ENG 4U – English Odds and Ends on a Friday

Good morning!

Though this has nothing to do with our current area of study, I believe that the following essay about is an absolutely necessary read. Please enjoy. http://101books.net/2014/10/08/this-12-year-olds-essay-is-brilliant/

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s go back to our discussion of approaches to literature. Yesterday, you were given a handout titled An Introduction to Literary Theory and Schools of Thought. Please take it out now.

Before we head down to the library, here is some proof-reading wisdom from the Bowery Poetry Club.


ENG 3U – The tone’s the thing

Good morning! Now that we’ve finished the first act of the play, it’s time to put on your thinking caps and get your creative juices flowing, then jump back in time to Shakespeare’s Illyria.


Your task is to assume the role of a writer for an up-and-coming home and garden magazine. You will be writing a descriptive magazine article about Duke Orsino’s castle for a publication called Castles and Casanovas: Homes of the Rich and Famous. This (ficticious) magazine provides readers with the latest in home decor and fashion for well-to-do castle owners. (And nosey people.)


You must show us the castle through your words and descriptive language, not through pictures. Obviously, you do not have a floor plan of Orsino’s home, so create one in your mind. Think of things like size and quantity of rooms, gardens, decor, color scheme, special additions (but remember the era you’re working within), or anything else that might peak your readers’ interest.
Think of this article as being similar to a home and garden magazine that you might see on magazine stands.  Like this: http://www.bhg.com/ Or, maybe more familiarly, it’s sort of like MTV’s Cribs, but much classier. (And no one tells you to get out when the tour’s over.) MTV Tony Hawk Cribs

The tone’s the thing…

The key to this writing task is to create and maintain an engaging tone. (If you don’t know what TONE is, we’ll go back to the Oral Texts unit materials.) The tone needs to be very informative, persuasive, and energetic. You will describe the castle and its grounds in a way that will entice people to read the article. Remember, you must maintain the appropriate tone throughout, so do not include silly features or additions in your article.


ENG 4U – Hamlet: A character recap and the end of the first act

Good morning!
Your first goal today is to solidify your knowledge of the characters in Hamlet. To that end, here is a handy little chart provided by the creator of the amazing website, goodticklebrain.com.


Pretty great, huh?

Yesterday, I asked you to read over Hamlet’s first soliloquy, found in I.ii. What is Hamlet’s state of mind? How do you know? What else is revealed in this soliloquy? How do you think Hamlet’s thoughts at this moment will move the action of the play forward? And why the tongue-holding?

In I.iii, lovingly referred to as the advice scene.  Polonius gives some guidance to his Laertes. But before that, Ophelia gives some advice to Laertes. And before that, Laertes gives some advice to Ophelia. Oh, and just to round things out, Polonius gives some advice to Ophelia at the end of the scene. Let’s make some sense out this, shall we?

Finally, the ghost.

By the end of the first act, Hamlet has seen and conversed with his father’s ghost. In Scene Four, Hamlet does not know how to react to the appearance of the ghost. In Elizabethan times, there were two warring religious belief systems surrounding the afterlife. Catholics believed that upon death, one’s soul went to heaven, hell, or purgatory, but everyone had the chance to cleanse their soul and enter heaven. Protestants believed that the dead stayed dead until Christ came back on the day of judgment, which meant their soul was damned until Christ returned.  Hamlet cannot distinguish whether his father is appearing to harm or help him.

In Scene Five, the ghost finally reveals his purpose and demands that Hamlet avenge his untimely death. Hamlet is deeply distressed, but swears to do his father’s will. With the words, “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!” Hamlet sets to his task.

ENG 3U – Four scenes and a character study

Good morning!

First, we’ll recap the first two scenes of the play. Who has been introduced? What do we know about Duke Orsino? Viola? Olivia (despite the fact that we have only been told about her by Orsino and the captain)?

Next, we’ll look at I.iii (after completing a very quick review of the use of roman numerals, if you don’t know what I.iii means) by breaking into groups of three. Once in your groups, decide who will study each of the following characters:

– Sir Toby
– Sir Andrew
– Maria

Have you chosen? Good.

Now find and regroup with the members of the other groups who share your chosen character. Together, you have seven minutes to become experts on your character, based solely on an intense and focused look at I.iii.

As part of your group work, choose three lines for your character that you can interpret and share with your original group to provide examples of your character’s personality, intelligence, motivations, or any other insights you think an expert should be able to provide.

ENG 3U – Shakespeare & RomCom Conventions

William Shakespeare was a poet, a playwright and an actor.  He wrote thirty-seven plays and 150 sonnets. He was a master of words, as demonstrated by what you see below:

Very Will Said[1]

Although very little is known about his private life,  here are a few historical tidbits:

– Shakespeare was born to a glove maker and the daughter of a wealthy land owner;
– In grammar school, he studied literature and Latin; he did not attend university;
– He may have worked as a teacher prior in his young adulthood;
– His wife was Anne Hathaway; they had three children – Susanna, then twins Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died in childhood;
– He moved to London from Stratford-Upon-Avon and began a career with a well-respected acting troupe called Lord Chamberlain’s Men. As an actor, he performed for Queen Elizabeth I;
– His writing career began in earnest while he was acting. He wrote for all audiences, from peasants to royalty;
– He died in 1616 at 52 years old  The epitaph below was written by Shakespeare himself and inscribed over his burial place. (It either demonstrates a good sense of humour or an overdeveloped sense of personal space!)

Blest be the man that spares these stones,

And curst be he that moves my bones.


Next, we will view a segment from the BBC’s series, Shakespeare Uncovered.  As we watch, please takes notes on anything presented that might help enhance your study and understanding of the play and the context in which it was written. (I will help direct our collective thinking as we go.)


The Conventions of Shakespeare’s Comedies

Conventions assist us in understanding literary works belonging to a particular genre; they help to categorize them and illuminate their common features. Genres set up certain expectations because of their shared characteristics.

We know to expect specific features when reading or viewing a Western (good guys and bad guys; shoot-outs or duels), a detective thriller (false clues that lead in the wrong direction; ingenious solution to a mystery), science fiction (humans and aliens; futuristic technology; special effects).

One’s judgment of a given work is affected in part by how it meets or fails to meet generic expectations. An artist may deliberately manipulate or play with conventions, parodying or transcending the limits of a literary genre: Monty Python’s Holy Grail parodies Arthurian romances; Blazing Saddles parodies Westerns; the Pyramus and Thisbe play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream parodies Shakespeare’s own Romeo and Juliet.

Please copy down the following into your notes. You may paraphrase as you see fit.

There are four major conventions of Shakespearean Romantic Comedy: 

  1. The main action is about love.
  2. The would-be lovers must overcome obstacles and misunderstandings before being united in harmonious union. Twelfth Night has three such couples.
  3. Frequently, it contains elements of the improbable, the fantastic, the supernatural, or the miraculous.These include unbelievable coincidences, improbable scenes of recognition/lack of recognition, willful disregard of the social order (nobles marrying commoners, beggars changed to lords), instantaneous conversions (the wicked repent), enchanted or idealized settings, supernatural beings (witches, fairies, gods and goddesses).The happy ending may be brought about through supernatural or divine intervention or may merely involve improbable turns of events.
  4. There is frequently a philosophical aspect involving weightier issues and themes: personal identity; the importance of love in human existence; the power of language to help or hinder communication; the transforming power of poetry and art; the disjunction between appearance and reality; the power of dreams and illusions.

ENG 3U – Twelfth Night, or, What You Will

Well, we’ve made it! It’s that time of the year when we delve into the incredible world and mind of William Shakespeare.

Whether you’ve loved or loathed studying Shakespeare’s works in the past, all that is required of you right now is to enter into this part of the course with an open mind and a willingness to laugh. Pretty simple, right?

To start, please complete the following (anonymous) survey questions by responding to each question by writing true or false on a piece of paper:

  1. Men and women should marry persons of similar social and economic status as themselves.
  2. People should actively choose the person with whom they fall in love.
  3. It is better not to pursue a relationship than risk being turned down by someone.
  4. Most people choose partners to love based on convenience factors (distance, ease of communication, etc.)
  5. Men are most attracted to women who are assertive and bold.
  6. Women are most attracted to men who are assertive and bold.
  7. People are often attracted to others because they play hard to get.
  8. No one really knows the person they fall in love with, because everyone  keeps at least some secrets to themselves.

Next, please use the cue card provided to complete a bookmark. Not just any bookmark, a Dramatis Personae bookmark! In other words, a bookmark that will allow you to reference those oh-so difficult to remember names that Shakespeare gave his characters.

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare (c. 1601)
Fictional Setting: The Kingdom of Illyria, a coastal kingdom

Viola                                      – Disguised as a young man called Cesario;
Sebastian                               – Viola’s twin; separated from her in a shipwreck

Orsino                                    – Duke of Illyria

Olivia                                       – A rich countess
Malvolio                            – Steward in Olivia’s household
Maria                                 – Lady in waiting (personal servant) to Olivia
Sir Toby Belch                 – Olivia’s cousin
Sir Andrew Aguecheek  – Friend of Toby
Feste                                  – Olivia’s fool/jester; also serves the Duke
Fabian                               – Servant in Olivia’s household

Antonio                                       – Friend to Sebastian

Sea Captain                               – Friend to Viola

Valentine                                     – Duke’s Attendant
Curio                                            – Duke’s Attendant

Lords, Priest, Officers, Musicians and other Attendants


Next, let’s take a look at a video, filmed by Mr. Pedrech. It features David Morrissey, who you may know better as the Governor from The Walking Dead. And he’s talking to you.


Finally, and on the same piece of paper on which you wrote down your survey answers, copy down the following (allowing for space between each question):

What Makes Something Funny?

 Think of your favourite TV comedy….

 What makes it funny?

 What is it about that particular element(s) that makes it funny?

 Why do some people think certain tv shows are funny, while others do not?

 So, what makes something funny?

 Do you think you can actually care about someone you’re laughing at?

ENG 4U – Everything’s Coming Up Hamlet!


Good morning!

Today we embark on our study of what is (arguably) Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. This will probably be the longest post of the semester, but for good reason. We’ll start by getting to know the characters, then discuss just what makes Shakespeare and his great tragedy so very relevant over 400 years after his death.

To start, please use your handy cue card to complete the Dramatis Bookmarkis (or, to commoners,) the Dramatis Personae, found below:

By William Shakespeare (c. 1591)
Setting: Elsinore Castle, Denmark

 Hamlet                                     — Prince of Denmark

        Gertrude                          — Hamlet’s Mother, queen

        Claudius                          — Hamlet’s Uncle, king of Denmark

Horatio                             — Hamlet’s trusted friend

The Ghost                       — Hamlet’s Father, dead king

Polonius                                  — King’s counselor

        Laertes                            — Polonius’ son

        Ophelia                            — Polonius’ daughter


Fortinbras                                   — Prince of Norway

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern   — Hamlet’s childhood friends


 Marcellus                                 — Officers on watch


Reynaldo                                    — Servant of Polonius

Francisco, Cornelius               — Ambassadors to Norway

Players                                       — A group of travelling actors

First & Second Clowns            — Gravediggers

Osric, Lords, Gentlemen         — Courtiers at Elsinore   


Next, please watch this video, kindly provided by Mr. Pedrech.


Hamlet is the only play that has inspired its own cult, and there’s even a name for it: Hamletology, the study of all things Hamlet. Hamletologists can readily cite every record-breaking statistic about the play. Here is a brief encounter with some of their findings about Hamlet:

  • It has been performed more than any other play in the world, and more has been written about it than any other literary work.
  • It’s been translated more than any other play and has inspired more spoofs, spin-offs, offshoots, sendups, burlesques, and adaptations than any other work of literature. There is even a Popeye version of the play.
  • There are more than 46 movie versions of the play, ranging from Italian to Indian to French. Here’s the trailer for the newest, Bollywood style:
  • The line “to be or not to be” is the most quoted phrase in the English language.
  • The actors that have portrayed Hamlet are as varied as can be: hippies, dwarfs, fat men, tiny men, women (one with a wooden leg) and twins. It`s been performed by the five-year-old prodigy hailed as `Master Betty, the Infant Phenomenon of the Regency Period and by the octogenarian Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson.
  • It has inspired twenty-six ballets, six operas, and dozens of musical works.
  • Hamlet is the longest play Shakespeare wrote. The uncut version, rarely performed in its entirety, takes four and a half to five hours to perform.
  • The play’s first performance outside England occurred in 1607, when a group of sailors enacted it off the Cape of Good Hope. The performance was entered in the ship’s log as “this popular play now running in England.”
    • From “Hamletology” by Norrie Epstein


    With a partner (and then in your own notes), discuss different life situations that may be traumatic, using the information gathered from the poll and your own ideas and experiences. In your discussion, describe some of the characteristics of people who are grieving. Try to give reasons for their attitudes or actions.