Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Appreciating Shakespeare's Language

When Shakespeare wrote his sonnets and plays, the language he used was popular and would have been easily recognized by seventeenth century audiences. However, in the twenty-first century, we have a more difficult time comprehending the words Shakespeare used. What we must remember is that Shakespeare’s words can be easily “translated” into modern English, and once we become familiar with these words, it becomes easier to read and understand the language, and then we are able to appreciate the story Shakespeare is trying to tell.

Below is a list of common words found in Shakespeare’s works, along with a modern “translation” of the word or phrase.

1.    mark: pay attention to                            2.    attend: listen to
3.    nay: no                                                   4.    withal: with
5.    discourses: speaks                                 6.    an: if
7.    will: desire                                             8.    thither: there
9.    anon: at once                                         10. thy: your
11. thou art: you are                                     12. woo: to court a woman/man
13. soft: hush                                                14. methinks: I think
15. dispatch: to send away or to kill
16. nought: nothing                                      17. marry: of course; indeed
18. good-den or do-den: Good Evening
19. hap: lucky                                               20. maid: an unmarried young girl
21. humor: mood or moisture                       22. wot: know
23. stay!: wait!                                              24. hie: go
25. tidings: news 26. pray: beg                     27. decree: order
28. resolve: plan                                           29. foe: enemy
30. coz: cousin                                             31. hither: here
32. plague: curse                                          33. adieu: goodbye
34. woe: grief                                               35. heavy: sad
36. counsel: advice                                    37. thee: you
38. sirrah: fellow                                       39. would: wish
40. doth: does



Essay Questions

1.    Compare and contrast the characters of Macbeth and Macduff. Consider their personalities, relationships, and what motivates each character. Is one man good and the other evil, or are they both good or both evil, as outside influences affect their decisions? What kinds of relationships do they have with their families? How are their views on life similar or different?

2. Analyze the character of Lady Macbeth. What is her role in Macbeth’s life? How does her role change? Is she an evil human being, or are there other forces that drive her? How does she change? Why? Is she to blame for Macbeth’s demise? If so, explain. If not, who or what is responsible for the tragedy? Also, could such a woman exist in today's society? Would she still be capable of the same power over her husband? Or might she have even more? Explain your response.

3. Write a diary from either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth's point of view. You are writing in the character of Lady Macbeth or Macbeth. Choose 5-6 important events from the play and respond to each event as the character would respond.

4. Is Macbeth purely evil in your opinion? Is he sane? What are the witches’ roles in Macbeth’s actions? Discuss their prophecies and the forces involved to make them come true. Do you think their predictions are what caused Macbeth to behave as he did? Support your opinion with evidence from the play.

5.    How does Shakespeare use the technique of dramatic irony in Macbeth? Give examples from the text to support your response.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Poetry Movements through history.

Throughout history, there have been hundreds of major and minor poetic movements and communities. Major community-based movements – such as the Ancient Greek poetry schools, Provencal literature, Sicilian court poets, Elizabethan and Romantic poets, Victorian poets, American Transcendentalists, Paris expatriate (Surrealist), and Beat poets – changed the course of poetry during and after their respective eras.

SAPPHO – GREEK LYRIC POET (#67 on best poet’s list) Somewhere between 630 and 612 BC


Awed by her splendor 
stars near the lovely 
moon cover their own 
bright faces 
when she 
is roundest and lights 
earth with her silver 



Victorian Poetry

The Victorian Period literally describes the events in the age of Queen Victoria’s reign of 1837-1901. The term Victorian has connotations of repression and social conformity, however in the realm of poetry these labels are somewhat misplaced. The Victorian age provided a significant development of poetic ideals such as the increased use of the Sonnet as a poetic form, which was to influence later modern poets. Poets in the Victorian period were to some extent influenced by the Romantic Poets such as Keats,William Blake, Shelley and W.Wordsworth. Wordsworth was Poet Laureate until 1850 so can be viewed as a bridge between the Romantic period and the Victorian period. Wordsworth was succeeded by Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria’s favourite poet.

Rudyard Kipling (1865 -1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. Many of his stories were based on his life in India. To some Kipling was a prophet of British Imperialism, but whatever his political views, his literary talents are widely admired.

IF (#7 on list of favourite poems)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

- Rudyard Kipling

ROMANTIC POETS - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
   And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
   With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
   All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
   Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
   And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
   If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
   And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
   If thou kiss not me?

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822


Tuesday, September 9, 2014


QUESTION: Who is the most evil character in Macbeth--Macbeth of Lady Macbeth?

RESPOND in analytical essay (PEEL) style.

Not all quotes are referenced. You can look them up yourself!!

YELLOW - broad statement on the topic
BROWN - general statement on the topic
GREEN - plot summary
PINK - thesis
 BLUE - arguments (3) using characters (3)
LINK: link to thesis

In the 15th Century play, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, there are many expressions of evil, but evil is mostly expressed in the characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It is often debated which of the Macbeths was the most evil. At the beginning of the play Macbeth appears a brave soldier, loyal to King Duncan, while Lady Macbeth appears the more evil of the two, overstepping her role in the Great Chain of Being, pushing Macbeth to  murder the king. However, events unfold which reveal that Macbeth is the most evil character in the play, degenerating from the time of the witches' prophecies due to his "vaulting ambition". Once Macbeth hears the witches' prophecies, he vows to murder King Duncan, then Banquo, his best friend must die because of the succession to the throne, then his evil reaches its zenith when he arranges the murder of the good wife, Lady Macduff and her children.

When the play begins, Macbeth appears a brave character who is loyal to his King and cousin, but not for long.  When he meets the weird sisters on the heath when returning from battle, they promise him he will become Thane of Cawdor, then the King hereafter. He sends a letter to Lady Macbeth, telling her of the "fateful news." It is his wife who encourages him to go through with King Duncan's murder, goading his masculinity. He probably would not have killed the king without his wife pushing him, although he admits to "vaulting ambition". Macbeth equivocates, then falls in on fate's side, blaming the "...dagger, which I see before me..." (1.6...) Once he kills the king, even though at first repentant, wishing he could wake King Duncan, he continues on his murderous rampage. He no longer tells his wife of his plans, protecting his "dearest chuck". From this point on, once partners in crime, Macbeth now appears the most evil character of the two, relegating his wife to the subservient position expected of women in Elizabethan times.

Once King Duncan's murder is achieved and Macbeth is crowned king at Scone, he is not content. As the weird sisters prophecied to Banquo that "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none." (1.3.68) Macbeth feels insecure in his position as he feels it is pointless that he has killed the rightful king just so Banquo's sons can inherit the throne. Macbeth does not carry out the murders himself, instead his evil heart plans it; he hires three murderers to do the deed, first blackening Banquo's name to them. He says of his best friend: "Banquo, thy soul's flight, If it find heaven must find it out tonight" (3.1.62-63). Banquo is killed, but Fleance flees, so Macbeth cannot relax in his kingly position. At this stage of the play, evil still drives Macbeth's actions, and he sees the ghost of Banquo at the feast, revealing his guilty conscience at murdering his friend. Lady Macbeth spends the night covering up for her husband's shattered mental state, as Macbeth is the only one who can see the ghost of Banquo. Lady Macbeth protects Macbeth by sending the lords home before Macbeth can reveal his evil acts to them all.

By the time Macbeth decides to kill Lady Macduff due to his suspicions of her husband who has flown to England, he is a seasoned murderer, moving from evil act to evil act. Lady Macduff, although warned of pending disaster, holds her ground, stating "Whither should I fly? I have done no harm." (4.2.82-83) That Lady Macduff is an innocent does not stop Macbeth from sending murderers to kill her and her children. He has become, as Macduff says to Malcolm, "treacherous". Malcolm replies "Macbeth is a tyrant" (4.3.20-21). Macduff, even before hearing that Macbeth has killed his family says, "Not in all the legions of horrid hell can come a devil more damned In evils to top Macbeth." (4.3.63-65).

Macbeth, the play personified evil through the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Once Macbeth murders once, he goes on a rampage unassisted by his wife. Perhaps his most evil act is killing Lady Macduff and her children. When he faces Macduff on the battlefield, he expresses some regret at the evil act. Macduff calls Macbeth a "Hell-hound" (5.8.4) and that is the way Shakespeare crafts his character through the play. Therefore, Macbeth is the most evil character. After her initial involvement in King Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth deteriorates into madness, shocked at her husband's murderous rampage.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


FRAU Diller was a sharp-edged woman with fat glasses and a nefarious glare. She developed this evil look to discourage the very idea of stealing from her shop, which she occupied with soldier-like posture, a refrigerated voice and even breath that smelled like Heil Hitler. The shop itself was white and cold, and completely bloodless. The small house compressed beside it shivered with a little more severity than the other buildings on Himmel Street. Frau Diller administered this feeling, dishing it out as the only free item from her premises. She lived for her shop and her shop lived for the Third Reich. Even when rationing started later in the year, she was known to sell certain hard-to-get items under the counter and donate the money to the Nazi Party. On the wall behind her usual sitting position was a framed photo of the Führer. If you walked into her shop and didn't say Heil Hitler, you wouldn't be served.

(Zusack, pp.55-56)


  1. What sort of a person do you think Frau Diller is from the description in this passage? Quote from the passage to justify your answer.
  2. What does 'a sharp-edged woman' mean?
  3. What literary technique is used in 'fat glasses'?
  4. The author says: 'The shop itself was white and cold, and completely bloodless.' Why do you think he described the shop in such a way? 
  5. What literary technique is used in this passage: 'The small house compressed beside it shivered with a little more severity...' 
  6. Can a small house 'shiver'? Why does the author use this term?
  7. What was the Third Reich? (You may have to google this one if you don't study history).
  8. What term do we use for goods bought under-the-counter?
  9. Who was the Führer? Why was he referred to as such?
  10. What was the significance of the Heil Hitler salute?