A Good Laugh from My Student
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0474 Friday, 31 December 2010
From: Joe Conlon <
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010 4:44:54 PM ET
Subject: A Good Laugh from My Student
I'm teaching high school sophomores in a small town school in north-
central Indiana and we are in the middle of Final Exam week. They spent
at least three weeks on the play _Julius Caesar_. They read the play,
enacted several scenes, saw the 1952 movie with Marlon Brando as Antony
and did several projects and presentations.They had an essay on their
final with the following prompt: "Imagine that you are Brutus in _Julius
Caesar_. You just delivered the funeral address for Julius Caesar. You
are on the run and decide to write Portia a letter to let her know what
has happened. You want her to hear the complete story from you first,
but you have to write it because you will become too emotional if you
see her and you do not know when you will have the chance to see her.
Where will you begin? You want her to know why tis act was carried out,
so perhaps you should start with the first planning of the deed. You
imagine the questions she might ask: When and where did the killing
occur? Who delivered the thrusts? What happened next? What did you say
in your funeral address? Where was the body of Caesar taken and by whom?
What did Mark Antony say? What were the reactions of the crowd to both
your speech and that of Mark Antony? Remember, you are writing an
informative letter to her and you want to remain as objective as
Here is one student's entire verbatim answer:
"Portia, I wrote you this letter because I didn't know how to tell you
face to face. Your going to be devistaited and heart broken, but Caesar
was killed last night. Brutus stabbed him and he fell to the floor
drapping with blood. After Brutus stabbed him he felt happy and so he
Caesar's funeral is Saturday at 10am at Westville funeral home st.
address is 6212 S. on Wally road. Caesar's body has been taken to the
middle of the ground and Mark Antony is the one who took it there. Mark
Antony said it was okay for him to be dead and it wasn't a tragedy.
Caesar's killing was taken place at the senate meeting. Brutus and
Cassius delivered the thrusts."
As I'm grading the paper (laughing), I'm trying to figure out where in
the world has she been the past five weeks and why in the world did she
write this. Then I had what I think is an insight. I think she focused
on the words "You just delivered the funeral address" and decided to
make up an address. Sad, sad, sad (but funny).
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