The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1568 Tuesday, 20 September 2005
Date: Monday, 19 Sep 2005 08:33:28 -0700
Subject: 16.1553 Notion of Time
Comment: Re: SHK 16.1553 Notion of Time
Edna Boris asked about suggestions of a play to teach on the "concept of
In 1 Henry 4, the word "time" occurs approximately 50 times. I'm not
sure how that stacks up to other plays, but it seems like an awful lot
of times to mention the word "time" to me. The reason I noticed this is
because one of my teachers at Marquette University had us trace the
concept of time in 1 Henry 4, and it turned out to be a very interesting
and enlightening exercise. With all that is going on in that play, time
is of the essence in many, many ways. I would say that if there could be
only one play that could be taught in a class based on the concept of
time, this is the one I would choose, especially since Prince Hal is
caught in such a liminal space during this play between the binaries of
madcap prince and capable king. How Prince Hal spends his time in this
play is essential, and it seems like everyone else in the play knows it
from how much "time" is brought up. Check it out.
Also, I would say that this play might be one that students hadn't had
contact with in high school (unlike Romeo and Juliet), so it would be an
opportunity to introduce them to an entirely different play and genre.
Also, I think your instinct to go with a history play is right because
of history's interest and association with time. I think the Richard II
line about time wasting him is good for your concept, but you could
touch on a little back story about Richard II if you teach 1 Henry 4,
mention the line, and them move on to the tightly conceived concept of
time that packages 1 Henry 4 so well. It's a very well-constructed play,
1 Henry 4, and I think it would serve your purposes wonderfully.
Best of luck!
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