typically had one woman surrounded by a sea of men (Cleopatra, the Wife of Bath, Alison, etc.): this is the first work that shows women among other women in English society.  How does Sheridan depict female society among the upper classes? What is female conversation, and how does it differ from conversation between males in the play?

Q3: Why does Sir Oliver distrust the accounts of his nephews Joseph and Charles? Why is he more inclined to trust the servant, Rowley, than his old friend, Sir Peter? Related to this, what is his general view of reputation and society?

Q4: Plays like The School for Scandal are the forbearers of the modern-day sitcom with their punch lines and stock characters/situations. Where do we see familiar comic situations or jokes in this play that could still be used today? Or, where do we see modern characters beneath the wigs and petticoats of these 18th-century ancestors? 

Friday, October 9, 2015

For Monday: Supplemental Readings, Dusinberre and Rutter (see below)

For Monday: Dusinberre, “Gender and Performance in Antony and Cleopatra” (pp. 227-245) and Rutter, “Shadowing Cleopatra” (pp.248-260)

REMEMBER to use at least two of the 4 essays we’ve read as sources in your paper. They can help you see ideas you may have missed about each character, and/or can offer support for your own readings. You don’t have to understand or follow the entire essay to get something useful from it: like a poem, take it line by line and try to see how each writer is illuminating Shakespeare’s text. 

Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: In Rutter’s essay, she examines the RSC’s acrhive of photos from previous productions of Antony and Cleopatra and talks of a “politics of performance” (249). What does this mean? How can a theatrical performance of a 500 year-old work be “political” or informed by the time of its production (the 1950’s, for example)?  How does this affect what Shakespeare we see—or don’t see? Can politics obscure the text? 

Q2: Also according to Rutter’s essay, ethnicity isn’t just a matter of skin color or history: it becomes ethically symbolic. A “white” Cleopatra means something that a “black” Cleopatra doesn’t. Based on this, why might Shakespeare have stressed Cleopatra’s “darkness,” and why did productions before 1990 shy away from it, giving us one white Cleopatra after another (though with black slaves—whether authentic or painted)? 

Q3: In Duisinberre’s essay, she quotes a negative review of the Vivian Leigh/Laurence Olivier production of Antony and Cleopatra by Kenneth Tyanan. Based on his objections, Duisinberre asks, “Would Tynan have minded Leigh’s dominance as Cleopatra over Olivier as Antony, if a boy who looked like Leigh had been playing the part?” (242). What does she mean by this? Why might a woman as Cleopatra be more threatening than a boy? How might this support the idea that Shakespeare expected the part to be played by a boy (which some claim is impossible) rather than a woman-of-the-future?

Q4: Duisinberre makes an astonishing connection by considering the date of the play (1608) and the recent death of Elizabeth I (1603). How might Cleopatra be based on Elizabeth herself? How might audiences have seen or suspected this? How might that change the way we think about or perform Cleopatra? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

For Friday: Critical Readings--Adelman and Dollimore (see below)

For Friday: Critical Readings on Antony and Cleopatra

* Read Adelman’s “Tradition as Source in Antony and Cleopatra” (180-192) and Dollimore’s “Virtus under Erasure” (193-203)

Answer 2 of the following:

Q1: Adelman’s essay explains that the story of Dido and Aeneas (from Virgil’s The Aeneid, the great Roman epic poem) shapes the characters and conflict of Antony and Cleopatra. How did Shakespeare’s reading of this work, as well as the retellings of this work by Marlowe and others, influence how he wrote his characters and presented their story?

Q2: Adelman also suggests in her essay that Elizabethan audiences would be expected to read parts of the play—or the characters—allegorically. How does she suggest we do this? How might this change how we read or experience the play?

Q3: Dollimore’s essay concerns itself chiefly with the idea that “power is a function not of the ‘person’...but of the ‘place’, and that the criterion for reward is not intrinsic to the ‘performance’ but, again, relative to one’s placing in the power structure” (196). How does this idea help us read Antony’s downfall in the play, and his inability to be the man he once was?

Q4: Another quote that underlines Dollimore’s essential reading of the play comes on page 201, when he writes, “The extent of people’s dependence upon the powerful is something that the play never allows us to forget.” How does he explain this idea in the play itself? How does it shape the events and actions of the main characters? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

For Wednesday: Antony and Cleopatra, Act V & Shakespeare's Language Link

Remember, no questions for Wednesday, but finish Act 5 (and thus, the entire play); we'll have an in-class writing assignment/discussion when you arrive. 

Also, for those interested, I recently read an editorial on the attempt by the Oregon Shakespeare Company to 'translate' the plays for modern audiences. While the article is in favor it, I am not, and I wrote a post about the need to confront Shakespeare on his own terms, and in his own language. You can read it here if you're interested (both my post and the original article) and post your own responses if you wish. Dr. Benton has already given his two cents here as well.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Everyman Extra Credit Assignment

NOTE: The questions for Act 4 of Antony and Cleopatra are BELOW this post. 

For those of you who went to the Friday performance of Everyman, here is an extra-credit opportunity for you. Answer the following questions (all of them), and I can allow you to make up for 2 missed responses, or 2 absences, or if you don't need any of that, I'll add 3 extra points to your final grade. Something to think about...

Q1: How does Everyman seem to share many of the same themes, ideas, and characters of our other medieval works--The Canterbury Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? How might Chaucer or the Pearl Poet be responding to the same cultural issues as the playwright of Everyman?

Q2: In what ways did the current performance try to modernize a play originally written in a dialect of Middle English in (or around) the 14th century? Do you feel the modernization was effective, or did it detract from the play itself? Be specific here--don't just say "they used modern dress," etc.

Q3: What did you feel the message of the play was. especially considering the entire work was allegorical in nature? How did this performance stress this reading? 

Q4: How did the readings in our class prepare you to appreciate and/or understand this work in a way other audience members might not have? How has your scholarship in earlier English literature come to your assistance? (assuming it has, that is...) 

Friday, October 2, 2015

For Monday: Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4

For Monday: Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4

Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: In Act 4, Scene 4, Cleopatra dresses Antony for war, much as in an earlier scene, she dressed him in her clothing and wore his sword. At the end of this scene, she admires him as he leaves, remarking, “He goes forth gallantly. That he and Caesar might/Determine the great war in single fight!/Then, Antony—but now—Well, on” (83). Why does she close with this statement? What do you think she is lamenting here, and how should we read/hear her final sentence with the dashes?

Q2: In Act 4 we have three deaths and one fake one (Cleopatra); how do the deaths of the servants (Enobarbus and Eros) compare with Antony and the fake death of Cleopatra’s? Are some pathetic and others bathetic? Recall the death scene of Arcita in “The Knight’s Tale”: do we see any bathetic overtures here? Or are these all sound, tragic deaths?

Q3: In Act 4, Scene 12, Antony gives his longest speech about Cleopatra upon learning of her second betrayal. Examine this speech: what does it say about the ambivalent nature of their relationship, and Antony’s deeply ingrained nature as a Roman (and not an Egyptian, like her)?

Q4: Why does Cleopatra play the final trick on Antony, telling him through servants that she’s dead? What does she hope to accomplish by this ruse? Does she intend to kill him? Save him? How this act change/challenge your view of her, or merely affirm it? Focus on a passage that helps us ‘see’ this.