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Wednesday, 13 December, 8-11 a.m., 10 Evans Hall. BRING BLUEBOOK(S)


Narrative structures: actions, plots; logic of plot-construction.

Characters: whether virtuous or vicious; also place in plot, e.g.: principal characters; exploited characters (used by Shakespeare to make other characters look better or worse); super-characters; extraneous characters; "outsiders" (Don Amando, Shylock, Malvolio, Caliban); characters who become more "human", especially through a display of empathy; characters who change and become capable of redemption from past sins, crimes, or misjudgments.

Conclusions or denouements: rewards and punishments; good deaths; justified deaths; do characters end up better or worse than they deserve?

Mechanics of end-results: do things come about by intention? by letting things work themselves out? by coincidence or dumb luck? by natural means? supernatural means?

Gender issues: relative power of men and women; how do women compensate? changing of roles; cross-dressing. If gender is important, is it more important than class?

Language: do characters speak prose? poetry? blank verse? rhymed verse? do they change the kind of language they speak over time? Is there a one-to-one suitability of language to character?

How is language used? to create atmosphere? spells? relationships? curses? storms? love? hate? comedy? wit? national, ethnic, or gender differences?

Physical space: benefits or disadvantages of open-plan stage? daylight? costume? absence of scenery? limited use of curtains?

Themes and topics: moral obligations: loyalty to king? ruler? overseer? living parents? dead parents? extended family? servants? others? Obligation to right wrongs? to fall in love? to beget children? to care for them?

Moments, characters, or topics which can be seen from different points of view. Best example may be Hamlet's madness: whether or not mad, how extensive the madness, and how the madness is to be expressed, may be up to the director or the actor. Also, many plays have points in the dialogue where character is determined one way or another. Case in point is the "Get thee to a nunnery" speech in Hamlet: is Hamlet kind or cruel to Ophelia during this speech? Answer may turn on whether or not Hamlet knows there is someone behind the arras. Similar cases in this or other plays?


For students A through Liao: Nicole Asaro (
W, F: 11-12:30
Brewed Awakening (Euclid Street)

For students Lieberman through Z: Jacob Hauber (
MW 11:30-12:30
Brewed Awakening (Euclid Street)

Second Paper (due Wednesday, 29 November)

Compose an essay on ambiguity in any play which we have read so far this semester subsequent to 1 Henry IV. Identify a character, sentiment, or situation which can be interpreted from two opposing points of view. (Example 1: Hamlet is mad; Hamlet is not mad. Example 2: Hamlet knows that the King and Polonius are hiding behind the arras; Hamlet does not know that the King and Polonius are hiding behind the arras.) Make as strong a case as you can for each position or point of view. Finish by 1) attempting to reconcile the two points of view; 2) arguing for the validity of one point of view over the other; or 3) arguing that the two points of view are equally cogent but irreconcilable.

Please check with your Reader in advance if you have any questions, or to clear a topic of which you have doubts. In fairness to the readers, papers may not be longer than four pages (or 1000 words).

Papers should be handed in if possible at the end of the class hour; however, they may be placed under the instructor's office door (421 Wheeler) at any time before 4:00 p.m. on the date due. DO NOT miss class for the sake of completing your paper.

First Paper (due 6 October)

Compose an essay on loyalty in any two plays which we have read so far this semester, through 1 Henry IV. You may consider loyalty in love, in politics, in friendship, loyalty to an oath, or any other instance of loyalty which may occur to you. The examples from the two different plays may be positively or negatively correlated (i.e., essentially the same, or the opposite); probably, however, you will want to choose examples which have strong basic similarities as well as interesting differences.


Revels Book 1604-5

King Lear Registration and Title-Page

Revels Book 1611-12

Tentative Reading Schedule and Semester Announcements

English 117S                SHAKESPEARE                Fall 2000
Mr. Nelson                                             105 North Gate Hall
Class website:        MWF 10:00-11:00

Week 1
Mo Aug 28  Introduction: Contexts, Life, Works
We     30  Venus and Adonis (narrative poem)
Fr Sep 01

Week 2
Mo     04  Labor Day Holiday
We     06  Love's Labors Lost
Fr     08

Week 3
Mo     11  A Midsummer Night's Dream
We     13
Fr     15

Week 4
Mo     18  Richard III
We     20                          Mini-exam 1
Fr     22

Week 5
Mo     25  Henry IV, Part 1
We     27                          First Paper Due
Fr     29

Week 6
Mo Oct 02  Merchant of Venice
We     04                          Mini-exam 2
Fr     06

Week 7
Mo Mar 09  Much Ado About Nothing
We     11
Fr     13

Week 8
Mo Mar 16  Hamlet Prince of Denmark
We     18                           Mini-exam 3
Fr     20

Week 9
Mo     23  Twelfth Night
We     25
Fr     27

Week 10
Mo     30  Measure for Measure
We Nov 01                           Mini-exam 4
Fr     03                           Second Paper Due

Week 11
Mo     06  Sonnets
We     08                               [double-penalty for absence]
Fr     10  Veterans' Day Holiday

Week 12
Mo Apr 13  King Lear                    [double-penalty for absence]
We     15
Fr     17

Week 13
Mo     20  Antony and Cleopatra
We     22                               [double-penalty for absence]
Fr     24  Thanksgiving Day Holiday

Week 14
Mo     27  The Tempest                  [double-penalty for absence]
We     29                            Third Paper Due
Fr Dec 01

Week 15
We     06
Fr     08

Final Examination: Wednesday, 13 December, 8-11 a.m.

Notes on class business

1) You are expected to have read each play to the end by the Wednesday of the week in which that play is discussed.

2) In lieu of a single mid-term examination, four mini-exams (15-20 minutes each) will be given. Each mini-exam will consist of one identification section taken from the reading for that week, plus one essay on a topic discussed in class. Each student must take three and only three mini-exams. No make-up mini-exams except on written medical excuses.

3) You are required to submit a total of four questions in writing concerning plays or poems under discussion - full explanation to be given in class.

4) Play readings will be organized throughout the semester, late-afternoons and evenings. Although you are not required to attend, you are urged to participate in at least one reading.

5) Shakespeare plays are available in the audio-visual facility in Moffit Library. You are urged to watch plays in cinemas or on VCR, but as a supplement and not as a substitute for reading the texts.

6) You are expected to attend class regularly: attendance will be taken most days. Unexcused absences beyond three will result in a reduction in the final grade by one grade-increment (i.e. from B- to C+) for each such absence.

7) Do not miss class on the day a paper is due: missing class is a graver sin and will incur a harsher penalty than submitting a paper a day late.

8) You are reminded of the Department of English policy regarding plagiarism.

9) Final admonition: You are required to read all plays and poems assigned over the semester. Mid-term quizzes and the final exam will be designed to test whether students have done the required reading. Failure to accomplish the required reading will be grounds for a failing final grade regardless of how well you may do in other aspects of this course.

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