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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Hello Y12

In this week's lesson we looked closely at Act I, Scene I. If you didn't get to the end of the scene you need to go through it in the same way. It should be heavily annotated.

It's Shakespeare so a couple of words often bring much debate and fascinating analysis! In the opening scene the audience meets the central characters, are given information about their status and demise and are introduced to many of the themes and motifs. In just the first few lines the audience overhears of the planned division and of the King's suggested favouritism.

In the first scene there is the clash of the personal and the public. The manners of court contrast with private, loving relationships. Lear leaves his private relationships as father of Cordelia and friend to Kent and then his public role as king; he demonstrates destructive acts as father and as a king unafraid to rip apart the kingdom. This exposes him to vulnerability as a father and as a king; this increases the dramatic tension.

There are striking contrasts established in 1.1. Cordelia’s ‘ponderous’ tongue contrasts with the light words of Goneril and Regan. Goneril states that she loves Lear ‘more than word can wield’ (1.1.54) and then goes on to say how much she loves him, so much that ‘speech [is] unable’ (1.1.59), but she’s still speaking! It’s ironic that she says that words aren’t enough, as Cordelia does, but appears to manage to ‘heave her heart into [her] mouth’ (1.1.90-91). Cordelia’s asides occur directly after her sisters speak creating a further contrast.

The King of France also contrasts with King Lear. France seizes upon her virtues (1.1.251) of honesty and plainness. Language is also used to generate contrasts in his speech (1.1.249-260) – have a look.

It’s imperative that we remember that this is a play and is written for performance. The physicality of the crown (‘this coronet part between you’ (1.1.138)) and the map also serve to heighten the dramatic tension. These can be performed as props to emphasise the disorder/chaos and signal the inevitability of the tragedy.

Shakespeare foreshadows the tragedy. Your homework title then is an essay answering the question:
How does Shakespeare signal the inevitability of Tragedy in Act 1, Scene 1 of King Lear?
(700-900 words) You should use the key terms. You do not need to write an essay on everything in the scene; select a few key words and a couple of speeches to keep your writing concise but also exploratory.

Any problems then let me know.
Ms Caldwell

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hello all,

This is a quick post just to let you know that I won't be able to post a detailed summary of the lesson and homework until tomorrow (Friday), possibly Saturday at the very latest.

I'm am very sorry about this - I'm sure you are quite gutted! If this is a problem for you, particularly if you are going on holiday, then please leave a comment. Otherwise, check back in a couple of days...

Happy holiday!

Ms :)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hello Y12


I hadn't imagined when I talked about Star Wars as a tragedy in the lesson there would be such a wealth of information online. Have a ponder over these:


  • This link is a transcript of a lecture; it is pretty spectacular, though it would be better, I think, if it used some more of the key terms for tragedy.

  • This link is also interesting. (I want to make a joke about Star Wars and Geek Tragedy.)

Essentially, Anakin could be hero with the fatal flaw (harmartia). He shows excessive pride (hubris) in his control of the force. There is an inevitability to his downfall as Yoda 'senses much fear in him' when he is taken on by the Jedi council and the force is clouded. Anagnorisis is occurs just before death when the Anakin (Darth Vadar) recognises that he has caused much suffering and kills the Emperor. This is after having been fatally wounded by his son who doesn't know he's his son for much of the film; this has similarities to the classic Greek Tragedy Oedipus (though arguably tenuous). The cathartic moment in the film comes at Darth Vadar/ Anakin's death.


I think Yoda sums up the tragic elements of the film when he says at the Jedi council meeting 'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.' The inevitability of the downfall is made clear, the flaw is made clear and the suffering of the tragedy is signalled. The audience experience both pity and fear and learn the moral lesson of not joining the Dark Side.

Obviously, this is not exact. There are also factors that don't relate to a tragedy. The three unities can be ruled out: the time is over two generations; there are lots of sub-plots and the setting is all over space! Furthermore, Anakin moves from tragic hero to villain... I think is amusing though.


I would like to point out that my son was four when Episode I came out and this explains my extensive knowledge of the Star Wars saga.


It is a useful exercise to apply the Tragic terms to films, modern media and history. This will cement your understanding and application. You may want to think up cathartic endings for some events (Blair and Bush being a popular choice).


Next lesson we will do some close analysis in the first lesson and some drama in the second lesson. One of the difficult aspects of the course is considering the play in performance (we'll make sure we use the resources in the classroom though: your drama student peers). I'm looking forward to it!

Any comments then comment...

Ms Caldwell


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Stop Press!

If you're writing a soliloquy, in Shakespeare's style, then you need not adhere to the 600 word count. If you're writing the dramatic monologue or creative writing then I think that this word limit is acceptable. If you are struggling with this then do let me know.
Hope you've enjoyed your long weekend!
Ms Caldwell

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A Tragic Treasure Hunt

Hello Y12

I’m afraid I can’t be with you on Wednesday (I am at a conference in London).

Don’t be too distressed though: I have left you some work. If you look at the bottom of the lectern (the stand with the computer on) there is a cupboard with a key. In the cupboard, at the back, there is a red folder. Inside the red folder there is the Russian version of King Learyay! You can watch this until the end; we were about 1hr30mins in. Don't forget to move the mouse every ten minutes or it'll hibernate.
At the end of the film version of the play I think it is good to consider Huxley's definition of tragedy...

When this has finished you should make a double plot synopsis of the plots; this will need two strands, one for the Lear plot and one for the Gloucester plot. (This might be done most simply as a timeline.) You should discuss the plot/s in groups and share your points. Ensure everyone is included in your discussion. Make sure you bring your completed synopsis to next week's lesson as you will need it.

You should then write a re-creative piece telling the story from a single character’s point-of-view; you can choose the character. This will help you focus on the plot from a different perspective. It is essential that you consult your text for details of the plot and to get to know your character; you can also use links in previous post to help with your knowledge and understanding.
You could write this as:
- a soliloquy in Shakespeare’s style, making reference to similar themes and using language that is appropriate
- a dramatic monologue
- a piece of creative writing
This should be finished for homework and handed in next lesson. It should be between 600 and 800 words.
The homework that is due in today should have your name on and go in the red folder that you found as part of the treasure hunt. PUT THE DVD IN HERE TOO AND TAKE IT TO THE STAFF ROOM TO GO IN MY PIGEON-HOLE PLEASE. I love this version, it is very difficult to get hold of and it is my personal copy. Please look after it and ensure it finds its way home...
Finally, write your full name, legibly, on a single piece of paper and take it to the office as a register please. I suggest this is done as someone is logging on to play the DVD.
Well done in advance for all your hard work!

If you have any queries please leave a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP. Alternatively, email me via the school email (lcaldwell).
See you next week
Ms Caldwell