Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 78. Monday, 11 Mar 1991.
Date: 11 March 1991, 13:52:25 EST
From: FLANNAGA at OUACCVMB
Subject: [Exam for Comments]
I thought I might try something unprecedented (as far as I know)
on e-mail: distributing a final examination on a file-server, for
comment and suggestions. Our Shakespeare courses at Ohio University are
divided generically, and this examination is for the ten-week-quarter
Histories course. Students will have read the plays in the Riverside
edtion and they will have seen 1-3 Henry VI (BBC), Richard III
(Olivier), Richard II (BBC with Jacoby) and Henry V (15 min. of Olivier,
all of Branagh). There are thirty students in the section. I would be
curious to see if the SHAKSPER crew would see the exam as critically
quaint or naive, and I would like to see what sort of responses it might
elicit from subscribers, especially with respect to how others would do
the test differently. Is there anyone out there, for instance, giving
vocabulary questions, or asking for recital of a memorized passage, or
anyone doing a computerized ID or multiple-answer test? What does a
Marxist Shakespeare exam look like, or a structuralist one?
One side question: Nym uses the phrase "Shog off" to Mistress Quickly:
"shog" only appears in this play; is the Riverside definition "jog"
adequate, or is the phrase like the modern "Sod off"?
Shakespeare Histories, Winter 1991, Final Examination
I. Short answers (5 points each; do FOUR):
1. Why is it appropriate, given what you know about him, that Branagh
(one "n" is correct) allows Corporal Nym to get his throat cut
(actually his neck is broken in the movie) while cutting purses?
The scene is not in the play.
2. What is the breach in "Once more unto the breach, dear friends," who
are the friends (why is it important that they are called that),
and why is it important that they get through the breach?
3. Who kills prisoners and why and who kills baggage-boys and why
and how are the two linked? Why would Branagh choose to leave
out mention of one of the events (which one?)?
4. Who dies in the Jerusalem Chamber, and why is it important
for him to do so?
5. What does "a little touch of Harry in the night" refer to?
II. Medium answers (20 points each; do BOTH)
1. What does Henry V mean when he calls himself a "gentle gamester"
(he uses the image when he is talking about treating the French
fairly during the Battle of Agincourt), given the fact that a
gamester is someone who gambles, plays the odds and could be corrupted by
the process? How might the phrase refer to his life before and after
he became king?
2. You now know about comedy in the history plays. Why do
you think Shakespeare left it out of Richard III and mostly
left it out of the Henry VI plays?
III. Long answers (30 points each: do TWO):
1. Discuss the treatment of women by kings in the Henry VI plays,
Richard III, Richard II, and the Henry IV and V plays. How does
the treatment of women define the character of each of the kings?
2. Discuss in detail the tension that exists between Falstaff
and what he stands for and Hal/Henry V/Harry and what (in all those names)
he stands for. Would Falstaff have been on the side of Dauphin
when he gave Henry V the tennis balls?
3. Discuss the imagery connected with the crown, as an object
fantasized as glorous wish-fulfillment by Richard III, as excoriated
as a round or circle in which grinning Death plays the antic (fool)
or the circle of a water-well where buckets either sink or rise by good or
bad fortune according to Richard II, and as considered a burden under
which the head of a king lies uneasy in 2 Henry IV and Henry V.
Beware of BS.