British Soc. & Lit 1: Blog Post 2 (Merchant of Venice)

The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare (1598)

Feel free to use whatever version of the play you like– but remember that class presentations, papers, or other assignments involving the play must use the original language.

Blog posts due & Presentations: Thursday, March 30

  • Group 3: What do the rings mean in the play?
  • Group 2: Why do the good people gradually show their bad side, whereas Shylock is bad but later shows some good?
  • Group 4: How do Jessica & Lorenzo’s and Bassanio & Portia’s relationships differ, and what does that difference show?

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing the play. Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

For the presentations, choose one topic per group. Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. How does money affect how people in the play relate to each other? Do you think Shakespeare is making a statement about this?
  2. A Korean professor once told me that Koreans would find Jessica’s abandonment of her father unacceptable. Are Jessica’s actions justified?
  3. Why is Shylock treated so badly? Does he deserve the treatment? Discuss the anti-Semitism of the play.
  4. In the play, the women seem smarter and in charge. Is this humorous, or do you think Shakespeare is saying something in this?
  5. Is it right that the women trick the husbands into giving up their rings? What do the rings symbolize?
  6. Do Jessica and Lorenzo really love each other? Why is this subplot in the play?
  7. The climax of the play is where Portia, pretending she’s a judge, states that justice should be about mercy. The characters believe Shylock receives mercy at the end; do you agree?
  8. Most scholars agree that Antonio and Bassanio are simply good friends who show affection for each other. Some think it’s more than just friendship. What do you think?
  9. Analyze a character or scene in the play you feel is interesting or important.

Shakespeare: Blog Post 1 (Twelfth Night)

Twelfth Night (about 1602)

Blog posts due / Presentations: Monday, March 27

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing Twelfth Night. Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

  • Presentation Group 2: The characters’ “irrational” love. Why do they fall in love so unreasonably? What is Shakespeare trying to show?
  • Presentation Group 7: How do the characters change throughout the play, and why?
  • Response questions will be led by Groups 1 and 6.

For the presentations, choose one topic per group. Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. Are the play’s characters sympathetic when everyone changes their mind and plays so many tricks on each other? Who is the best character?
  2. Orsino is maybe more in love with “love” than with Olivia, and yet Viola falls in love with him. Why does she? What are his good qualities?
  3. A key theme in the play is deception, where people show a false front to others or themselves. Are they justified in doing so?
  4. Why do the other characters dislike Malvolio so much? Why does Olivia put up with him?
  5. Discuss how the songs and music in the play explain or relate to the story’s action or ideas.
  6. Discuss Feste. He is a clown but is probably the smartest person in the story. Why would Shakespeare do this?
  7. Is it right for Sebastian to marry Olivia so quickly, when she thinks that she is marrying Cesario?
  8. Choose a character and show how that character changes throughout the play, and why.
  9. Does the play teach a lesson or have a moral to it? What is it?

Shakespeare Missed Class

A reminder: Shakespeare class will not meet on Monday, March 13. We’ll arrange a make-up class later. We will meet as normal on Thursday.

  • Update: We are tentatively scheduled to do our makeup on Wednesday, March 22 at 1:00.

British Soc. & Lit. 1 Blog Post 1 (Miller’s Tale / Wife of Bath)

“The Miller’s Tale” & “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” from Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1386)

Blog posts due: Friday, March 17

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing “The Miller’s Tale” or “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

For the presentations, choose one topic per group. Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. Is the Miller’s Tale disgusting or offensive, or just silly? Why might people find it funny?
  2. Do you feel sorry for John the husband, or does he get what he deserves?
  3. Some feminists have noticed that everyone in the Miller’s Tale is punished in some way, except for Alison, who does what she wants. Is this correct, or fair?
  4. Is there some kind of moral lesson in the Miller’s Tale?
  5. What is either story saying about love?
  6. What is the Wife of Bath saying about marriage in her tale?
  7. Do you agree with the Wife of Bath’s logic or arguments? Do they make sense?
  8. Although the Wife of Bath wins over her husband, he is still technically a rapist. Is he a sympathetic character? Do you like him?
  9. Is Alison or the Wife of Bath a stronger woman? What do you think Chaucer thinks of women in these stories?