The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0112 Monday, 6 March 2006
Date: Friday, 03 Mar 2006 19:01:13 +0000
Subject: Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
A university student of my acquaintance has been set an assignment to
comment as follows:
'Measure for Measure - a tragedy, a comedy, or something in between?'
...........oh yes, and by the way, complete this in 2500 words!!!
My first reaction when I had heard her cry of panic was that this is an
almost impossible assignment, that scholars for decades had wrestled
with precisely this issue, that there was far, far too much to say, and
where was a student of limited literary background to go in establishing
genre in MM - I mean is that a profitable exercise at all and certainly
in only 2500 words. And it set me thinking about some of the most
impossible tasks university teachers can set, tasks that would daunt
scholars of several years' research standing.
I tried to map out a few answers, and I was way up into 4k words before
I realised that I had not ever not to the Duke as a thoroughly
Machiavellian and toad like deus ex machina who had for his own purposes
screwed up a lot of lives. Is there a parallel in Prospero - then I
stopped, realising that the assignment was simply undoable.
Do we sometimes forget that many of our students have come into a room
with a not very powerful torch, and when they shine it around it looks
more like the Mines of Moria than an assignment for serious credits on a
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