Ms. Rosey’s
Guidebook for Success in
Dual Enrollment English II
(Also Known As ENC 1102):
Fall 2014 Version
Warning: Reading of this guidebook (and completion of all activities herein) will definitely increase
student’s intelligence. Use with extreme caution.
Table of Contents
Syllabus for ENC 1102
Journal Topics
Journal Checklist
Notebook Checklist
Old School Topics of Discussion
Old School Group Review Activity
Old School Comparison/Contrast Essay
Comparison/Contrast Brainstorming Chart
Wadsworth: Writing Paragraphs
Wadsworth: Thesis Statements and Formal Outlines
Wadsworth: Commas/Evaluating Sources
Wadsworth: Using Other Punctuation Marks
Wadsworth: Chapter 9 “Using Logic,” Chapter 10
“Writing Argumentative Essays,” and Chapter
39: “Revising Run-Ons”
Wadsworth: True/False on Writing a Research Paper
Wadsworth: Evaluating Internet Sources and Writing
a Research Paper
Instructions for essay on “A Modest Proposal”
Chapter 41 Writing About Literature Activity
Instructions for Short Story Analysis Essay
Poetry Unit Information (including information on
Short Essay #4, Song Presentation, and Poetry Alive!)
Read like a Rock Star Assignments
Read like a Rock Star British Book Selections
Instructions for Literary Analysis Research Paper
Brainstorming Activity on Literary Analysis Research Paper
Instructions for essay on The Importance of Being Earnest
The Glass Menagerie Activities
Scarevenger Hunt Instructions
The Scottish Play: A Study in Three Versions of
Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Macbeth Argument Essay
Facebook News Feed Summary of Macbeth
Shakespeare Insult Kit
Speech on Shakespearean Quote
Spoiler Alert: Notes on Macbeth
p. 3
p. 14
p. 21
p. 23
p. 25
p. 43
p. 44
p. 45
p. 46
p. 47
p. 48
p. 49
p. 50
p. 51
p. 52
p. 54
p. 57
p. 58
p. 59
p. 66
p. 69
p. 75
p. 77
p. 80
p. 91
p. 95
p. 96
p. 100
p. 101
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p. 104
p. 106
Fall 2014
ENC 1102—Freshman English II—3 credit hours*
*This credit is what you would receive at SFCC,
not the credit accorded at SHS.
Instructor: Cheryl A. Rosenbaum
Phone: 471-5500 ext. 277
E-mail: [email protected]
Welcome to ENC 1102! In this course the focus will shift from nonfiction to literature; we
will also continue to improve our writing for the world beyond college.
Catalog Description:
This class is designed to develop your ability to read literature critically and to improve your
ability to write effectively. Emphasis is on style; exposure to various literary genres; and
planning, writing, and documenting short research papers and critical essays. Prerequisite:
Successful completion of ENC 1101 with a grade of C or better. Gordon Rule: requires
college level writing in multiple assignments. (TR)
Successful completion of ENC 1101 or a passing score of a 3 or higher on the exam for
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition.
Course Materials:
Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia. Literature an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and
Writing. 12th ed. New York: Longman, 2013. Print.
Kirszner, Laurie, and Stephen Mandell. The Wadsworth Handbook. 10th ed. Boston:Cengage
Learning, 2013. Print.
Instructional Methods:
Lecture; small group discussion and oral report; large group discussion; online research;
library research;
Course Resources:
You may find the URLs listed here useful for this course. Their relevance and utility will be
discussed during the introduction/orientation session.
 ( to help proof your papers for use of sources
BEFORE you hand them in to the instructor.
 Purdue Online Writing Lab ( to brush up on grammar,
punctuation, and MLA documentation format and style.
 Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Project. (Longview Community College,
Missouri). ( for further explanation on logical
 Mission Critical: The Critical Thinking Home Page. (San Jose State University).
( for further explanation on logical
Class Attendance and Tardies:
Dual Enrollment students are expected to abide by their district’s Code of Conduct.
Course Requirements:
Students will complete a variety of practice writing both in and out of class to meet the
Gordon Rule requirement: paragraphs, free writing, journal writing, and rough drafts. In
addition, students will submit at least four 500-word essays for formal grading by the
instructor per semester. A 1,200-1,500 word research paper will also be required of all
students as the accountability part of the research component of this course per semester.
Final drafts of essays must meet all MLA writing guidelines both for format and
documentation, as applicable to the essay type.
These must be a minimum of 250-350 words per week. These papers will be written using
personal experience. No sources or bibliography will be required; however, you may at
times find it helpful to do some research to acquaint you better with your topic. If such is
the case, remember to use proper documentation whenever you paraphrase, summarize, or
directly quote outside sources. See your handout on Journals for more specific information.
The midterm and final exams will be a combination of objective/subjective items and may
include: multiple choice, T & F, completion, short answer, and essay. More specific
information will be given closer to the exam date. You should be aware that your final
exam with your responses will be submitted to the dean at SFCC to ensure the
validity of this dual enrollment class.
A research paper must be a minimum of 1,200 word, typed, double-spaced, using MLA
format. We will complete a research paper, in addition to other essays, each semester.
Topics will be selected by the students but must be approved by the instructor. It is
strongly encouraged that the student selects a topic in which he or she is interested. The
paper will include a minimum of seven (7) sources and a bibliography page. Because this
paper will require much structural and grammatical revision, it is imperative that the
student complete the rough draft of this project in a timely manner.
Upon completion of the research paper, students will work collaboratively to present an
abstract of their research papers. To this end, students are encouraged to use a variety of
media, such as Power Point, web pages, and other visual aids. Students must participate in
this activity to receive full credit for the research paper.
These in-class exercises will be graded largely upon the student’s understanding of the
concept being emphasized at the time.
1. You will be expected to be WELL PREPARED FOR AND TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE in class
sessions. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, ASK! It is preferable that you speak
up and are wrong than for you not to speak at all. You will need to have all reading and
work done at the assigned time or else. Since so much of what we learn in here will be
through group discussion, peer editing, and other such cooperative learning activities, this is
the year to come out of your shell!
2. Late work is not accepted.*
3. Make-up work is your responsibility. When you return from an EXCUSED absence look
over my agendas for the days you missed. Then speak to me about making up the work. If
you do not speak to me, I will simply assume you want a 0 for the assignment we did the
day you were absent. I will not remind you if you need to make-up a test or quiz. You
need to get your make-up work into me in a reasonable amount of time. For example, if
you were absent on Monday, get your make-up assignment on Tuesday, and turn it in on
4. If a student knows ahead of time that he or she will be absent on a day when
an assignment is due (for example, a pre-arranged absence or field trip), it is the
student’s responsibility to turn in the assignment prior to the due date, or send
the assignment to the teacher with another student or a parent. Any work may be
taken to the school’s office and put in the teacher’s mailbox.
If a student misses class the day an assignment is due but is on campus at any
time during that day (for example, missing part of the day due to a half-day field
trip), the student is responsible for bringing the assignment to the teacher or
getting it to the teacher. Failure to do so will result in a grade of 0.
Each nine weeks, I allow you to turn in one assignment late within 24 hours without
penalty. You must complete an explanation on why it is late plus a 250 word response to a
question PLUS the assignment itself within 24 hours to The instructions
for the Whoops! Pass are given in detail on my website under the heading “Additional
Helpful Information” toward the bottom of my webpage. If you do not use it, you will
receive 10 points extra credit at the end of the nine weeks.
Another method to ensure you remember all major due dates I have incorporated is the use
of Remind101, which is a tool that allows me to send you a text message to your phone to
remind you of major due dates. (But please keep in mind when you sign up I will not
actually know your phone number NOR—more importantly—will you know mine. It is a
computer program that allows me to send you a message.) You can sign-up for this by
doing the following:
 Send a text message to 832-900-2489 with the message: @04476
 Once you do this, you will be prompted to give your name
 Once you send back the second message, you are registered with the class
All grades are done on a point system. In-class assignments and some homework
assignments are given a check plus (10 points), a check (8 points), check minus (5 points),
or 0; if it is to be worth more I will warn you ahead of time. Your weekly journal
assignment is worth 10 points. Group activities are usually worth 25 points. Quizzes are
participation grade is worth 100 points per nine weeks. Tests are worth 100 points or more.
Notebooks are worth a minimum of 110 points each time they are collected. In-class
essays and short essays are worth 75 points. Longer essays and research papers will be
worth 150-200 points.
You are required to have a notebook that you bring to class every day. Blank paper must
be kept in the notebook for journal entries, lecture notes, vocabulary and writing
assignments. All other class handouts must be kept in the notebook. I will collect these
notebooks at the end of each nine weeks. You will need a one-inch three ring binder. The
notebook will be collected as followed:
Notebook for 1st Nine Weeks- due October 21 (for __ day) or October 22 (for __ day)
Notebook for 2nd Nine Weeks- due January 8 (for __ day) or January 9 (for __ day)
Requirements for the Notebook:
1. Notebook must be a folder with three brackets and pockets.
2. The notebook must contain notebook paper divided by tabs into these sections:
A) HANDOUTS- Your guidebook should be in your handout section.
B) ASSIGNMENTS--includes homework, vocabulary, in-class work, and essays.
3. Your front pocket should hold your Journal Checklists (which needs to be filled out BY
YOU at the end of each nine weeks) and your Notebook Checklists (which will be filled out
BY ME when I grade your notebook). It should be labeled Journal/Notebook Checklists.
4. The front of the notebook must be clearly marked in the upper right hand corner with
the following:
A) Name
B) Subject
C) Period
FORMATTING OF PAPERS (including in-class writings, assignments, formal essays,
and journals)
All papers turned in must have the following in the upper left hand corner of the paper:
A) Your Name*
B) Ms. Rosenbaum
C) Class Name- Period
D) Date Due
All papers must have a title for the assignment centered on the page. The title should not
be underlined, in bold, or in italics. You should have a creative, appropriate, and specific
title for each assignment.
Any typed assignment for this class should be done in Times New Roman 12 point font, be
double spaced, have one inch margins around the entire page, and have a heading in the
upper right hand corner with your last name and page number of the assignment.
All formal essays, journals, and many other assignments will be turned into You will do peer editing of essays using turnitin. The discussion board
feature of turnitin will also be used for certain situations. Finally, all papers will be graded
directly on turnitin using its GradeMark feature. Unless I tell you otherwise, you will not
need to print off a copy of any assignment turned in to turnitin. I will warn you ahead of
time what assignments should be turned into (Note: Make sure
when you submit an assignment to that you choose UPLOAD
DOCUMENT rather than copy and paste. If you upload your document, it will
appear EXACTLY the same as it did on your computer. When you copy and paste,
it changes the font to a notepad document, and this will lower your grade for not
having your paper properly formatted.)
You need to sign-up for the class by going to and entering the following:
Class id: 7938309
Password: awesome
*Note: Please note this class id is different from the one that you turned your summer
reading assignment into, so be sure to add yourself to this class as soon as possible. Also
please note that since you are allowed to be anonymous as you peer edit a classmate’s
essay on turnitin, I will allow you to make up a pseudonym when you submit a draft of an
essay that will be peer edited on I will warn you ahead of time if what
you submit will be peer edited.
1. Follow directions first time given.
2. Be prepared: in seat, on time, with materials.
3. Show respect for the rights, property, and feelings of others.
4. Stay on task.
5. Speak only at appropriate times.
1st time—Warning
2nd time--One detention
3rd time--Two detentions and parental contact
4th time--Referral to office
Severe Clause--Immediate Referral to office
Verbal praise
Written praise
80-89= B
70-79= C
60-69= D
If at any time you need help, please feel free to make an appointment to speak with me or
e-mail me.
Academic Ethics Policy:
The faculty of SFCC is committed to a policy of honesty in academic affairs. Conduct for
which you may be subject to administrative and/or disciplinary penalties, up to and
including suspension or expulsion, includes:
1. Dishonesty consisting of cheating of any kind with respect to examinations, course
assignments, or illegal possession of examination papers. If you help another to cheat, you
will be subject to the same penalties as the student assisted.
2. Plagiarism consisting of the deliberate use and appropriation of another’s work without
indentifying the source and the passing off such work as your own. If you fail to give full
credit for ideas or materials taken from another, you have plagiarized.
Consequences of cheating or plagiarism:
The instructor may take academic action consistent with college policy that may range from
loss of credit for a specific assignment, examination, or project to removal from the course
with a grade of “F.” Your instructor and you should seek to resolve the matter to your
mutual satisfaction. Failing this, your instructor or you may request action from the
appropriate chair, dean/director, and the Vice President for Educational and Student
Services (see Grade Appeals in College Catalog) who adjudicates on the basis of college
D2L (Desire to Learn):
SFCC uses D2L as its course management software. Each class has a page on D2L. A grade
book will be maintained for your class on D2L. It is easy to contact the instructor and fellow
students through D2L. If you are not already aware of and comfortable with all of the
features of D2L or if you do not have a login name and password, please log on to and click on the Panther Den link. Then choose the “New user” link.
This page will connect you to the self-guided tutorials. At the end of the tutorials, you will
be directed to call the eLearning Help Desk and receive your login information. Be aware
that D2L stores access records, quiz scores, e-mail postings, discussion postings, and chat
room conversations. It is very important to log off D2L when you are finished; if you don’t,
a person using the computer after you will have access to you course materials, your e-mail
account, and your confidential record. Protect your password. (Please keep in mind that in a
dual enrollment class grades will be available on Pinnacle, plus information on classroom
assignments and due dates is accessible on your teacher’s website.)
Students with Disabilities:
In keeping with the College’s open door philosophy and in accordance with the Americans
with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, SFCC provides
reasonable accommodations to educational and training opportunities for otherwise qualified
individuals with documented disabilities. It is the responsibility of the student or prospective
student to self-identify with the Disabilities Specialist and provide appropriate
documentation. Individuals who chose not to self-identify may be ineligible for services
and/or accommodations. Services include but are not limited to: admission and registration
assistance, orientation, note taking, tutoring, test accommodations, readers, audio books,
course substitutions and assistive technology. For more information, contact the Disabilities
Specialist through: the Web site,; e-mail at
[email protected]; voice/TDD (863)453-661 ext. 7331; or in person at
the Catherine P. Cornelius Student Services Complex, Suite B152, Highlands Campus.
College-Wide Outcomes:
This course supports the following College-wide Student Learning Outcomes (SLO-CoWs):
1. Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate (read, write, speak, and listen)
2. Students will demonstrate the ability to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply
3. Students will demonstrate the ability to find, evaluate, organize, and use
4. Prepare students to participate actively as informed and responsible citizens in
social, cultural, global and environmental matters.
Course Specific Outcomes:
The students will be able to accomplish the following:
1 Think and read critically through analysis, evaluation, and persuasion;
2 Write critical analyses, evaluations, and arguments;
3 Do close readings of short stories, poetry, plays, and literary criticism;
4 Use and demonstrate knowledge of literary terms and how they relate to the
nature of fiction, poetry, and drama;
5 Examine, discuss, and write about social issues reflected in literary works;
6 Examine, discuss, and write about gender perspectives reflected in literary
7 Examine, discuss, and write about ethnicity reflected in literary works;
8 Demonstrate critical and expressive thinking/writing in a structured journal;
9 Demonstrate research skills through written exercises and library research;
10 Demonstrate analytical, persuasive and research documentation skills through an
analytical/persuasive research paper;
11 Participate in small-group discussion, oral reports, literary work analyses, student
essay evaluation, and outside readings on gender, ethnicity, and social issues;
12 Demonstrate objective and critical knowledge on quizzes and examinations:
13 Relate class materials and activities to other courses and the everyday world
through discussion, audio-visual media, and printed media.
First Nine Weeks Focus:
Week One(Aug 20-22):
-Take a quiz on Old School (first day of class)
-Work on Short Essay #1 on Old School: Comparison/Contrast Fiction Analysis,
which will be due to by _________
-Complete cooperative learning activities on Old School
-Go over concepts in The Wadsworth Handbook on grammar, punctuation, and MLA
Documentation Style
Week Two (Aug 25-29):
-Work on and share Old School Group Activity
-Complete peer editing and final draft of Old School essay
Week Three (Sept 2-5):
-Test on Old School and The Wadsworth Handbook concepts
-Begin unit on The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century: 1660–1800
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary- Do group assignment where you come up with your
own dictionary definitions
-Watch satirical video from The Onion and Stephen Colbert
-Bring Literature by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia to class as instructed by your professor
(Occasionally you will need to bring this book to class more often when we read longer
works; you will be warned ahead of time when to bring this book.)
-Write Short Essay #2: Fiction analysis/satiric essay in a style similar to A Modest
Week Four (Sept 8-12):
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Fiction Selections from Chapters 110/Discussion/Assignment
-A Clean Well-Lighted Place (p. 167) by Ernest Hemingway
-A Rose for Emily (p. 31) by William Faulkner- Write a story with your own creepy
ending and share with two classmates
-A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (p. 364) -Write your own illustrated fable in
a group.
-Read Chapter 41 “Writing about Literature” in Literature; do group activity; self-analysis
-Read Chapter 42 “Writing About a Story” in Literature; do partner activity
Week Five (Sept 15-19):
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Poetry Selections from Chapters 11-14/
-A Good Man is Hard to Find (p. 420)-Read critics’ analyses of it; write three quotes
from story and two from critics, plus a paragraph of how you would analyze it.
-The Yellow Wallpaper (p. 473)-Pick out quotes to analyze and create your own
yellow wallpaper in a group.
-The Rich Brother (p. 653)
-Write Short Essay #3: Short Story Analysis of one of the stories from Literature
Week Six (Sept. 22-26):
-Test on Short Stories/Restoration Unit (NOTE: All tests will cover materials from both the
British literature covered and the selections from Literature by Kennedy and Gioia)
-Finish peer editing and final draft of Short Story Analysis
-Begin Poetry Unit, by reading:
-Those Winter Sundays (p. 677)- Write a poem about a childhood memory involving
a relative
-Ask Me (p. 685)
-Doo Wop (p. 825)- Write a serious or comic poem which contains no more than two
words per line
-White Lies (p. 693)
-Dulce et Decorum Est (p. 709)
-Dog Haiku (p.696)-Write a haiku
-Silence (p. 718)-Write a poem told largely in quotations
-Grass (p. 723)
-Jabberwocky (p. 734)-Write a poem filled with nonsense words
Week Seven (Sept 29-Oct 3):
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Poetry Selections from Chapters 19-22/
-Richard Cory (p. 795)
-Ballad of Birmingham (p. 800)
-The Times They Are a-Changin (p. 804)
-next to of course america i (p. 744)- Write a poem with no capitalization or
-Assign and work on Song Presentation
-Share key poems from The Romantic Period: 1798–1832
-Poetry of William Blake- Write a poem on an injustice or emotion.
-Poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- Watch part of
DVD presentation of it; Write a poem of no more than four stanzas that alternates a
rhyme in the second and fourth line.
-Poetry of George Gordon, Lord Byron- Write a poem about someone’s (who is
known to you personally) inner or outer beauty.
Week Eight (Oct 6-10):
-Assign Read like a Rock Star British Literature book (you will choose a book from the list in
your Guidebook on p. ____); we will do Read like a Rock Star from ________school wide,
but we will adjust these dates for us in order to complete our British Literature book by the
time we need to start your literary analysis research paper on it.
-Share Song Presentations
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Poetry Selections from Chapters 23-25/
-The Fish (p. 754)
-Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter (p. 762)
-Metaphors (p. 775)
-Turtle (p. 786)
-Recital (p. 814)
-Go over Chapter 43 on p. 1933-1954; look over poems in Literature to see what would be
good to write a poem analysis on; you may also choose poems from your Elements of
Literature book
-Assign and write Short Essay #4: Poem Analysis of poem/s in Elements of
Literature or from Kennedy and Gioia’s Literature
Week Nine (Oct 14-17)
-Complete peer editing on Poem Analysis
-Assign and present Poetry Alive!
-Notebook is due October 16 or October 17 (depending if you have class A or B day);
favorite journal is due to discussion board of on October 18
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Poetry Selections from Chapters 26-29/
The Hippopotamus (p. 820)
We Real Cool (p. 833)
Do not go gentle into that good night (p. 864)
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (p. 878)
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a tortilla (p. 958)
Swan and Shadow (p. 883)
Concrete Cat (p. 885)
First Love: A Quiz (p. 918)- Write one of the following poems after reading all of
these: A) a poem that is thirteen ways of looking at… B) a concrete poem or C) a
poem in the form of a quiz
Cinderella (p. 919)- Write a poem on a fairy tale character of a parody poem
America (p. 892)
Learning to love America (p. 900)
Write your own poem about America
Second Nine Weeks Focus:
Week One (Oct 20-24):
-Finish Poetry Unit and take test
-Read Chapter 44 “Writing about a Play” in Literature; do partner activity
- Read The Sound of a Voice- Pay attention as we read to the symbolism of sound, flowers
and the themes of isolation and fear of falling in love
-Read Samuel Beckett’s Come and Go in Elements of Literature (p. 1342)- Write your own
Theatre of the Absurd play—on your own or with a group—and perform it in front of the
-Read Harold Pinter’s That’s All (p. 1350)- Write a brief dialogue between two people
discussing a third person; try to shape all three characters through what is said and unsaid;
use the line “That’s all” in your dialogue; perform it when finished.
Week Two (Oct 27-Oct 31):
-Complete Scarevenger Hunt
-Work on projects/assignments and complete quiz for Read like a Rock Star book
-Begin reading The Importance of Being Earnest
-Assign Literary Analysis Research Paper and pass out brainstorming chart on it;
do research
-Work on Annotated Works Cited for Literary Analysis Research Paper
-Complete annotation of literary criticisms and put onto brainstorming chart; complete
paper proposal on literary analysis paper
-Read Chapter 45 “Writing a Research Paper” in Literature; do partner activity
Week Three (Nov 3-7):
-Finish reading The Importance of Being Earnest and take test
-Do a comic sketch on The Importance of Being Earnest in a group
-Assign and finish Short Essay #5: Drama Analysis of The Importance of Being
Week Four (Nov 10-14):
-Work on rough draft of literary analysis research paper
Week Five (Nov 17-21):
-Literature by Kennedy and Gioia Selection- Begin Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie
-Complete peer editing and conference with teacher on rough draft of literary analysis
research paper
Week Six (Dec 1-5):
-Assign Then and Now Powerpoint (a picture of you “then” as a young child; a picture of you
now detailing your plans for college and after)
-Finish reading The Glass Menagerie and complete Socratic Seminar on it
-Work on performance of a scene and Chinese Lantern Activity for The Glass Menagerie
-Work on final draft and Powerpoint Presentation for Literary Analysis- final draft due at end
of week
Week Seven (Dec 8-12):
-Presentations of Literary Analysis Research Paper
-Begin watching Macbeth and completing activities on it
Week Eight (Dec 15-19):
-Continue watching Macbeth and completing activities on it
Week Nine (January 6-9):
-Notebook is due January 8 or 9 (depending if you have class A or B day); favorite journal is
due to discussion board on January 10
-Finish Macbeth activities
-Work on Final Exam Review Guide, including choices of essays on Macbeth or The Glass
Week Ten (Jan 12-16)
-Then and Now Powerpoint is Shared
-Final Exams
Dual Enrollment English II
Journal Assignment
Directions: For every Friday by 11:59 pm in this class, you will submit between 250-350
words to toward your semester long journal assignment. You may
choose between one to three topics per week, but you should not repeat any topic during
the school year. You need to have a heading on your paper listing the journal #, then write
the number of the question, then your entry. (Please see my journal template on my
website if you need assistance setting this up.) You may choose to work ahead (since all the
journals for the year are already listed on, but you must make sure you
submit your journal every Friday for the correct date (regardless if you were absent or
not on Friday—this is a college class!) in order to get your 10 points credit per week. I will
read these journal entries directly off of and give a grade accordingly,
which will be calculated as part of your notebook grade. These journals will be a way for you
to creatively express yourself and practice writing fluency. It should be an enjoyable
experience (except for those of you who choose to start writing your weekly journal at
11:54 pm the night it is due).
The individual journals will be due for this semester as followed:
1 due August 29
2 due September 5
3 due September 12
4 due September 19
5 due September 26
6 due October 3
7 due October 10
8 due October 17
9 due October 24
10 due October 31
11 due November 7
12 due November 14
13 due November 21
14 due December 5
15 due December 12
16 due December 19
Your journal topics are as followed:
1. Describe your first brush with danger.
2. Tell the story of a job interview that goes badly. (The more your character wants the
job, the better the story will be.)
3. According to officials at Graceland, Elvis Presley receives an estimated one hundred
valentines every year. Write a story about one.
4. Write an argument between two characters that begins in the middle of the argument.
5. Imagine that you could wake up tomorrow in someone else’s body. Whose would it be?
How would your life change? What are some of the first things you’d do?
6. Write about a near-death experience.
7. Write a story about the 1980s (or any other time period in the past). Use as many
period elements as you can.
8. Since 1980, more than fifty forgeries have been discovered at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art. Write about one of them.
9. Write about the biggest secret you failed to keep.
10. Write a story set in the kitchen of a fast-food restaurant.
11. According to the National Coffee Association, there are more than 300,000 Americans
who drink more than ten cups of coffee a day. Describe one of them.
12. Chronicle the longest amount of time you’ve ever gone without sleeping.
13. Write about your first artistic expression.
14. Describe the most disappointing gift you have ever received. What did the gift reveal
about the giver?
15. Describe the worst driver you have ever known.
16. Think of a person you don’t like, and describe what you might say if you had to share
an elevator ride together with this person. Then describe what happens when the elevator
breaks down. For six hours.
17. Tell a story that begins with the discovery of a ransom note.
18. Write a story in the form of a political apology.
19. Describe the worst time you ever put your foot in your mouth.
20. Seventeen percent of Americans claim they have seen a ghost. Describe one of their
encounter, or one of your own.
21. Describe the youngest baby you ever felt, and how he or she felt in your arms.
22. Write about a time you’ve been lost.
23. Write about a beauty pageant without using stereotypes.
24. Describe the worst date of your life.
25. By the early 1990s more than 30,000 Americans held reservations from Pan-Am
airlines for a trip to the moon. Write about one of these people.
26. Set a small mirror beside your desk and write about your reflection. Describe how you
might be perceived by a stranger passing you on the street—what assumptions might he or
she make about you, based on your appearance?
27. Describe the largest crowd you’ve ever been a part of.
28. Write a story that begins with the words, “Why didn’t you call me?”
29. Tell a story in the form of a prayer.
30. More than 10 million prescription medications are filled incorrectly every year. Write
about one of them.
31. If you were going to be marooned on a tropical island with one person, who would you
want it to be? Write scenes that take place five hours after the shipwreck, five weeks after
the shipwreck, and five years after the shipwreck.
32. Describe the last time you were physically involved in a fight.
33. Begin a story with a character who has lost something important to them.
34. Invent a character who has won 76 million dollars in the Florida State Lottery. What is
the first thing he or she buys? How much is given to charity? How long before an exboyfriend or ex-girlfriend re-enters their lives?
35. Describe the most boring event you have ever suffered through.
36. Write from the point-of-view of someone who committed murder today. Do not
mention the murder.
37. Write about the first time you defied your parents.
38. Tell the story of how your parents became engaged.
39. Write about your worst habit.
40. Create a character who is trying to gain access to a club or organization.
41. Create a character who is falsely accused of a crime.
42. Update a classic fairy tale for readers of the 21st century.
43. Write about the black sheep in your family. What is your opinion of him or her?
44. How well do you respond to criticism?
45. Describe your most embarrassing experience.
46. Trace the journey of a five dollar bill through the lives of five different owners. What
was exchanged during the transactions? How much (or how little) did these transactions
mean to each of the people involved?
47. Tell the story about “the one who got away.”
48. Write about a physical trait you would have loved to have changed in middle school.
49. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, more than 100 people have
registered on a waiting list to see an execution. Write about one of them.
50. Describe a time when you pretended to be someone you are not.
51. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken.
52. Write a story that begins, “The last time I saw my mother was fifteen years ago…”
53. Write a story that begins, “Three days passed before they found the body…”
54. Write about the worst driving you’ve ever done.
55. Thirty-four percent of new American school teachers say they plan to quit their
profession within their first five years. Write about one of them.
56. Invent a character that must choose between the lesser of two evils.
57. Write a love story in MySpace. Have the story consist entirely of alternating messages.
58. Describe a time you’ve settled an argument between two friends.
59. Write about a library or bookstore that has a special significance to you. What authors
did you discover there?
60. Invent a character whose life is governed by Murphy’s Law (that is, anything that can
go wrong will go wrong).
61. Write a story about a phone call that begins at three o’clock in the morning?
62. Write about the worst lie you ever told someone? Did they find out? What was the
63. Write from the point of view of a character on his or her deathbed.
64. Write about your favorite childhood toy.
65. Write about a character that is granted three wishes.
66. Write about a victim of “year-end fiscal cutbacks and corporate downsizing.”
67. Write about a wedding in which the bride or groom changes their mind.
68. Tell a story in the form of a love letter.
69. Tell a story that centers around a recipe.
70. Describe an encounter with a celebrity.
71. Write about the most serious injury or illness you have ever faced.
72. Invent a character that sees a phone number on the wall of a bathroom. Describe what
happens when he or she dials the number.
73. Describe the most meaningful gift you have ever received. What does it reveal about
your relationship to the giver?
74. Describe your favorite experience with Mother Nature.
75. Describe the secret life of a school bus driver.
76. More than 25,000 Americans seek help each year with gambling addiction. Write about
one of them.
77. Describe your favorite family holiday, and explain what made it so special for you.
78. Describe a bad hair day.
79. According to the Gallup Organization, more than one million American dogs have been
named as beneficiaries in a will. Write about one of their owners.
80. Write about your earliest childhood memory.
81. There are approximately 3500 members of the International Flat Earth Society (people
who insist the Earth is flat). Write about one of them.
82. Write about the most important event you have ever been late to.
83. Tell the story behind your nickname or the most unusual nickname you have ever
84. Write about your greatest childhood fear.
85. If you could script the plot for the dream you will have tonight, what would it be?
86. Write a dialogue between a radio talk show host and a troubled caller.
87. Every year, more than four hundred Americans are injured or killed by lightning. Write
about one of them.
88. Write about a childhood experience that made you cry.
89. Write about the most difficult phone call you’ve ever had to make.
90. Write about a dream or goal you failed to achieve. What went wrong? How did this
experience change you?
91. Check the horoscope in today’s newspaper, and use any of the twelve forecasts as a
basis for a character.
92. Describe the unhealthiest meal you’ve ever eaten, and how you felt after eating it.
93. Write a description of your dream automobile.
94. Write a story that begins with an explosion.
95. If you won the Texas lottery, what would you do?
96. Why do you think some people don't exercise their right to vote?
97. What is your favorite Disney character or movie and why is it your favorite?
98. My full name and how it was decided on
99. I am the one who....
100. First Grade Memories
101. In the left corner, behind the filing cabinet.....
102. The Holiday I Wish We Had
103. Summer Memories
104. My Dad
105. My Mom
106. My Grandma
107. My Grandpa
108. If I was President of the United States...
109. Bugs
110. In 20 Years I'd Like to Be....
111. It was so funny when...
112. Good things about me
113. When I get to college, I will....
114. The best book I ever read...
115. I'm thankful for...
116. My hero
117. I wish I was there when....
118. What My Best Friend and I Have in Common
119. Something people usually don't notice about me is...
120. You are a small animal at a historical event. Tell what is happening.
121. Write an alphabet journal entry 26 sentences long, with each sentence starting with
the alphabet letter as it appears in sequence.
122. Make a list of all the words that are related to or describe heat. Write a story about
Florida in the summer using these words.
123. Write about places you have never been to, but want to go to.
124. Write about people you don't know, but would like to know.
125. Write about things you have never done, but would like to do (conduct an orchestra,
126. What if our school classes only went until noon each day?
127. I Did Something Really Nice
128. Observe at least 5 things you see happen on your way home from school. Write about
129. What does a classroom sound like?
130. What is a typical day in the school cafeteria?
131. Write about a perfect day.
132. What I Would Change About My School
133. What I Would Change About My World
134. Where Would I Go in a Time Machine
135. Give advice to a new student who will start school at SHS next year
136. I'll never forget the day ______(teacher's name) did __________
137. Some of the richest times in your life can come from your quiet thinking and/or
praying alone time. Discuss these times in your life.
138. Review the last movie you saw.
139. Describe the BEST ice cream and tell why you feel that way
140. What is an experience you would hate to repeat?
141. What is the ideal age to be? Why?
142. Do you accept yourself as you are, or would you like to be someone else?
143. Answer this question," Have I in any way done something that has hurt my parents?"
144. "How I think will determine how I live." Do you agree or disagree? Explain
145. Describe a summer thunderstorm
146. Describe the plight of an animal caught in a forest fire.
147. Tell abut a ride on the most exciting amusement park ride you have ever ridden.
148. Write about an Old West shoot-out in the streets of a western town
149. How might an astronaut feel that discovers that he/she will have to return to earth
early because of a rocket malfunction?
150. Describe the actions of a person who has just hit his or her thumb with a hammer
151. Describe the feeling of being chased in a dream
152. Tell about the moment when a person realizes that he or she has forgotten to do a
major assignment that is due today.
153. Describe the actions of an athlete in the final moments of a close contest when he or
she makes a winning (or losing) shot, play, move, or effort.
154. It isn't fair....
155. Write about some compliments people have given you
156. Write about some compliments you have given others recently.
157. Create a menu from a fictitious restaurant and describe the entrees.
158. The dispute over comic books. Are they good or bad?
159. Should grocery stores continue to throw away good food each day?
160. Do you get enough sleep? How or why not?
161. A horrible babysitting experience was when…
162. What one non-living item would you take from your house if it caught on fire?
163. You’ve landed on another planet. Tell the inhabitants all about earth.
164. If you were your teacher, how would you treat you?
165. What if your teacher fell asleep in class.
166. How would you think your parents’ view would change if they walked in your shoes for
a week?
167. List 25 uses for a toothbrush.
168. Assume you are the last person on Earth and you have been granted one wish. What
would it be?
169. Imagine a world that contained no written language. What would be different?
170. If you could step back in time to re-live one day, what would you do differently?
171. Imagine you are 25 years old. How will you describe yourself as you are today?
172. Imagine you had a hundred dollars, but you couldn't keep it. You had to give it away
to a person or charity. Who would you give it to? What would you want them to do with it?
173. Describe one time when you were brave.
174. If you could cook any meal for your family, what would you cook? Describe the meal
and tell how you would make it.
175. Describe your favorite character from a book, a movie, or television.
176. If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be? Describe the pet and how
you would take care of it.
177. Do you have any brothers or sisters? If you do, tell what they're like. If not, tell
whether or not you would like to have a brother or sister.
178. If you could have lunch with any famous person who would it be? What would you talk
about with this person?
179. Describe the oldest person you know.
180. Describe the youngest person you know.
181. Do you think a monkey would make a good pet? Explain why or why not.
182. How old were you four years ago? Describe some things you can do now that you
could not do then.
183. Imagine you worked at a football stadium. What would your job be? (examples:
quarterback, cheerleader, coach, referee, ticket seller) Describe what you would do while
you were on the job.
184. What do you like best about your home?
185. If you could be on any game show, what would it be? Describe what happens when
you're on the show.
186. Describe your favorite season (fall, spring, summer, or winter). Tell what kinds of
things you like to do during that season.
187. If you could spend an afternoon with one member of your extended family, who would
it be? Tell why you chose this person and tell what you do together.
188. Which superpower would you most like to have-- invisibility, super strength, or the
ability to fly? Describe what kids of things you would do with your powers.
189. Think of a time when you've won something. Tell what you won and how you won it.
190. Invent a new kind of sandwich. Describe what is on it and how you would make it.
191. Describe one thing you're really good at.
192. Imagine you were twenty feet tall. Describe what life would be like.
193. Take out a photo album or magazine. Find the 14th photo (counting any way you like)
and write the story of that photo.
194. Find a poem that you like. Make the last line of that poem the first line of your poem.
195. Make a list of 40 things that have happened to you this month.
196. Write a story about someone you know who is weird.
197. Where do you go when you want to get away from the pressures of life?
198. Rewrite “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” from the perspective of one of the dwarfs.
199. Imagine your life is now a book. Write a blurb for the back cover.
200. Write about the easiest decision you ever had to make.
201. Write an excuse for not working today.
202. Use the following words in a story: hypocrite, cookie jar, telephone, city,
203. List fifteen simple pleasures. Pick one and write about it.
204. Begin a story with “I wish someone had told me…”
205. List 50 things you’d never do.
206. Write a pure dialogue story. No narration, no description, just dialogue.
207. Write a story 200 years from now about a day in the life of a window washer.
208. Write a feature story about the following: Giant Flies Invade Norway!
209. Write a story about a beggar who loves to hear himself sing.
Topics 1-94 are from The Writer’s Block by Jason Rehkulak
Topics 95-161 are from
Topics 162-171 are from
Topics 172-192 are from
Topics 192-209 are from
DISCLAIMER: Course policies, procedures, and schedule may be changed at any time at
the discretion of the instructor.
JOURNAL Checklist for 1st Nine Weeks
Directions: Take the following four pages and put it into the JOURNAL Checklist section of
your notebook. This will be used to grade your notebook every nine weeks and will help you
keep track of the Journal and Quote topics you have completed. Keep in mind that your word
count will be individually verified by me (and a teaching assistant who will help me grade these),
so if you give an inaccurate word count it will affect your grade.
JOURNAL # 1 due August 29
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _____;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 2 due September 5
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _____;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 3 due September 12
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 4 due September 19
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 5 due September 26
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 6 due October 3
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 7 due October 10
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 8 due October 17
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
Remember your notebook is due October 20 (for __ Day) or October 21 (for __
JOURNAL Checklist for Second Nine Weeks
JOURNAL # 9 due October 24
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 10 due October 31
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 11 due November 7
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 12 due November 14
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 13 due November 21
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 14 due December 5
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 15 due December 12
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
JOURNAL # 16 due December 19
-I did / did not complete this JOURNAL. I wrote on journal topic/s _______;
my word count is ______.
Remember your notebook is due January 8 (for ___ day) or January 9 (for ___ day)!
1st 9 WEEKS NOTEBOOK CHECK ON OCTOBER 20 (for __ day) or OCTOBER 21 (for
___ day):
(Warning: This checklist will be filled out by the teacher or teacher assistant, so please leave
it blank. Remember your JOURNALs will be graded for proper formatting, word length, and
intelligence of your responses.)
JOURNAL #1= ______/10points
JOURNAL #2= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #3= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #4= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #5= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #6= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #7= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #8= ______/10 points
Name/Subject/Period on Cover=______/2 points
Notebook is divided and labeled with two
tabs entitled (in this order: Handouts,
=______ /3 points
Guidebook is in Handout Section=______/5 points
JOURNAL Checklist is filled out properly=______/10 points
Proper Papers in Each Section=______/10 points
___ Day):
(Warning: This checklist will be filled out by the teacher or teacher assistant, so please leave
it blank. Remember your JOURNALs will be graded for proper formatting, word length, and
intelligence of your responses.)
JOURNAL #9= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #10= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #11= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #12= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #13= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #14= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #15= ______/10 points
JOURNAL #16= ______/10 points
Name/Subject/Period on Cover=______/2 points
Notebook is divided and labeled with two
tabs entitled (in this order: Handouts,
=______ /3 points
Guidebook is in Handout Section=______/5 points
JOURNAL Checklist is filled out properly=______/10 points
Proper Papers in Each Section=______/10 points
Old School by Tobias Woolf Topics of Discussion
(Source: National Endowment of the Arts “Big Read” Program on Old School)
Reader's Guide – Introduction
It is November 1960, and the unnamed narrator of Tobias Wolff's Old School (2003) is in his
final year at an elite Eastern prep school. Proud of his independence but trying to fit in and
advance himself, he conceals the fact that his ancestry is partly Jewish. Eventually, he—and
we—discover that almost everyone on campus has some closely guarded secrets.
Every year, the school invites three famous writers to visit and give a public talk. In anticipation
of these visits, senior students submit their own poems or stories to a competition, and the author
of the winning submission is granted a private interview with the writer. One of the novel's most
intriguing elements is the presentation of these writers—Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest
Hemingway—and its shrewd, penetrating assessment of their works and personalities.
The lives of the narrator and his friends revolve around these visits, and the competitions
produce pressures and strains in their relationships, raising issues of honesty and self-deception.
In his zeal to win an audience with his idol, Hemingway, the narrator will plagiarize someone
else's work, an action with profound consequences—and not for him alone. In the end, we find
out what he has made of his life many years later, and what has happened in the lives of some
classmates and teachers. A surprising final chapter enriches our understanding of the novel's
deepest meanings.
Another of Old School's many pleasures is the way it conveys the significance of literature to our
lives, raising fundamental questions of who we are and how we live. As one of the English
teachers says, "One could not live in a world without stories… Without stories one would hardly
know what world one was in."
The unsparing but sympathetic insight of Tobias Wolff's acclaimed short stories, the emotional
honesty and directness of his classic memoir This Boy's Life (1989), and the precise, elegant
craftsmanship that characterizes both his fiction and nonfiction—all these qualities come
together to make Old School one of Wolff's most satisfying books.
"One of the things that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they got
wrong in real life by writing about them."
—Tobias Wolff in an interview with Dan Stone
Major Characters in the Novel
The Narrator
An outsider in the cloistered East Coast world of the prep school he attends, Old School's
unnamed narrator wants desperately to belong. His literary ambitions will bring him the
distinction he craves, but in a very different way from what he had imagined.
Bill White
Bill is the narrator's roommate. Along with their passion for writing, the two boys share the
unspoken secret of their Jewish heritage. Bill has another secret, one that haunts him more and
more throughout the novel.
Jeff Purcell
Another classmate and friend of the narrator's, he has a privileged, upper-class background.
Proud, stubborn, and frequently contemptuous of everything and everyone, he nonetheless has a
fundamental core of decency and generosity of spirit.
Robert Ramsey
One of the English teachers, Mr. Ramsey is disliked by many of his students. However, by the
end of the novel the narrator sees him as compassionate and wise.
Susan Friedman
Susan is the author of the story that the narrator plagiarizes. When he finally meets her, he finds
her to be "an extraordinary person," and she shows him a very different perspective on some of
the things most important to him.
Dean Makepeace
A "regal but benign" figure to the narrator, the Dean seems remote and assured. But his personal
crisis of integrity underscores some of the novel's deepest themes.
Three of the most famous American writers of the twentieth century appear, directly or
indirectly, as characters in Old School:
Though born in San Francisco, Robert Frost (1874–1963) is forever associated with New
England, the setting for most of his life and work. Quietly dazzling in their technical perfection,
his enormously popular poems, such as "Mending Wall" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy
Evening," subtly explore the depths of nature and humanity.
Russian-born Ayn Rand (1905–1982) was the controversial author of a number of philosophical
works and two bestselling novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). Her
writings expound her philosophy of Objectivism, which emphasizes rationality and self-interest.
It also rejects religion, altruism, and all forms of social collectivism.
Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was arguably the most influential American novelist and
short-story writer of the twentieth century. Renowned for their unique style, such masterpieces as
A Farewell to Arms (1929) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952) brilliantly evoke the physical
world and the experience of the senses and stress themes of courage, stoicism, and the need to be
true to oneself.
"Our school was proud of its hierarchy of character and deeds. It believed that this system was
superior to the one at work outside, and that it would wean us from habits of undue pride and
deference. It was a good dream and we tried to live it out, even while knowing that we were
actors in a play, and that outside the theater was a world we would have to reckon with when the
curtain closed and the doors were flung open."
—from Old School
The narrator of Old School is found to have won the interview with Ernest Hemingway by
submitting someone else's short story as his own work. This act of plagiarism is met with dismay
and anger by the school's administration and sets in motion a chain of events that has a
significant effect on the lives of more than one character. To understand the full importance of
this situation in the novel, one must have a clear awareness of what plagiarism is and why it is
such a serious matter.
Anyone can recognize the flagrant dishonesty involved in passing off as one's own work
something in fact written by someone else. Most of us realize that a piece of writing—whether
imaginative or intellectual—is a form of property, and that its owner/creator is entitled to
whatever credit and profits his or her efforts and talents might generate.
Yet it is all too easy, when copying snippets of someone else's ideas and even someone else's
very words, to succumb—as the narrator of Old School does—to the notion that we have
somehow made them our own, that mere appropriation is a form of authorship. Modern
technology has made this even easier. Instantaneous access to the infinite amount of material
available on the Internet creates the impression that ideas and words are all just there for the
taking, especially when all one needs to do is highlight, copy, and paste.
But theft is still theft and fraud is still fraud, no matter the scale. Anyone who uses another's
thoughts without proper attribution to the source has stolen that person's intellectual property.
Even when proper attribution has been given, using the actual wording of the source material
without identifying it as direct quotation is perpetrating a fraud.
Teachers are also upset when their students appropriate the work of others because such an act
makes a disturbing statement about the offender's values. If those who would never dream of
stealing another's belongings have no compunction about taking someone else's written work,
they are saying—whether they realize it or not—that they have less respect for ideas and how
they are expressed than for material possessions.
"Make no mistake, he said: a true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life."
—Tobias Wolff from Old School
Photos of the author and school:
Tobias Wolff (Photo by Jennifer Hale)
Tobias Wolff, age 17, guesses ages and weights while working in the carnival section of the
1962 Seattle World's Fair. (Courtesy of Tobias Wolff)
The Hill School grounds (Courtesy of The Hill School)
Reader's Guide - About the Author
Tobias Wolff (b. 1945)
Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff was born on June 19, 1945, in Birmingham, Alabama. His father,
Arthur, was an aeronautical engineer but also a pathological liar and supreme con artist, as
detailed in the 1979 memoir The Duke of Deception, by Tobias's older brother, Geoffrey. As a
result of one of these many deceptions, Tobias, who was raised and remains a Catholic, did not
discover until adulthood that his father was Jewish. His mother, Rosemary Loftus Wolff, a
waitress and secretary, was a woman of spirit, resilience, and great intelligence, who met the
many reverses in her life with humor and determination.
Wolff's parents separated when he was very young. He was raised by his mother in Florida,
Utah, and Washington state. Eager to escape rural Washington and life with his mother's second
husband (experiences vividly recounted in his memoir This Boy's Life), he won a scholarship to
the Hill School, a prestigious academy in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He loved the school but
struggled because of his poor academic background. Ultimately, he was expelled because of
failing grades in math.
In 1964, Wolff joined the U.S. Army. He spent a year learning Vietnamese, and then served in
Vietnam as a paratrooper. Out of these experiences came his second memoir, In Pharaoh's
Army: Memories of the Lost War (1994). After his discharge in 1968, he enrolled in Hertford
College of Oxford University, where he earned a degree in English in 1972. In 1975, he earned a
master's degree in English from Stanford University, where he was also awarded a Wallace
Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing.
Wolff taught at Syracuse University in New York from 1980 to 1997. The novelist Richard Ford
and the short-story writer Raymond Carver were among his friends and colleagues. Since 1997,
Wolff has taught English and creative writing at Stanford University, where he holds the Ward
W. and Priscilla B. Woods professorship in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Among his
honors are the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and three O.
Henry Awards.
Tobias Wolff married Catherine Spohn, a social worker, in 1975. They have two sons and a
daughter. Wolff lives with his family in northern California.
"There is a need in us for exactly what literature can give, which is a sense of who we are,
beyond what data can tell us, beyond what simple information can tell us; a sense of the
workings of what we used to call the soul."
—Tobias Wolff from Stanford Today interview
An Interview with Tobias Wolff
On January 5, 2008, Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts,
interviewed Tobias Wolff at his office at Stanford University. Excerpts from their conversation
Dana Gioia: Would you characterize Old School as an autobiographical novel in any sense?
Tobias Wolff: The events of the novel are themselves, to some extent, autobiographical, in that
as a boy of that age I was in such a school. The school that I went to was like this one, a very
literary place. Edmund Wilson had gone there, and I heard Robert Frost there. There was a great
sense of excitement, always, around the visits of these writers, around the literary magazine,
about trying to get stories published or even to get on the editorial board. In some schools, of
course, it would be the football team, and football was no small thing at this school either. So my
somewhat vague ambition of being a writer really became solidified there. The actual events of
my time there would not have lent themselves to a memoir. I was certainly aware in bringing this
forward in this voice, in this situation, that a lot of readers familiar with either or both of my
memoirs would make assumptions about this being, in fact, a memoir disguised as a novel. And I
really didn't mind that.
DG: As a fiction writer you've been most associated with the short story. What for you,
imaginatively or creatively, are the differences between writing a short story and writing a
TW: When you write a short story you at least have some confidence you're going to be able to
finish it! From the time I first put words to page on this book and the time Old School actually
was published, it was five-and-a-half years. Aesthetically I can't say that I find the experience
that much different—the kind of pressure you put on yourself to get the right voice, to write the
sentence perfectly, to rewrite, to rewrite, to rewrite—all that is similar. Really, in each case it's
mainly going to the desk every day. I often am quite mystified about what I'm going do when I
sit down. And the work teaches me how to write it as I go. My first drafts would really make you
wonder, if you saw them, why I ever chose this line of work. Revision is crucial to my work.
DG: One of the strokes of genius in Old School is that at the very end, just when you think the
story's over, it continues with a twist in another voice. Did you have this coda in mind when you
began the book?
TW: No, but it was important, I think, because although the narrator talks about writing, we
never really see him writing anything, and we don't get any of his stories. He's always talking
about telling other people's stories and telling us what this friend wrote and what that friend
wrote, but where's his story? Finally he tells a story. He is, after all, a writer.
DG: Do you have any thoughts on the human purposes of fiction?
TW: Fiction gives us a place to stand outside ourselves and see our lives somehow being carried
on, to see the form that our lives take in some apprehensible way. Most of the time, experience
washes over us moment by moment, in a way that makes it difficult to discern the form in lives–
–the consequences that choices have that will only appear years later, in many cases. Fiction
shows us those things in a kind of apprehensible form and something we can comprehend, and
see, and actually feel. We kind of see our lives almost acted out in front of us in miniature. And
that's both exciting and also often very chastening, I think.
"The fact that a writer needed solitude didn't mean he was cut off or selfish. A writer was
like a monk in his cell praying for the world … "- from Old School
Reader's Guide - Historical Context
The Life and Times of Tobias Wolff
Robert Frost wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry and Ayn Rand publishes The Fountainhead, 1943.
Tobias Wolff is born on June 19, 1945, in Birmingham, Alabama.
World War II ends, August 1945.
Viet Minh (the Vietnamese liberation movement) declares independence from France in 1945;
French military forces resist the revolt in 1946, beginning an eight-year conflict.
Wolff, his mother, and his stepfather live in Washington State.
Ernest Hemingway wins the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1954.
The French are defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954; Vietnam is partitioned into North and South
John F. Kennedy elected U.S. President in 1960; assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Ernest Hemingway dies, 1961. Robert Frost dies, 1963.
The last U.S. combat troops withdraw from Vietnam, 1973.
Wolff earns a master's degree, marries, and publishes his first book, all in 1975.
Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese, 1975.
Wolff teaches at Syracuse University; he publishes a novella, two collections of stories, and his
memoir This Boy's Life.
Ground is broken for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, 1982.
Ayn Rand dies, 1982.
Wolff begins teaching at Stanford; publishes his Vietnam memoir and his third volume of short
The film version of This Boy's Life, starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ellen
Barkin, is released in 1993.
The U.S. restores diplomatic ties with Vietnam, 1995.
April 5, 2005, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Wolff publishes Old School (2003) and Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (2008).
Reader's Guide - Other Works/Adaptations
Wolff and His Other Works
Perhaps because of the prominence of Tobias Wolff's memoirs and short stories, when Old
School appeared in 2003, many assumed that it was his first extended work of fiction. In fact, it
was his third. Wolff's first novel, and first book, was a Vietnam story, published in 1975, called
Ugly Rumours. As the spelling would suggest, it appeared in England (and only in England).
While he has not made a concerted effort to erase all traces of its existence, Wolff does not
include it in listings of his published works. His second book-length work of fiction was the
novella The Barracks Thief (1984), which won the highly regarded PEN/Faulkner Award. It
deals with the intense and ultimately explosive relationships among servicemen in the shadow of
war, specifically three soldiers guarding an ammunition dump at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as
they wait to be sent to Vietnam.
The work for which Wolff is best known is his first memoir, This Boy's Life (1989). Glowing
reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, and
elsewhere praised the beauty and clarity of its style, along with its unforgettable description of
character and incident. While less well known, In Pharaoh's Army (1994), Wolff's account of his
experiences in Vietnam, is, like the earlier work, esteemed for its memorable scenes and for the
author's determination to describe his personality and actions with scrupulous honesty.
For many readers, the core of Wolff's achievement is his short stories, which have been collected
so far in four volumes—In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981), Back in the World
(1985), The Night in Question (1996), and Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (2008).
In story after story, Wolff presents his characters and their relationships—with spouses, children,
siblings, and strangers—with a scrutiny that is always unflinching and uncompromising, but
never uncompassionate. "The Rich Brother" presents a pair of adult brothers united in animosity,
but also by basic qualities that create a much stronger bond. "In the Garden of the North
American Martyrs," which examines a self-effacing woman whose hopes have been falsely
raised through the insensitivity of others, makes a surprising bid for justice.
Beautifully written without gaudiness or self-indulgence, deeply moving without a trace of
sentimentality, Tobias Wolff's work seems poised to hold a permanent place in American
"From this height it was possible to see into the dream that produced the school, not mere
English-envy but the yearning for a chivalric world apart from the din of scandal and cheap
dispute, the hustles and schemes of modernity itself. As I recognized this dream I also sensed its
futility, but so what? I loved my school no less for being gallantly unequal to our appetites—
more, if anything."
—from Old School
If you'd like to read other novels about the campus experience, you might enjoy:
Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (1944)
John Knowles's A Separate Peace (1959)
Richard Yates's A Good School (1978)
Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep (2005)
Also worth looking into are Robert Anderson's play Tea and Sympathy (1953) and John
McPhee's brief biography
The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden of Deerfield (1966).
If you'd like to read books admired by Tobias Wolff, you might enjoy:
Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886)
Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time (1925)
William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow (1979)
The Importance of Frost, Rand, and Hemingway
Much of the plot of Old School revolves around the scheduled visits of Robert Frost, Ayn Rand,
and Ernest Hemingway, and the fierce competition among the students to win personal
interviews with these authors. It may seem hard to believe nowadays, but there was a time not so
long ago when the general public was familiar with the faces and even the personal lives of
certain serious writers. Three of the most famous and recognizable writers of the time were the
three selected by Tobias Wolff for inclusion in his novel.
Robert Frost is, without any question, the best known and most popular American poet of
the twentieth century. Virtually everyone knows not only his name but even the titles of some of
his poems: “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Phrases
from some of these works, such as “Good fences make good neighbors” and “Miles to go before
I sleep,” have entered the language and are cited by people who have no idea that they’re quoting
Frost. For a poet to achieve such popularity is rare enough; what is truly astounding is that Frost
is also regarded by a great many critics and poets as the best and most important American poet
of his time. The traditional structures of his poems and their often charming descriptions of
nature appeal to a broad audience, but discerning readers also respond to his complex and often
tragic presentation of human beings struggling to cope with a harsh and often terrifying world.
Ayn Rand’s major novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and especially Atlas Shrugged
(1957), have achieved a surprising popularity when one considers their length and demanding
content. In each of these books, a strong protagonist unswervingly pursues his own vision
without regard for the views of others or the compromises demanded of him by any individual or
group. The hero of The Fountainhead, for instance, is an architect who chooses to blow up his
own building rather than accept any modifications in its design. Rand’s novels are especially
appealing to young people, who are often inspired by what they see as her idealism and call to
personal greatness. She is not held in high regard, however, by other writers and thinkers who
generally find her presentation of human nature unrealistic and her philosophical views rigid and
Ernest Hemingway was the dominant literary figure in America fifty years ago. Many
admired him not only for his sharply observed and exciting novels and short stories, but also for
his widely publicized life of deep-sea fishing, big-game hunting, and other manly pursuits. He is
no longer the imposing figure he was then; much of his later writing is seriously flawed, and the
macho lifestyle is now seen as the bravado of a desperately ill man. But his first two novels, The
Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929), and many of his finest short stories are
permanent contributions to the highest shelf of American literature. As Wolff acutely observes,
much of Hemingway’s importance lies in the brilliance of his craftsmanship—especially his
ability to evoke emotional states and the natural world—and his emphasis on courage and
stoicism in the face of all the forces in the world that rise up to destroy the human spirit.
Prep Schools: Fact and Fiction
Prep schools have been the setting for a number of very popular books and movies, including A
Separate Peace (1972) and Dead Poets Society (1989). From overexposure to such works, one
might form the impression that these schools are filled up with rich boys—some of them
oversensitive and the rest insufferably arrogant—who react to the pressures put on them by their
crass, domineering fathers by indulging in cutthroat competition, frequent fistfights, and an
alarming appetite for self-destruction. Even beyond such crude stereotyping phrases such as
“prep-school background” or “prep-school mentality” commonly suggest wealth, privilege,
social prominence and connections, and an inability to relate to—or even fully grasp
the reality of—anyone who does not share those qualities. Needless to say, the reality is
somewhat more complex.
Most of these books and movies are set in boarding schools, where the students live on
campus in dormitories, just as many college students do. In fact, however, the great majority of
prep schools in the United States are day schools, just like public high schools. Public schools
are operated and maintained by local governments, usually cities and towns. Most of the time,
they are funded by taxes on the homeowners that live within the school district. Public schools
are free, and all students who live within the district are eligible to attend them. Private
schools—and all prep schools are private— charge (sometimes very high) tuition and tend to be
extremely selective in their admission procedures. The word “prep” itself is, of course, short for
“preparatory.” For many students in public-school systems, high school is the final stage of their
formal education. A prep school is intended not as the end of the process but as a middle step.
What it seeks to prepare its students for is, in the short view, further study at a college or
university. In the long view, it tries to prepare its students for careers, often in public service, and
to prepare them for adult life itself. Thus, great stress is placed on academics, usually a
traditional course of studies including history, literature, philosophy, and languages. There
is also often an emphasis on athletics, and in some schools on religious practice, especially for
purposes of character-building.
Many prep-school students are from wealthy and/or socially prominent families, whose
members have attended the same school for generations, and who support their school with large
financial contributions. But most prep schools, motivated by a sense of mission and obligation to
society, have generous scholarship programs and make strong recruiting efforts. And these
schools feel that they have failed in their mission if their graduates go out into the world with
feelings of superiority and entitlement. What they strive for instead is to give their students a
sense of purpose and responsibility, to inspire them with the awareness that those who
are given the gifts of talent, wealth, and influence have an obligation to use those gifts in the
service of others. As the headmaster in the novel says, “Schools like ours are vulnerable to
criticism …There is some truth in these criticisms. Too much truth. But we are trying to do
something here. We are trying to become something.”
The Narrator’s Coming of Age
Among its other qualities, Old School fits into the tradition of the Bildungsroman, or coming-ofage novel, a work in which the protagonist goes through a process of maturing from adolescence
to adulthood. Two classic examples of the Bildungsroman are the Charles Dickens novels
David Copperfield (1850) and Great Expectations (1861). In our own time, one might even say
that the Harry Potter books, taken together, fit into the category.
At least since the time of Sophocles and Oedipus the King, down through Shakespeare’s
King Lear and many, many other works, much of the great literature of the Western world has
been founded on a core set of assumptions: that those who foolishly believe themselves superior
beings will sooner or later be forced to confront their own flaws and mistakes, and that from this
recognition of our own limitations may come humility and a greater compassion for the
weakness and imperfection of other people. Writers, critics, and teachers have always maintained
that reading great literature and learning this lesson will help to make us more compassionate
toward and tolerant of others. One of the many remarkable qualities of Old School is that it
shows us that very thing—a young man becoming more understanding and accepting of others
not only through personal encounters, but also through his encounters with works of literature.
From the very beginning, ignorance and misperception characterize the narrator in his
dealings with other people, whether in the unintentional pain that he causes the janitor,
Gershon, or his later misunderstanding (and subsequent discovery) of the reason for Bill White’s
sadness and withdrawal. The clear lesson of the Bill White episode is that we never really know
what’s going on with other people, and therefore we shouldn’t be quick to judge.
Perhaps the book’s most effective and moving example of how the narrator’s ignorance and
misunderstanding give way to deeper and more compassionate insight comes in connection with
his grandfather and his grandfather’s wife. When they visit him in the hospital, he is vaguely
ashamedand dismissive of them. When he looks at them in the light of his reading of The
Fountainhead, he is openly contemptuous of them. But when his personal exposure to Ayn Rand
shows him the narrowness and heartlessness of her views, he comes to recognize their decency
and their love for him. Through this experience, as well as through his reading of Hemingway,
he comes to embrace woundedness and imperfection as the reality of the
human condition.
This lesson—the precariousness of human nature, the hidden sorrows in everyone’s
life—is one that he keeps learning over and over. It is not until many years later, for example,
that he discovers that Mr. Ramsey’s editing of the Hemingway interview for the school paper
was motivated not by disrespect, but rather a desire to protect Hemingway from
himself. As the narrator tells us late in the novel, “The appetite for decisive endings, even the
belief that they’re possible, makes me uneasy in life as in writing” (p. 169). Clearly, at least part
of the reason for his uneasiness is his knowledge that we never achieve perfection, that our own
pride and arrogance must be constantly resisted, and that the lesson of love and forgiveness must
be learned again and again for as long as we live.
Directions: On the next few pages are ten FOCUSES to examine on issues in regards to the
novel. Some of these focuses will be worked on in a group, some will be individual, and
some will be as a class. Do not do the work with these focuses until you are sure what your
teacher would like you to do.
FOCUS ONE: Biography
Examining an author’s life can inform and expand the reader’s understanding of a novel.
Biographical criticism is the practice of analyzing a literary work through the lens of an author’s
experience. In this lesson, explore the author’s life to understand the novel more fully.
Before winning a scholarship to a prestigious Eastern prep school, Tobias Wolff grew up in an
isolated, working-class community in the Pacific Northwest. Thus, like the narrator of Old
School, he felt himself to be something of an outsider among many classmates from backgrounds
of great wealth and privilege. Like the narrator, he was forced to leave before graduation (in
Wolff’s case for academic reasons, not an issue of plagiarism). Also like the narrator, Wolff later
enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam, and ultimately he went on to become a wellknown and successful writer.
Discussion Activities
-Listen to The Big Read Audio Guide. Take notes as you listen. You will then present the three
most important points learned from the Audio Guide.
-Look over the following essays from the Reader’s Guide: “Introduction to the
Novel.” “Tobias Wolff (b. 1945),” and “Wolff and His Other Works.” Divide the class into
groups. Each group will present a summary of the main points in its assigned essay.
Writing Exercise
Read the first three paragraphs of the novel (pp. 3–4). Students write a similar description of
their own school, touching on some of the same points that Wolff emphasizes: the economic and
social backgrounds of the students, the school’s expectations of them, and the relative emphasis
placed on areas such as academics, sports, and creativity.
FOCUS 2: Culture and History
Cultural and historical contexts give birth to the dilemmas and themes at the center of the
novel. Studying these contexts and appreciating intricate details of the time and place help
readers understand the motivations of the characters. The greater part of the novel takes place
between the autumn of 1960 and the spring of the following year. John F. Kennedy has just been
elected president of the United States, and for many young people it is a time of great hope and
promise. Of course, we read the novel—as Wolff wrote it—with the awareness that this climate
will soon be shattered by Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, and violent social upheaval
in the United States.
In 1954 Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most popular authors, received the Nobel
Prize for Literature “for his mastery of the art of narrative … and for the influence that he has
exerted on contemporary style.” Robert Frost was the most celebrated living poet in the United
States. During his lifetime, he received four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. With each new book his
fame and honors increased. Russian-born writer and philosopher Ayn Rand formulated
objectivism, a philosophy in which she considered “the concept of man as a heroic being, with
his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest
activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Rand presented this philosophy in her widely
acclaimed novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
Discussion Activities
-How would you characterize the social, cultural, and political atmosphere of contemporary
America? How do the writers portrayed at the beginning of the novel relate to our main
character? What does the boys’ excitement over their upcoming visits tell us about the
motivations of these young men?
-Read Handout Two: Prep Schools: Fact and Fiction. Read “On Fire” and “Frost”
(pp. 29–60). The exchange between Robert Frost and Mr. Ramsey (pp. 50–53)
engages some of the main themes that the novel has raised thus far. Consider the ways the
narrator relates the events. Is he a reliable narrator?
Writing Exercise
The whole episode involving Gershon highlights certain inner conflicts in the narrator’s
character. Write a brief explication on this theme. Have you ever found yourself torn by
conflicting loyalties or aspirations? How, if at all, do you resolve these issues?
FOCUS 3: Narrative and Point of View
The narrator tells the story with a specific perspective informed by his or her beliefs and
experiences. Narrators can be major or minor characters, or exist outside the story altogether.
The narrator weaves her or his point of view, including ignorance and bias, into telling the tale.
A first-person narrator participates in the events of the novel, using “I.” A distanced narrator,
often not a character, is removed from the action of the story and uses the third person (he, she,
and they). The distanced narrator may be omniscient, able to read the minds of all the characters,
or limited, describing only certain characters’ thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, the
type of narrator determines the point of view from which the story is told. With the possible
exception of the last chapter (a point that will be addressed later), Old School is told entirely in
the first person by its unnamed central character. We are limited to his knowledge of facts,
his awareness of events, and his insights into himself and others. This awareness and these
insights undergo some significant changes with maturity, consistent with the novel’s emphasis
on human imperfection and learning through painful experience.
Discussion Activities
Based on the chapters read thus far, what sort of person does the narrator seem to be? Is he
likable? Is he admirable? Do his assumptions about himself and about other people seem to ring
Writing Exercise
Choose one of the other characters—besides the narrator--and, based on their interactions in the
novel thus far, write a description of the narrator in the voice of and from the point of view of
that character.
FOCUS FOUR: Characters
The central character in a work of literature is called the protagonist. The protagonist usually
initiates the main action of the story and often overcomes a flaw, such as weakness or ignorance,
to achieve a new understanding by the work’s end. A protagonist who acts with great honor or
courage may be called a hero. An antihero is a protagonist lacking these qualities. Instead of
being dignified, brave, idealistic, or purposeful, the antihero may be cowardly, self-interested, or
weak. The protagonist’s journey is enriched by encounters with characters who hold
differing beliefs. One such character type, a foil, has traits that contrast with the protagonist’s
and highlight important features of the main character’s personality. The most important foil, the
antagonist, opposes the protagonist, barring or complicating his or her success. The narrator of
Old School is himself clearly a work in progress over the course of the novel. The scorn and
contempt he feels for almost everyone else after reading The Fountainhead (1943) is a clear
indication of his immaturity, and his reaction to Ayn Rand herself and his consequent disavowal
of her views lead him to a new depth of sensitivity and insight.
Discussion Activities
Discuss the way the narrator describes Ayn Rand. How does he feel about her before he meets
her? Does his viewpoint change after meeting her? Is he fair? What instances of “weakness or
ignorance” has the narrator displayed up to this point? What capacity has he shown to learn from
his experiences and grow in understanding and depth of character?
Writing Exercise
Choose George Kellogg, Bill White, or Jeff Purcell and write a short essay on how this character
serves as a foil to the protagonist.
FOCUS FIVE: Figurative Language
Writers use figurative language such as imagery, similes, and metaphors to help the reader
visualize and experience events and emotions in a story. Imagery—a word or phrase that refers
to sensory experience (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste)—helps create a physical experience
for the reader and adds immediacy to literary language. Some figurative language asks us to
stretch our imaginations, finding the likeness in seemingly unrelated things. Simile is a
comparison of two things that initially seem quite different but are shown to have a significant
resemblance. Similes employ connective words, usually “like,” “as,” “than,” or a verb such as
“resembles.” A metaphor is a statement that one thing is something else that, in a literal sense, it
is not. By asserting that a thing is something else, a metaphor creates a close association that
underscores an important similarity between these two things.
Wolff draws from ancient and medieval references to (ironically) imbue the young,
unformed lives of the main characters with profundity. For example: the English masters as a
“chivalric order” (p. 5), Jeff Purcell as “the Herod of our editorial sessions” (p. 13), the masters
treating the students’ spring exuberance “like the grousing of impotent peasants outside the
castle walls” (p. 104), the Farewell Assemblies “Neronic in their carnality” (p. 112), and
the title of the school literary magazine, the Troubadour.
Discussion Activities
Find at least three instances of figurative language. Present to the class why they are figurative
and how the words and phrases help shed light on the story. Discuss as a class the ways
figurative language serves to illuminate larger thematic issues.
Writing Exercise
Read aloud the passage about the editorial meeting (pp. 119–121). Write a brief essay discussing
how the key points are conveyed through figurative language.
FOCUS SIX: Symbols
Symbols are persons, places, or things in a narrative that have significance beyond a
literal understanding. The craft of storytelling depends on symbols to present ideas and point
toward new meanings. Most frequently, a specific object will be used to refer to (or symbolize) a
more abstract concept. The repeated appearance of an object suggests a non-literal, or figurative,
meaning attached to the object. Symbols are often found in the book’s title, at the beginning and
end of the story, within a profound action, or in the name or personality of a character. The life
of a novel is perpetuated by generations of readers interpreting and reinterpreting the
main symbols. By identifying and understanding symbols, readers can reveal new interpretations
of the novel.
One of the more remarkable aspects of Old School is the degree to which literature itself,
especially fiction, is woven into the lives of the characters and the larger themes of the book. Mr.
Ramsey is eloquent on this point in the passage on pages 131–132. Works of fiction can take on
symbolic value. This is obviously the case with Jeff Purcell’s first-edition copy of In Our Time.
More subtly, the kinds of stories that one writes become symbols that reflect the kind of person
their author is.
Discussion Activities
To illustrate the above point, reread the narrator’s comments on Hemingway and his stories (pp.
96–97) and his contrasting comments on himself and his own stories (pp. 108–110). With these
passages as context, lead the class into a discussion of the narrator’s discovery—and
plagiarism— of “Summer Dance” and the complexities of his relationship to that story.
Writing Exercise
Write on the following theme: What is your favorite work of literature, movie, or piece of music?
Why does it appeal to you? Discuss any symbols that occur in that particular work of art. If no
symbols are present, explain why symbols are not needed.
FOCUS SEVEN: Character Development
Novels trace the development of characters who encounter a series of challenges. Most
characters contain a complex balance of virtues and vices. Internal and external forces require
characters to question themselves, overcome fears, or reconsider dreams. The protagonist may
undergo profound change. A close study of character development maps, in each character, the
evolution of motivation, personality, and belief. The tension between a character’s strengths and
weaknesses keeps the reader guessing about what might happen next and the protagonist’s
eventual success or failure.
As an adult, the narrator has exchanged his youthful brashness and assertiveness for a
more measured and reflective view of life, but in large part his transition into adulthood is one of
continuity rather than change. The most significant phases of his development took place during
his last year of prep school. His encounter with Susan Friedman shows that as a young man he is
still awkward and tentative with women. His characterization of her dismissal of writing as an
“impiety” (p. 163) shows him to be as committed as ever to his literary ideals. Of the entire
group of young men who were mad about literature, he is the only one who has gone on to be a
writer. But even much later in life, he remains insecure about his worth as a writer (p. 171), even
as he demonstrates a prickly pride.
Discussion Activities
-“Finally, one does want to be known,” Mr. Ramsey says about Dean Makepeace (p. 172). How
does this comment apply to the narrator, especially in relation to his guardedness about his
Jewish heritage and his theft of “Summer Dance”?
-Read Handout Three: The Narrator’s Coming of Age. Read the novel’s conclusion, “Master”
(pp. 179–195). In what ways does Makepeace’s story parallel that of the narrator? In what ways
do the stories differ?
Writing Exercise
When the narrator steals the story, do you think he has an unconscious desire to be expelled from
school and/or exposed as a fraud? Write a short essay on whether or not his expulsion can be
considered a good thing.
FOCUS EIGHT: The Plot Unfolds
The author crafts a plot structure to create expectations, increase suspense, and develop
characters. The pacing of events can make a novel either predictable or riveting. Foreshadowing
and flashbacks allow the author to defy the constraints of time. Sometimes an author can
confound a simple plot by telling stories within stories. In a conventional work of fiction, the
peak of the story’s conflict—the climax—is followed by the resolution, or denouement, in which
the effects of that climactic action are presented. The last chapter of Old School is, in its own
way, a genuine surprise ending, with its sudden shift of focus and point of view. To begin with,
we might ask who is telling Arch Makepeace’s story. The answer that suggests itself is that the
narrator of the novel is simply passing along what Mr. Ramsey had told him in Seattle. But
reread the paragraph beginning at the bottom of page 173: “He kept it short, but … I was
somehow given to know more than was actually said. The spaces he left empty began filling up
even as he spoke.” In a sense, then, we may regard the last chapter as the narrator’s imaginative
reconstruction of the dean’s life and character—a full-fledged example of literary art.
Like the narrator, Arch Makepeace has carried a burden of concealment, chafing at the
idea that others’ good opinion of him is founded, at least in part, on misunderstanding. (Recall
his reaction on reading “Summer Dance”: “He … was most affected, and in fact discomfited, by
its unblinking inventory of self-seeking and duplicity. It was hard to tell the truth like that” [p.
186].) In the end, his punishment, his “sentence,” is much briefer and less severe than that of the
Discussion Activities
-Wolff writes: “The boy closest to them smiles into his punch glass. He can hear them; he has
slipped into their camp and can hear the secret music of these sure and finished men, our
masters” (p. 175). Are the masters “sure and finished men”? How does this relate to the last
section of the novel, “Master”? Finally, how might this draw out a larger theme of the novel?
-What one theme is the most important issue in the novel? Explain.
Writing Exercise
Write a short essay on a turning point in the novel. Where does the plot begin to change?
Choose a turning point and explain why the novel revolves around this point.
FOCUS NINE: Themes of the Novel
Themes are the central, recurring subjects of a novel. As characters grapple with circumstances
such as racism, class, or unrequited love, profound questions will arise in the reader’s mind about
human life, social pressures, and societal expectations. Classic themes include intellectual
freedom versus censorship, the relationship between one’s personal moral code and larger
political justice, and spiritual faith versus rational considerations. A novel often reconsiders these
age-old debates by presenting them in new contexts or from new points of view.
Discussion Activities and Writing Exercise
Use the following questions to stimulate discussion or provide writing exercises in order to
interpret the novel in specific ways. Using historical references to support ideas, explore the
statements Old School makes about the following themes:
The Importance of Literature
From the discussion of William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” in the opening chapter
through the previously cited exploration of Hemingway’s short fiction and Mr.
Ramsey’s observations on the need for stories, the novel makes a sustained,
passionate defense of the significance of fiction to our lives. What claims are
made for fiction beyond mere distraction or amusement?
Honesty and Deception
Poised right on the brink, I still held back, perhaps sensing that the moment it
started, once I allowed myself the comfort of his interest, I wouldn’t be able
to stop; that the relief of confessing this paralysis might betray me into other
confessions. In some murky way I recognized my own impatience to tear off the
mask, and it spooked me. (p. 118)
Why does the narrator hide the truth about himself? Why does he want to
confess? Which of these impulses does the novel affirm?
Tolerance and Acceptance
For years Arch had traced this vision of the evil done through intolerance of the
flawed and ambiguous, but he had not taken the lesson to heart. He had given up
the good in his life because a fault ran through it. He was no better than Aylmer,
murdering his beautiful wife to rid her of a birthmark. (p. 193)
What is the lesson here, and why does it need to be taken to heart?
Reader's Guide - Discussion Questions
1. The dedication of Old School reveals something of how Wolff might feel about his own
education. If you wrote a book, would you dedicate it the same way?
2. What does the epigraph of Old School, a passage from a Mark Strand poem, mean? How
does it relate to the novel's thematic concerns?
3. Why do you think Wolff left the narrator and even the school unnamed?
4. In Chapter One, the narrator maintains that his school disregarded issues of wealth and
social background and judged its students entirely by their actions. Does this turn out to
be true? How does his school compare to your own?
5. Early in the novel, the narrator says that his aspirations as a writer "were mystical. I
wanted to receive the laying on of hands that had written living stories and poems, hands
that had touched the hands of other writers. I wanted to be anointed." What does he mean
by this?
6. Which of his classmates does the narrator feel closest to, and why?
7. How do the narrator's changing attitudes toward his grandfather demonstrate his process
of maturing?
8. Discuss the portrayals of Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest Hemingway. How does
each influence the narrator?
9. Why might Chapter Six be titled "The Forked Tongue"? What are the larger implications
of its very last sentence?
10. Why does Mr. Ramsey show such disdain for the use of the word "honor"? Do you agree
with his attitude?
11. Over the course of the novel, the narrator writes two letters to girls. The circumstances
differ, but he has the same reaction after sending each letter. What does this pattern of
behavior reveal about his personality?
12. Why is the narrator shocked by Susan Friedman's attitude toward her own story, and
toward writing in general? How valid is his unspoken response to her comments?
13. Why does the narrator feel such love and loyalty for his school, despite his final
14. The last sentence of the book is from the New Testament parable of the prodigal son
(Luke 15:11-32). How might these be "surely the most beautiful words ever written
or said"?
Source of this Reader’s Guide from Old School can be found at:
Group Review Activity:
Each group will be assigned two to three chapters to cover. You should then do
the following:
-Summarize ALL of your chapters in at least fifteen sentences
-Have three quotes from each chapter that you feel are significant. Explain
their significance in at least one sentence.
-List at least five occurrences in your chapters that shocked/amazed/
humored you in terms of its prophetic nature or in regards to its subject.
-Answer the FOCUS that pertain to the chapters you have been
-Write an at least ten sentence review of the book.
We will work on this in-class on____________.
You will then turn in YOUR ASSIGNMENT FROM YOUR GROUP to by __________ at 11:59 pm.
You will present it to the class on ________________.
After you give your presentations, I will turn ALL of them into one document that
you will be able to download from my website. You will then be able to use this to
study for your test.
Comparison/Contrast Essay on Old School
Your essay should be 500-750 words. It must include at least three quotes from the novel with a
parenthetical citation crediting the source at the end of the sentence. You also need to include at least one
quote from a literary criticism. You may only use a literary criticism that is found through accessing
a Gale Database at Panther Central. It is not necessary to do additional research in the writing of this
paper, but if you do choose to include other literary criticisms you should credit these sources as well.
(Of course, since you will be using a minimum of two sources you must include a Works Cited page.)
Please keep in mind that SparkNotes, Cliffs Notes, the summary on Wikipedia, and the like are not
considered literary criticism.
More Hints for this Essay:
-Make sure you mention the book title and author at the beginning of the essay
-Start with an interesting first line
-Give brief background into the novel in the opening paragraph
-Your last sentence of your first paragraph will be your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be
specific and concise. It should NOT contain the words compare, contrast, different, similar (or anything
else like that).
-In your body paragraphs, make sure every body paragraph contains a quote.
-Make sure you use copious details to explain what you are comparing and contrasting
-Make sure you follow the guidelines in your Readings for Writers book for writing a
comparison/contrast essay
-In your conclusion be sure to sum up your paper without restating the thesis.
-End your paper with an exciting clincher statement
The following are your due dates for this paper:
You need to show me your literary criticism in class on _________. It is worth 10 points.
Your rough draft is due to by _________ at 11:59 pm. It is worth 10 points.
Your peer editing will be done in class on ______; it is due to by _______ at
11:59 pm. It is worth 10 points.
Your final draft will be due ________ by 11:59 pm to It is worth 75 points.
You will need to highlight in yellow that you changed at least 15% of what you wrote in the final
Wadworth: Writing Paragraphs
Exercise B
Determine one possible pattern of development for a paragraph on
each of these topics. Then, write a paragraph (of at least five
sentences) below on one of the topics.
1. What success is (or is not)
2. The two kinds of people who appear on television reality shows
3. My worst experience
4. The connection between coffee consumption and heart disease
5. The dangers of using a cell phone while driving
Wadsworth: Thesis Statements and Formal Outlines
Attached you will find an editorial entitled Why the Insanity of College Admissions Will Change
by Patrick Mattimore. Please read this editorial and write a formal outline of it. You need to
have a minimum of a thesis statement, three Roman numeral subheadings, and an a and b to go
with each subheading:
My college alma mater, Dartmouth College, announced recently that the College had received a record number of
applications for spots in the freshmen class. The admissions’ department has also projected that Dartmouth would
accept the lowest percentage of students in the College’s history, about 11-12% of applicants.
Sometime this coming fall, I expect to receive a letter from Dartmouth informing me that this year’s class of
freshmen is the best-prepared, most diverse, smartest, highest potential group of students to ever enroll at
Dartmouth, thereby knocking my class, which was also all the “bests”, from 40th to 41st place on that esteemed list.
Coincidentally, I will also receive a solicitation to donate to the alumni fund, presumably to help push my class into
42nd place.
Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford already accept less than 10% of applicants annually, and Yale recently
publicized the fact that the College had accepted a record low number of early admissions’ applicants which will
help keep their overall acceptance rate below 10%. I’m pretty sure Dartmouth’s goal is to break into that 90%
rejection club too. The irony is that these same admissions’ departments regularly broadcast the fact that nearly all
their applicants are capable of doing the work that would be expected of them at the respective colleges. Stories are
legion of students with perfect SAT scores and 4.0 high school grade point averages being turned down at these elite
schools. Everyone seems to agree that competitive admissions have become too competitive but, like a high stakes
game of chicken, no one seems willing to step back from the edge.
Two years ago, during my last full year teaching high school, my seniors exacted some revenge by compiling some
of the most obsequious, self-serving rejection letters that colleges sent out and combining extracts from those letters.
Several large daily newspapers published our story along with several students’ editorial suggestions. Various
people have suggested solutions to tamp back the competitive college admissions game, perhaps the most radical of
which is the idea proposed by Barry Schwartz at Swarthmore. Schwartz has recommended that competitive colleges
establish minimum acceptance standards and then take all the student applicants that meet the criteria and put them
into a lottery.
The real answer, though, will come not from making the system one of chance, or dictating solutions, but from the
market itself. Much as the housing bubble burst after years of increasing demand and prices, demand for the name
colleges will begin to recede in the next few years for several reasons.
First, the population of college-age students is expected to decline. That fact alone will produce a lesser demand for
spots in colleges.
Second, the financial crisis will cause a greater demand among students for financial aid. While many of the better
endowed colleges can now promise to provide 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students, those generous
pledges may not last. In any event, the colleges may tighten definitions of demonstrated need.
Third, markets reveal frauds. Or rather, commodities that are overpriced, deflate. At some point, the perception that
only a narrow band of elite schools are acceptable and that those elite schools are better than many other colleges
will fade. The public will likely realize that the letter on someone’s college sweatshirt has a lot less to do with the
quality of that person’s education than what the person wearing the sweatshirt makes of her opportunities, no matter
where she goes. Unfortunately, that realization will come a little late for the Class of 2013.
Wadsworth: Commas
Part I: Add commas to the following sentences so they make sense.
1. Kahlo was a young, energetic girl of sixteen when her life was interrupted by a devastating
bus accident so she was forces to convalesce in bed for a long time.
2. Her love of painting could not be stopped and she found ways to paint while she was
3. Kahlo painted smaller self-portraits with bright glossy colors and lush vivid flowers.
4. While many of her images are warmly tropical details such as a bleeding heart her wounded
and broken body and twisted limbs are also featured.
5. In 1892 Diego Rivera and his family moved to Mexico City.
6. At the San Carlos Academy he studied art.
7. In 1987 an exhibit of Frida Kahlo’s art was brought to the Plaza de la Raza a site in East Los
8. The exhibit among the most extensive in the United States at that time drew the attention of
Tina Guotta a young artist.
9. Born in Guanajuanto Mexico in 1886 Diego Rivera spent a lifetime committed to the
struggles of workers both in Mexico and internationally.
10. Although he and his wife Frida Kahlo noted Mexican artist were controversial for their
Communist sympathies they both acquired an international reputation for their great art.
Evaluating Sources- Do Exercise 2 on p. 209-210 of your Wadsworth on your own.
Be sure to write down at least two significant characteristics about each website below.
Wadsworth: Using Other Punctuation Marks
Directions: Add appropriate punctuation—colons, dashes, parentheses, brackets, or slashes—to
the following sentences. If a sentence is correct, mark it with a C.
1. Mark Twain Samuel Clemens made the following statement “I can live for two months on a
good compliment.”
2. Liza Minnelli, the actress singer who starred in several films, is the daughter of legendary
singer Judy Garland.
3. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all these are located on the
Arabian Peninsula.
4. John Adams 1735-1826 was the second president of the United States; John Quincy Adams
1767-1848 was the sixth.
5. The sign said, “No trespassing sic.”
6. Checkmate a term derived from the Persian phrase meaning “the king is dead” announces
victory in chess.
7. The following people were present at the meeting the president of the board of trustees, three
trustees, and twenty reporters.
8. Before the introduction of the potato in Europe, the parsnip was a major source of
carbohydrates in fact, it was a dietary staple.
9. In the well-researched book Crime Movies (New York Norton, 1980), Carlos Clarens studies
the gangster genre in film.
10. I remember reading thought I can’t remember where that Upton Sinclair sold plots to Jack
Wadsworth: Chapter 9 “Using Logic,” Chapter 10 “Writing Argumentative Essays,” and
Chapter 41: “Revising Run-Ons”
1. Do Exercise #1 on p. 110-111 and write the answer below:
2. Choose one of the enthymemes for Exercise #2 on p. 112-113, supply the missing premise,
and determine if the resulting syllogism is sound.
3. Do #7 in Exercise #4 on p. 124.
4. Do Exercise #2 on p. 126-127
5. Combine each of the following sentence pairs into one sentence without creating comma
splices or fused sentences. In each case, either connect the clauses into a compound sentence or
subordinate one clause to the other to create a complex sentence. You may need to add, delete,
reorder, or change words or punctuation.
a. The sound of waves is comforting. The sand gets into everything.
b. Several reasons have been given for this decline in historical literacy. The main reason is the
way history is taught.
c. One way to avoid this problem is to use good textbooks. Textbooks should be accurate, lively,
and focused.
Wadsworth: Writing a Research Paper, including Writing a Rough Draft, Revising Your
Drafts, and Preparing a Final Draft
1. True False:
You can put your thesis statement anywhere in a research paper; it
does not need to be in the introduction.
2. True False:
You lead readers through the body of your paper with strong
topic sentences that correspond to the divisions of your outline.
3. True False:
If two sources present conflicting interpretations, you should be
especially careful to use precise language and accurate transitions
to make the contrast apparent.
4. True False:
Photographs and other visuals should not be used in an argument
research paper.
5. True False:
Your teacher’s revision suggestions can help you revise your
research paper.
6. True False:
Feedback you get from peer review is usually not helpful and
should not be used to revise.
7. True False:
It may be necessary to add more research in order to find support
for certain points in your research paper.
8. True False:
You should always remove sources you did not use in the paper in
your final Works Cited.
9. True False:
You do not need to proofread your paper; you should always trust
in your judgment that you have done your best work at 4 am the
day before the paper is due.
10. True False
It is an asset to have a general title instead of a title that is specific
and interesting.
Wadsworth: Evaluating Internet Sources; Writing a Research Paper
Directions: This assignment will be due at the end of class on __________. You will also need
to bring your Wadsworth book since it is necessary to complete your assignment.
Your research paper this semester will be on a social issue that is relevant to Florida. (We will
begin it officially in November.) The requirements are:
 1200-1500 words
 MLA style
 Six (or more) internet sources dated from 2012-present
 One source that is a book that has been checked out from the SFSC library (does not need
to be from 2012-present); you will need to turn in a photocopy of the pages you used,
plus the title page, copyright information page, and proof you checked out the book from
To aid you in writing your research paper, you definitely need to know how to evaluate sources.
Please answer the following questions to aid in learning how to evaluate sources:
1. Make a list of at least three topics you think you could write your research paper on:
2. Now that you’ve thought about it a bit, choose one of the topics and do a search with several
of the popular search engines listed in section 13b (p. 192-193) of your Wadsworth. Compare
the results, especially of the first items listed on each search.
 Was there much duplication?
 Did some sources appear only on one search?
 How many “hits” did each search engine provide for a particular topic?
3. Try using one of the metasearch engines listed in 13b (p. 193). What were the results?
4. Try using one or two of the specialized search engines also listed in 13b (p. 195-196). What
were the results?
5. Was a particular search engine faster or slower than the others?
6. Try narrowing your search. Put quotation marks around a phrase and search again. Use
combining keywords—and, or, or not—to conduct a Boolean search. Try plus or minus signs
with word combinations. How were the results different from your earlier searches?
Now that you’ve had some time to search, pretend you must pick out your research paper topic
right now. (Relax—you can change it later, or you might find out that you get much work done
for your research paper right now by choosing the topic that works for you!)
Topic of argument research paper:
Thesis of research paper (w/ side that agrees with your opinion):
Thesis of research paper (w/ side that disagrees with your opinion):
Why would I make you write a thesis on both sides of the issue?
Now, find two authoritative sources on your topic. (One with a fact or opinion that agrees with
your opinion; one with a fact or opinion that disagrees with your opinion.) Below you should
write the title and author, website name, and brief explanation of how you would use this
source in your paper.
Source #1-
Source #2-
DE English
A Modest Proposal Satirical Essay- worth 50 points
You will have the class period to write your own modest proposal. You should do the following
in your essay:
Write a satire in which you attempt to solve one of today’s problems.
Include an introduction that explains the problem
State your proposal after your introduction
Give a number of reasons why your proposal would work (Swift used 6, so you should
use at least 3)
Be able to explain what you would really like to happen by underlining it (Swift used
italics to show)
Explain in your conclusion that this would not benefit you personally and why
Be sure to also use pathos, ethos, and logos to prove your point
You should put your final draft on by ____________
A Modest Proposal Satire
4321CATEGORY Above Standards Meets Standards Approaching Standards Below Standards
The introductory
paragraph has a
strong hook or
attention grabber
that is appropriate
for the audience.
This could be a
strong statement, a
relevant quotation,
statistic, or
question addressed
to the reader.
The position
Statement of statement provides
a clear, strong
statement of the
author's position
on the topic.
The introductory
paragraph has a
hook or attention
grabber, but it is
weak, rambling or
inappropriate for
the audience.
The author has an
interesting introductory
paragraph but the
connection to the topic is
not clear.
The introductory
paragraph is not
interesting AND
is not relevant to
the topic.
The position
provides a clear
statement of the
author's position
on the topic.
A position statement is
There is no
present, but does not
make the author's position statement.
Reaons for
Includes 3 or more
pieces of evidence
(facts, statistics,
examples, real-life
experiences) that
support the
position statement.
The writer
anticipates the
reader's concerns,
biases or
arguments and has
provided at least 1
Includes 3 or
more pieces of
evidence (facts,
examples, real-life
experiences) that
support the
Includes 2 pieces of
evidence (facts, statistics,
examples, real-life
experiences) that support
the position statement.
Includes 1 or
fewer pieces of
evidence (facts,
examples, real-life
Demonstrates a
understanding of
the potential
reader and uses
vocabulary and
reader's questions
and provides
thorough answers
appropriate for
that audience.
Demonstrates a
understanding of
the potential
reader and uses
vocabulary and
appropriate for
that audience.
Demonstrates some
It is not clear who
understanding of the
the author is
potential reader and uses writing for.
arguments appropriate for
that audience.
of What is
Student underlines
and gives several
reasons for what
should really
occur instead of
satirical proposal.
underlines and
gives a few
reasons for what
should really
occur instead of
satirical proposal.
Student underlines and
gives only one or two
reasons for what should
really occur instead of
satirical proposal
Student does not
underline or gives
no reasons for
what should really
occur instead of
satirical proposal
Student does an
excellent job of
using logos,
pathos, ethos, and
Student does a
good job of using
logos, pathos,
ethos, and
Student does a good job
of using logos, pathos,
ethos, and satirical
Student does not
use adequately or
does not correctly
use logos, pathos,
ethos, and/or
Grammar & Author makes no
errors in grammar
or spelling that
distract the reader
from the content.
Author makes 1-2
errors in grammar
or spelling that
distract the reader
from the content.
Author makes 3-4 errors
in grammar or spelling
that distract the reader
from the content.
Author makes
more than 4 errors
in grammar or
spelling that
distract the reader
from the content.
The conclusion is
strong and leaves
the reader solidly
understanding the
writer's position.
restatement of the
position statement
begins the closing
The conclusion is
recognizable. The
author's position
is restated within
the first two
sentences of the
closing paragraph.
The author's position is
There is no
restated within the
conclusion - the
closing paragraph, but not paper just ends.
near the beginning.
Use of
Name ____________________
Period ______
Chapter 41: Writing About Literature
1. Which of the “Read Actively” tips do you need to do in order to become a better writer?
Explain. Which ones do you already do? Explain.
2. Which of the “Plan Your Essay” tips do you currently struggle with? Why do you think this
is so?
3. Which of the “Prewriting: Discover Your Ideas” tips do you use? Explain why this method
works for you.
4. Which of the “Develop a Literary Argument” tips do you use? Which do you not? Explain
your answer for each.
5. Which of the “Write a Rough Draft” tips is most useful to you? Why?
6. What two or three tips under “Revise Your Draft,” “Some Final Advice on Rewriting,”
“Document Sources to Avoid Plagiarism,” “The Form of the Finished Paper” and “Spell-check
and Grammar-check Programs” is helpful to you? Why?
Instructions for Short Essay #3: Short Story Analysis of one of the stories in Literature
Choose from one of the following topics:
A. Write an analysis of a short story, focusing on a single element, such as point
of view, theme, symbolism, character, or the author’s voice (tone, style, irony).
B. Write a thorough explication of a short passage (preferably not more than four
sentences) in a story you liked. Pick a crucial moment in the plot, or a passage,
that reveals the story’s theme.
C. Write an analysis of a story in which the protagonist experiences an epiphany
or revelation of some sort. Describe the nature of this change of heart. What are
the repercussions in the character’s life?
D. Drawing on your own experience, make the case that a character in any short
story behaves (or does not behave) as people do in real life. (Due to the nature of
this essay, it is appropriate to use 1st person point of view.)
E. Imagine a reluctant reader, one who would rather play video games than crack
a book. Which story in this book would you recommend to him or her? Write an
essay to that imagined reader, describing the story’s merits.
Write 500-750 words on the topic.
Include at least two quotes from the story and one quote from a literary analysis on your
short story (found on Gale using Panther Central) in your essay.
Include a Works Cited page
Your rough draft is due ___________ to by 11:59 pm.
Your peer editing is due __________ to by 11:59 pm; we will have in
class time on __________ to work on this.
Your final draft is due ____________ to by 11:59 pm; we will have in
class time on __________ to work on this.
Our Poetry Unit (aka The Best Six Weeks of Our Lives!)
Chapter 13: Reading a Poem
Those Winter Sundays (p. 677)
Write a poem about a childhood memory involving a relative
Ask Me (p. 685)
Chapter 14: Listening to a Voice
Doo Wop (p. 825)
Write a serious or comic poem which contains no more than two words
per line
White Lies (p. 693)
Dulce et Decorum Est (p. 709)
Chapter 15: Words
Silence (p. 718)
Write a poem that is told largely in quotations.
Grass (p. 723)
Dog Haiku (p. 696)
Write a haiku (a three line poem with five, seven, and five syllable lines)
Jabberwocky (p. 734)
Write a poem filled with nonsense words
Poetry of the Romantic Period in Elements of Literature book
Poetry of William Blake
A Poison Tree (p. 743)
The Lamb (p. 733)
The Tyger (p. 731)
The Chimney Sweeper (p. 739)
Poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (p. 775)
Poetry of George Gordon, Lord Byron
She Walks in Beauty (p. 812)
Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Ozymandias (p. 820)
Poetry of Robert Burns
To a Mouse (p. 722)
Chapter 16: Saying and Suggesting
next to of course god america i (p. 744)
Write a poem with no capitalization and punctuation
Chapter 17: Imagery
The Fish (p. 754)
Chapter 18: Figures of Speech
Metaphors (p. 775)
Turtle (p. 786)
Chapter 19: Song
Richard Cory (p. 795)
Ballad of Birmingham (p. 800)
The Times They Are a-Changin (p. 804)
Song Presentations- worth 25 points
Just like this song represented the 1960s, you will present a song to the
class that symbolizes our modern times. The song must have been
written in the past two years. You may work by yourself or in a group of up
tofour people. You must show me the lyrics of your song to be approved before
you begin working on the assignment, and only one group per class may choose a
certain song. Once the song is chosen, you need to make your presentation, in
which you will:
1. Play the video (lyric version, preferably) to your song using
2. Ask the class five open ended questions about your song
3. Give the class a minimum of five sentence explanation of how this
song relates to modern times
You should turn in a link to the video, your five open ended questions, and
your five sentence explanation to by __________;
every member of your group needs to do this.
Chapter 20: Sound
Recital (p. 814)
The Hippopotamus (p. 820)
Chapter 21: Rhythm
We Real Cool (p. 833)
Chapter 22: Closed Form
Do not go gentle into that good night (p. 864)
Short Essay #4: Poem Analysis (750-1000 words)- worth 100 points
Rough draft is due _______; Peer editing is done in class on _______; Final draft is
due (including submission to by ________
You should read Chapter 43: Writing about a Poem (p. 1933-1941) in order to see how
to set up a poem analysis. You may choose any poem in Literature or in your Elements
of Literature book to write on (except for Robert Frost’s Design or Abbie Hustan Evans
You should rely on your own analysis, but if you do use outside sources you must credit
them (as a parenthetical citation in the paper; with a Works Cited entry at the end).
You should use quotes from the poem (at least five) to prove your thesis.
You should include a Works Cited page crediting the poem you referred to in your paper.
The Works Cited entry should be done as thus:
Last name of poet, First name. “Poem Title.” Title of Book. Ed. of Book.
___th ed. Place Published: Publisher, Year Published.
Choose from one of the following topics:
o Write an analysis of a poem from the chapters in Literature or the Romantic
Age, focusing on how a single key element (such as tone, rhyme and meter,
imagery, irony, theme, or extended metaphor) shapes its meaning.
o Write a comparison-contrast essay on any two or more poems by a single
poet. Look for two poems that share a characteristic thematic concern.
o Write an analysis of a certain theme (or other element) that you find in the
work of two or more poets. It is probably that in your conclusion you will
want to set the poets’ work side by side, comparing or contrasting them, and
perhaps making some evaluation.
o Perform a line-by-line explication of a poem of your choice. Imagine that
your audience is unfamiliar with the poem and needs your assistance in
interpreting it.
o Read three poems by a poet featured in this book. You will need to
communicate to your reader a sense of the work’s style and thematic
preoccupations. Finally, make a value judgment about the work’s quality.
Chapter 23: Open Form
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (p. 878)
Write a poem that is Thirteen Ways of Looking at a…
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Tortilla (p. 958)
Swan and Shadow p. 883
Concrete Cat p. 885
Write a concrete poem
First Love: A Quiz p. 918
Write a poem in the form of a quiz
Chapter 25: Myth and Narrative
Cinderella (p. 919)-Write a poem about a fairy tale character
Chapter 26: Poetry and Personal Identity
America (p. 892)
Learning to love America (p. 900)
Write your own poem about America
Note: If time allows, we will also cover the poems on this page in class.
Poetry of the Victorian Period in Elements of Literature textbook
Poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
To an Athlete Dying Young by A. E. Housman
Chapter 28: Poetry in Spanish: Literature of Latin America
Every Tree in Its Shadow (p. 929)
Chapter 29: Recognizing Excellence
One Art (p. 941)
O Captain! My Captain! (p. 945)
Chapter 30: What is Poetry?
Missed Time (p. 956)
Chapter 31: Two Critical Casebooks: Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes
Mother to Son (p. 975)Write your own poem in the form of advice
Chapter 32: Critical Casebook: T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (p. 995)
Chapter 33: Poems for Further Reading
Ethics (p. 1072)
Poetry Alive!- worth ______points
To introduce Poetry Alive, we are going to watching a video of Al Letson performing his poem
“The Ball, the Rim, and Him.” Pay particular attention to how Mr. Letson uses gestures and
movement to bring the poem “alive” for his audience.
After this, you should choose one of the following poems from the pages your teacher tells you
for your group or solo Poetry Alive! Performance poem. When you know what poem you will
be performing, please let your teacher know, since I do not want more than one group
performing the same poem. I will then give your group the rest of the poem. Think carefully
before you choose, however, as I will not let you change it once you have picked it.
You will have part of the period to practice your performance and create props/background
pieces, if necessary. Keep in mind you do not have to memorize the poem, but it should be
familiar enough to you that you can partially conceal the fact you are looking over the words as
you bring it alive for the class.
The second half of class you will perform your poem.
If time remains at the end of our unit, we will study the poetry of John Donne and watch the film
Wit, for which here is the study guide:
Study Guide to Wit
Before beginning the film, it is important to have a brief understanding of what Metaphysical
poetry is. The main character of Vivian studies the Metaphysical poets, and eventually she
becomes more concerned with being a scholar than a person. This obsession leads to her
reflection of her life when she learns she has cancer.
Metaphysical Poets
-metaphysics refers to “speculations on principles that govern realms of knowledge and beauty”
(Qtd. in Adventures in English Literature)
-term was first used in reference to these specific poets by Samuel Johnson, an 18th century
critic, who said the poets liked to “display obscure and specialized learning in their poems”
-poets also display “verbal wit,” which they became renowned for (and hence supplies the title of
the film)
-Dr. Johnson also criticized poet’s use of “discordia concors,” or paradox, which is usually found
in all of these poems
-The poets’ goal was to “draw together dissimilar ideas to create positive expressive energy”
(Qtd. in Adventures in English Literature)
-themes of the poems were common for the time, love and religion, but the paradox used within
their poetry is that they frequently used religious images to refer to human love and vice-versa
-Major Metaphysical Poets are:
John Donne-Highly educated man. In early life a soldier and adventurer who
frivolous poems to entertain. Later became the most famous preacher of time and began
writing the metaphysical poems, including his Holy Sonnet sequence. (WhoWants to Be a
Millionaire? Fact is he delivered his own funeral
oration a few weeks before his death)
Andrew Marvell
George Herbert
Henry Vaughn
The one Metaphysical poem to understand in order to understand the film is the following:
Holy Sonnet 6
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me,
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery,
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.
By: John Donne
-being scared
-importance of human touch
-promise of salvation not standing up to scrutiny
-value of human life
-not living life-”Don’t go back to library. Enjoy yourself with friends.”
- “Brevity is the soul of Wit.”
- “Once I did the teaching, now I am taught.”
- she denied- “The touch of human kindness she now seeks”
- “You’ll still take care of me, won’t you Suzy; “Of course, sweetheart, don’t you
- “Hard things are what I like best.”
- “I knew...I read between the lines.”
- “It came so quickly after taking so long.”
- “They always want to know more things.”
- “She’s DNR” (Suzy); “She’s research”(Jason)
- “What happens at the end? Do you ever solve the puzzle?”
- “On flights of angels/ sing thee to thy rest.”
Comments Film Makes/Questions Film Asks
-Importance of human touch
-simple human truths VS. Scholarly standards
-How time hangs/weighs/yet there is so little of it
-impersonal nature of doctors
-why did she choose to be a scholar?
-relationship with father - wasn’t always a loner
-having doubts
-She doesn’t want visitors--why?
-Why did she choose to be a scholar?
-How does her being a scholar effect her as a patient?
-How is Vivian seen as positive & negative?
-How is Suzy seen? Jason? Eve, her former teacher?
-Why doesn’t Jason help when she is in so much pain?
Read like a Rock Star 2nd 9 Weeks Assignment
What to Read --Choose a book from the list on the following pages, remembering that you will
complete your literary analysis research paper the second nine weeks on this book.
The following is a list of assignments you will complete when you are done reading your book.
For some of the following, you will have a choice. For others, there will be no choice but to
complete every part of the assignment. We may have additional assignments on the book as I
see fit.
Quiz- on _______________________
You will be asked some long-response questions related to your book to ensure you read and
understood it. You will essentially be proving to me you actually read the book. About two
weeks before the quiz, I will ask you what your book is so I can gear a specific quiz toward your
book. Your quiz will be worth 50 points.
Book Talk- on _______________________
For this assignment, we will set up the room into “tables” so we look like a sophisticated book
club. You will have topics on cards at each table in which you will have to discuss something
about your book. You will also bring a food dish or drink (that you have made or bought that
serves eight to ten people) that was either mentioned in or inspired culturally by your book. I
will have a sign-up sheet so we have a balance of food and drinks on that day in your class.
Your food dish will be worth 25 points. Your sophisticated discussion comments that I will go
around the classroom and monitor will also be worth 25 points.
Discussion Board Assignment
On the discussion board section of, you need to respond to a discussion I
started on “Why I Do (or Do Not) Recommend my Read like a Rock Star book…” by writing at
least four sentences. Write a response to one of your peer’s sentences that is at least one
sentence long. This will be due on _____________ by 11: 59 pm.
This assignment is worth 10 points.
Reading Log Assignment--You will need to complete four reading logs during Read like a Rock
Star. Your reading logs will be turned in to The following are your due
Reading Log #1- ____________by 11:59 pm
Reading Log #2- ____________by 11:59 pm
Reading Log #3- ____________by 11:59 pm
Reading Log #4- ____________by 11: 59 pm
This is what you need to do for each reading log:
1. Write your book title (italicized) and author’s name centered on the page
2. Write the page numbers you read this week directly below it. (Ex—I read p. 14-58.)
3. Write an at least five sentence summary of the pages you read. (Keep in mind that you
should be reading about twenty minutes a day.)
4. Answer five of the following per log with an at least three sentence response for each.
Your options are:
a. Three things I learned are…
b. A really good description is…
c. The best part of this section was...because…
d. I want to know more about…
e. I can relate to (name a character) because…
f. The setting is important because…
g. This reminds me of…
h. I predict______ will happen…
i. These pages were boring because…
j. The theme in this story is…
k. (Name a character) surprised me when…
l. (Name a literary device) was used in the line…
m. These pages were interesting because…
n. The conflict in this section is…
You are allowed to use some of the same questions on your log, but obviously your
answers may not be the same. Your log will be worth 20 points each week.
Project Assignment
Choose one of the following projects to complete by the time class starts on ________. Your
choices are:
 Design an advertising campaign to promote the sale of the book you read. Include each
of the following: a poster, a magazine or newspaper ad, a bumper sticker, a button, and a
30 second television commercial. (Note: This must be original. Do not violate
copyright law in the making of your advertising campaign.)
 Create a comic-book summary of the book you read complete with bubble-style
conversations and illustrations. This needs to be a minimum of fifteen pages.
 Write at least ten diary entries for a diary kept by one of the characters in your book.
This should be a minimum of 500 words. You may choose to handwrite or type this.
You may want to follow the style of the times. (For example, if you are reading Pride
and Prejudice you have a diary of the time period and write in cursive.)
 Create a time capsule of significant items representing the events of the book or their
lives in general. Make a list of the at least fifteen items included, explaining why each
was chosen. (If this turns out to be financially impossible, you may make models of
items to go into the capsule. I do not want you to buy an actual ipod, for example, to go
into your time capsule.)
 Write a 500-750 word proposal explaining why your book should be studied in a course
at school. It could be in an English class, or it could be offered in another subject—such
as social studies, science, or art. To make a strong case, your proposal should show you
understand the scope and goals of the class and should explain how including the book
would enrich this particular class. You will initially need to present your proposal to the
class, then you will (after the class’ suggestions) submit your proposal to an
 On a poster board, use words, pictures, paint, markers, and whatever else you deem
artistically and creatively necessary to make a collage on your book. The collage should
illustrate the plot or characters. You will want to include at least twenty phrases or
quotes from the book; include at least twenty pictures. Include a written explanation of
the images/quotes on the bottom corner of the collage. Be sure to include the page
numbers and a citation after the quote.
 Compile a scrapbook on your book. The scrapbook should illustrate one of the
characters, including items mentioned in the book as well as items you think that
character would collect. Include at least twenty pictures or items, plus at least 250 words
explaining the items.
This is worth 75 points. How you do on all of these assignments combined will determine if you
receive a literacy card the next nine weeks.
Read like a Rock Star Independent Read: Student Choice of Books by British Authors
Directions: Choose one of the following books to read for our school-wide independent read starting on _______
and due on __________. You should:
Choose a book that will interest you, since you will write your literary analysis research paper on this book.
Be prepared to also complete individual assignments/quiz/projects based on your book; the quiz on your
book will be on ___________.
Be aware that you will write your literary analysis research paper on this book.
Check to make sure there is a plentiful amount of literary criticism on your book before you begin to read
it--since otherwise you will not be able to write a decent literary analysis research paper—by visiting: (password: sebr_log) or
Ask me if SHS has a copy of the book you can borrow before you choose to buy it. If you choose to buy
your own, you might want to check out Amazon Marketplace, where I have purchased books for a penny
(excluding shipping and handling).
Take notes as you read so you will remember the important aspects of the book.
Consider what you will write your literary analysis on. Some aspects to consider analyzing are:
1. the main character
2. the minor characters
3. the setting
4. the themes
5. the author’s point of view/style
The following are suggested choices which will have copious amounts of literary criticism, which will
make it easier to write the paper on your book (NOTE: If you would like to read an alternative British
literature book to do your RLARS assignments and literary analysis research paper that you believe
is of the same quality as the books listed here, please consult with your teacher so she can give you
permission to read an alternative book):
Austen, Jane, Emma, A classic novel about a self-assured young lady whose capricious behavior
is dictated by romantic fancy. Emma, a clever and self-satisfied young lady, is the daughter and
mistress of the house. Her former governess and companion, Miss Anne Taylor, beloved of both
father and daughter, has just left them to marry a neighbor.
Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice, The romantic clash of two opinionated young people provides
the theme. Vivacious Elizabeth Bennet is fascinated and repelled by the arrogant Mr. Darcy,
whose condescending airs and acrid tongue have alienated her entire family. Their spirited
courtship is conducted against a background of ballroom flirtations and drawing-room intrigues.
Austen, Jane, Sense and Sensibility, When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his
estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor,
Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but
their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne.
Through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both
the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.
Beckett, Samuel, Waiting for Godot, The story line evolves around two seemingly homeless men
waiting for someone--or something--named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon wait near a tree on a
barren stretch of road. The result is a comical wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense,
which has been interpreted as a somber summation of mankind's search for meaning.
Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre, This is a stormy, intense, introspective novel of the mid 19th
century which probes the psychology of passion. The heroine is a governess, an orphan, penniless
and plain but full of courage and spirit. The hero is a brooding, melancholy figure, a stranger given
to rough outbursts of temper.
Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights, A savage, tormented classic love story set in the English
moors. The central character is Heathcliff, an orphan, picked up in the streets of Liverpool and
brought home by Mr. Earnshaw and raised as one of his own children. Bullied and humiliated
after Earnshaw's death by his son, Heathcliff falls passionately in love with Catherine.
Burgess, Anthony, A Clockwork Orange, Story of gang violence and social retribution, set in
some iron-gray superstate of the future. This is the first-person account of a juvenile delinquent
who undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for aberrant behavior.
Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, the Ugly Duchess, the Mock Turtle, the
Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat-characters each more eccentric than the last, and that could
only have come from Lewis Carroll, the master of sublime nonsense. He has created one of the
most famous and fantastic novels of all time that not only stirred our imagination but
revolutionized literature.
Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness, In this searing tale, Seaman Marlow recounts his journey to
the dark heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the elusive Mr. Kurtz. Far from civilization as he
knows it, he comes to reassess not only his own values, but also those of nature and society. For in
this heart of darkness, it is the fearsome face of human savagery that becomes most visible.
Defoe, Daniel, Moll Flanders, What happens to a woman forced to make her own way through
life in 17th century England? This story retells Moll's life from her birth in Newgate Prison to her
final prosperous respectability--gained through a life where all human relationships could be
measured in value by gold.
Dickens, Charles, A Tale of Two Cities, The classic novel about the French Revolution and its
effect upon the lives of several individuals, one French and the other English.
Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s
adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his
vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are
his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally
humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently
impecunious Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations. In David Copperfield—the novel
he described as his "favorite child"—Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create
one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal
Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations, In what may be Dickens’s best novel, humble, orphaned
Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman—and
one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great
expectations.” In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling
characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled
only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.
Dickens, Charles, Hard Times, Classic novel which depicts the callous nature of Victorian
education, the ills of industrial society. Thomas Gradgrind, a fanatic, has raised his children, Tom
and Louisa, in an atmosphere of the grimmest practicality. Louisa marries the banker Josiah
Bounderby partly to protect her brother who is his employee and partly because her education has
caused her to be unconcerned about her future. Tom, shallow and unscrupulous, robs Bounderby's
bank and tries to frame someone else. Find out what happens when Louisa falls for another man,
when Tom's guilt is discovered, and when their father realizes how his principles have affected his
children's lives.
Eliot, George, Silas Marner, The story's main character is a friendless weaver who cares only for
his cache of gold. He is ultimately redeemed through his love for Eppie, an abandoned goldenhaired baby girl, whom he discovers shortly after he is robbed and raises as his own child.
Eliot, George, Middlemarch, Middlemarch is often argued to be the best novel ever written in
English. Through several interrelated plots, Eliot creates a deep and realistic portrait of a
provincial English community.
Fielding, Henry, Tom Jones, One of the great comic novels in the English language, Tom Jones
was an instant success when it was published in 1749. Tom is discovered one evening by the
benevolent Squire Allworthy and his sister Bridget and brought up as her son in their household
until it is time for him to set out in search of both his fortune and his true identity.
Forster, E.M., Howard's End, A chance acquaintance brings together the prosperous bourgeois
Wilcox family and the clever, cultured, and idealistic Schlegel sisters. As clear-eyed Margaret
develops a friendship with Mrs. Wilcox, the impetuous Helen brings into their midst a young bank
clerk named Leonard Bast, who lives at the edge of poverty and ruin. When Mrs. Wilcox dies, her
family discovers that she wants to leave her country home, Howards End, to Margaret. Thus
Forster sets in motion a chain of events that will entangle three different families and brilliantly
portrays their aspirations for personal and social harmony.
Forster, E.M., A Room with a View, When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett
find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson and son George
step in to remedy the situation. Meeting the Emersons could change Lucy's life forever but, once
back in England, how will her experiences in Tuscany affect her marriage plans?
Forster, E.M., A Passage to India, Among the greatest novels of the twentieth century, A Passage
to India tells of the clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century. In exquisite
prose, Forster reveals the menace that lurks just beneath the surface of ordinary life, as a common
misunderstanding erupts into a devastating affair.
Fowles, John, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The plot centers on Charles Smithson, an amateur
Victorian paleontologist. He is engaged to Ernestina Freeman, a conventional, wealthy woman,
but he breaks off the engagement after a series of secret meetings with the beautiful, mysterious
Sarah Woodruff, a social outcast known as the forsaken lover of a French lieutenant.
Galsworthy, John, Forsyte Saga, The three novels which make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle
the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and
1920. Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider
developments within society, particularly the changing position of women. This is the only critical
edition of the work available, with Notes that explain contemporary artistic and literary allusions
and define the slang of the time.
Hardy, Thomas, Mayor of Casterbridge, The novel is set in southwest England, in the Wessex
area, shortly before 1830. It tells the story of Michael Henchard, an itinerant laborer who, in a
moment of drunken despair, sells his wife at auction. After Henchard has become prosperous, his
act of inhumanity comes back to haunt him, and finally to destroy him. This is the record of an
anguished soul, as it struggles hopelessly against a relentless, fatal retribution, makes one of the
great novels of the English language.
Hardy, Thomas, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, In Tess, victimized by lust, poverty, and hypocrisy,
Thomas Hardy created no standard Victorian heroine, but a women whose intense vitality flares
unforgettably against the bleak background of a dying rural society. Shaped by an acute sense of
social injustice and by a vision of human fate cosmic in scope, her story is a singular blending of
harsh realism and indelibly poignant beauty. The novel shocked its Victorian audiences with its
honesty; it remains a triumph of literary art and a timeless commentary on the human condition.
Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World, "Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous
Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression,
babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie
that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is
provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young
women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley
foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today--let's hope the sterility
and absence of individuality he predicted aren't yet to come.
Ishiguro, Kazuo, Remains of the Day, Greeted with high praise in England, this winner of the
Booker Prize, Ishiguro's third novel (after An Artist of the Floating World ) is a tour de force-both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order. Stevens, an
elderly butler who has spent 30 years in the service of Lord Darlington, ruminates on the past and
inadvertently slackens his rigid grip on his emotions to confront the central issues of his life.
Glacially reserved, snobbish and humorless, Stevens has devoted his life to his concept of duty
and responsibility, hoping to reach the pinnacle of his profession through totally selfless
dedication and a ruthless suppression of sentiment. Having made a virtue of stoic dignity, he is
proud of his impassive response to his father's death and his "correct" behavior with the spunky
former housekeeper, Miss Kenton. Ishiguro builds Stevens's character with precisely controlled
details, creating irony as the butler unwittingly reveals his pathetic self-deception. In the poignant
denouement, Stevens belatedly realizes that he has wasted his life in blind service to a foolish man
and that he has never discovered "the key to human warmth."
Joyce, James, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Here is one of the masterpieces of modern
fiction. This semi-autobiographical Irish novel focuses on Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and
creative young man who rebels against his family, his education, and his country by committing
himself to the artistic life.
Lawrence, D.H., Sons and Lovers, The novel revolves around Paul Morel, a sensitive young artist
whose love for his mother, Gertrude, overshadows his romances with two women. Unable to
watch his mother die slowly of cancer, Paul kills her with morphine.
Maugham, William Somerset, Of Human Bondage, The author wrote this novel to free himself
from the demons that haunted him from his heart wrenching childhood and difficult young
adulthood; it is ranked among the greatest works of British literature. This is a moving story of
Philip Carey, a hero full of fears and feelings.
More, Sir Thomas, Utopia, Did you know that the word "utopia" first appeared in Sir Thomas
More's book? More describes a pagan and communist city-state which is governed by reason.
The order and dignity of such a place was intended to contrast with the unreasonable state of the
Europe of his time. More saw Europe divided by self-interest and greed for power and riches.
Orwell, George, 1984, In 1948 a book burst in on the reading public which forecast a world so
nightmarish, so devoid of promise, that it seemed the work of a Mephistophelian mind. The year
1948 was to all appearances an odd time for dire prediction: America had just helped save the
world from tyranny in a world war thought to be definitive; Americans were about to elect a
Midwestern common man to the presidency; the new-sprung United Nations was supposed to
become a forum of benevolent multiplicity. This astonishing novel was set in a year so distant that
it seemed incomprehensible; but the year 1984 has passed and it is time to read or reread Orwell's
predictions about the future.
Rhys, Jean, Wide Sargasso Sea, Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole
heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is
married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known--a house
with a garden where "the paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh
living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids
flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched." The novel is Rhys's answer to Jane
Eyre. Charlotte Brontë's book had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell--that of the
madwoman in the attic, Rochester's terrible secret. Antoinette is Rhys's imagining of that lockedup woman, who in the end burns up the house and herself. Wide Sargasso Sea follows her voyage
into the dark, both from her point of view and Rochester's. It is a voyage charged with souldestroying lust. "I watched her die many times," observes the new husband. "In my way, not in
hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house
was empty."
Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is a combination of gothic
romance and science fiction, the book tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss student of
natural science who creates an artificial man from pieces of corpses and brings his creature to life.
Rejected and reviled for his hideous appearance, the creature learns the ways of humans, but he
cannot find companionship. Increasingly brutal, the monster haunts Frankenstein and insists that
he create a female companion. Frankenstein almost complies but in the end cannot perform the
deed. The monster eventually brings about the scientists destruction. And then the name
Frankenstein becomes popularly attached to the creature itself.
Stoker, Bram, Dracula, The vampire novel that started it all. Bram Stoker's Dracula probes
deeply into human identity, sanity, and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. When
Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes
horrifying discoveries about his client. Soon afterward, disturbing incidents unfold in England-an
unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby, strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck,
and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his "Master"-culminating in a
battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries.
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver's Travels describes the four fantastic voyages of
Lemuel Gulliver, a kindly ship's surgeon. Swift portrays him as an observer, a reporter, and a
victim of circumstance. His travels take him to Lilliput where he is a giant observing tiny people.
In Brobdingnag, the tables are reversed and he is the tiny person in a land of giants where he is
exhibited as a curiosity at markets and fairs. The flying island of Laputa is the scene of his next
voyage. The people plan and plot as their country lies in ruins. It is a world of illusion and
distorted values. The fourth and final voyage takes him to the home of the Houyhnhnms, gentle
horses who rule the land. He also encounters Yahoos, filthy bestial creatures who resemble
Thackeray, William Makepeace, Vanity Fair, The English classic about a social climber in
Victorian London. The author said while writing this novel, "What I want to make is a set of
people living without God in the world, greedy, pompous men, perfectly self-satisfied for the most
part, and at ease about their superior virtue." The two boarding school friends, Amelia and Becky
are contrasted. Becky is clever, scheming and determined to get on in the world and sets her sights
on winning over Amelia's rich, stupid brother. Amelia is loved by two men. Find out what happens
in the lives of these two women.
Wilde, Oscar, Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry Wotton is a spectator in life and he does his
best to influence Dorian in that direction. Dorian becomes corrupt and self-indulgent. But in
answer to his prayer, he escapes unscarred from his escapades. The portrait of this man powerfully
establishes evil as a reality in the novel.
Woolf, Virginia, Mrs. Dalloway, This brilliant novel explores the hidden springs of thought and
action in one day of a woman’s life. Direct and vivid in her account of the details of Clarissa
Dalloway’s preparations for a party she is to give that evening, Woolf ultimately managed to
reveal much more. For it is the feeling behind these daily events that gives Mrs. Dalloway its
texture and richness and makes it so memorable.
Woolf, Virginia, A Room of One's Own, In one of the most entertaining and brilliant essays ever
written on the importance of freedom for women, Woolf brings her literary imagination and
defiant wit to bear on the relationship between gender, money, and the creation of works of
(Source: This list is from the book Outstanding Books for the College Bound. The descriptions
for these books were found at: ).
Literary Analysis Research Paper on British Literature Book
Upcoming Due Dates:
 Paper Proposal is due _________(10 points)
-We will work on this ______________
-You need to write at least five sentences on what you will be analyzing.
-Your last sentence is your thesis statement.
-Remember you should consider analyzing something like:
the main character
the minor characters
the setting
the themes
the author’s point of view/style
-Turn this into the discussion board of
Brainstorming is due _____________ (25 points)
-Use the brainstorming template provided on the next few pages to do the
formal brainstorming. If you do this with fidelity, it will totally make
working on the rough draft super-easy! We will work
on this in-class on __________.
Works Cited is due _______________ (25 points)
-Remember to use Panther Central to find your sources!
Rough Draft of Research Paper is due __________(50 points)
-We will work on this ______________________
-It needs to be 1200-1500 words.
-You do not need an outline or a title page.
-You need citations from FIVE literary criticisms (use each criticism at least
one time) on your book and FIVE QUOTES from the book itself (at least
TEN quotes).
-Remember I will not put comments on your rough draft; I will briefly
conference with you the day you do peer editing; if you need additional
help please make arrangements to see me.
Peer Editing of Research paper is due _________ (15 points)
-We will work on this in class on ________
Final Draft of Research Paper is due ________ (200 points)
-We will work on this ________________________
-It needs to be 1200-1500 words.
-You do not need an outline or a title page.
-You need citations from FIVE literary criticisms (use each criticism at least
one time) on your book and FIVE QUOTES from the book itself (at least
TEN quotes).
-You must have made copious corrections from your rough draft so I can see
your improvements.
Prezi, Issuu, or Powerpoint Presentation of Research Paper is presented
_____________(worth 50 points)*
o We will work on this ______________________. You should:
 Create a powerpoint of at least ten slides (and your title slide and Works Cited
slides are not part of the ten)
 Include a brief summary of your book
 Include your thesis statement to your research paper.
 Include quotes from the book and critics which you used to prove your thesis.
 Include at least five pictures/illustrations/video clips (as long as that video is not
the trailer to the movie) that relate to your book
 Include a Works Cited slide AND a slide crediting the pictures you used in the
presentation with a hyperlink
 Make the powerpoint interesting so people would want to read this book
 Make sure your presentation takes between two to five minutes to present.
The signature below is my word and my pledge to do my absolute best on my research paper this nine
Name __________________________________
Brainstorming for Literary Analysis Research Paper
Directions: Complete the following brainstorming activity on your literary analysis research
paper. You will notice that your teacher has listed MORE quotes on these pages than will be
required for your rough and final drafts; this is due to the fact she knows you are capable of more
than just the minimum requirements. You will also have a variety of quotes to choose from
when you go to write your paper. (Per usual, you are welcome!)
Title of Literary Criticism #1:
Author/s of Literary Criticism #1:
Summary of Literary Criticism #1:
Quote from Literary Criticism #1 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Additional Quote from Literary Criticism #1 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Title of Literary Criticism #2:
Author/s of Literary Criticism #2:
Summary of Literary Criticism #2:
Quote from Literary Criticism #1 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Additional Quote from Literary Criticism #1 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Title of Literary Criticism #3:
Author/s of Literary Criticism #3:
Summary of Literary Criticism #3:
Quote from Literary Criticism #3 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Additional Quote from Literary Criticism #3 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Title of Literary Criticism #4:
Author/s of Literary Criticism #4:
Summary of Literary Criticism #4:
Quote from Literary Criticism #4 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Additional Quote from Literary Criticism #4 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Title of Literary Criticism #5:
Author/s of Literary Criticism #5:
Summary of Literary Criticism #5:
Quote from Literary Criticism #5 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Additional Quote from Literary Criticism #5 with proper citation at end of sentence:
Title of Read like a Rock Star Book:
Author of Book:
Quote #1 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #2 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #3 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #4 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #5 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #6 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #7 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #8 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #9 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Quote #10 from Book with proper citation at end of sentence:
Tentative Thesis Statement for Literary Analysis Research Paper:
Essay on The Importance of Being Earnest (worth 50 points)
Directions: Choose one of the following topics for your in-class essay. Remember you need to include at least
two quotes from the play, plus at least one quote from the critics on the following pages, in your essay.
Remember to include a citation after your quote.
1. Wilde suggests that his Victorian contemporaries should treat trivial matters with greater respect and pay less
attention to what society then regarded as serious. Discuss how Wilde expresses this philosophy and comment on
the effectiveness with which he has communicated his “message” with reference to ONE of the following in the
play: death, politics, money, property, food, or marriage.
2. How does Wilde portray food as both a weapon and a means of demonstrating one's power? Discuss three
examples from the play to demonstrate how Wilde uses food.
3. Are the characters in this play realistic or unrealistic? Compare and contrast two major characters, analyzing
their “realistic” and “unrealistic” natures.
4. A critic once described that one of the keys to Oscar Wilde’s comic technique in this play is the way he “pokes
fun at conventional Victorian seriousness by fitting solemn moral language to frivolous and ridiculous action.”
Write an essay in which you locate and examine several moments in the play when this technique can be seen to
operate. Can you find any moments when this technique seems to be reversed—when frivolous and ridiculous
language is fitted to solemn moral action?
5. Why is Oscar Wilde’s play funny? Analyze Wilde’s humor using examples from the play.
Arnold Schmidt
Schmidt holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and specializes in literature and drama. In this essay, he
examines Wilde’s play in the context of Victorian concepts of “earnestness.”
To modern theatre audiences, the title of Oscar Wilde’s most popular play, The Importance of Being Earnest, seems
a clever play on words. After all, the plot hinges on the telling of little — and not so little — white lies, while the
title suggests that honesty (earnestness) will be the rule of the day. The title also implies a connection between the
name and the concept, between a person named Earnest and that person being earnest. The narrative action does not
bear out this assumption but rather its opposite. Audiences who saw the play when it opened in London in 1895
would have brought to it more complex associations with “earnestness,” a word which historians, sociologists, and
literary critics alike see as, at least in part, typifying the Victorian mindset.
The word “earnest” has three related meanings: to be eager or zealous; to be sincere, serious, and determined; and to
be important, not trivial. During Queen Victoria’s more than half-century reign, tremendous economic, social, and
political changes rocked Great Britain. These were caused by earnest actions and their consequences required,
indeed demanded, earnest responses. The Agricultural Revolution dislocated rural populations, forcing people to
leave the countryside for cities. There, those people became workers in the factories created by the Industrial
Revolution. While, over the long term, the British nation as a whole benefited from these changes, individuals often
suffered greatly.
Even the wealthy were not immune to the changing economy’s negative impact on land values. In The Importance
of Being Earnest, this becomes clear when Lady Bracknell inquires into the finances of Jack Worthing,
Gwendolen’s choice for a husband. When Jack indicates that he has suitable income, she is pleased it comes from
stock rather than land, for the declining value of “land. . . gives one position, and prevents one from keeping it up.”
By the mid-nineteenth century, discussions concerning issues of economic disparity came to be known as the “two
Englands” debate. People considered what would happen to Britain if economic trends continued to enrich the few
while the majority of the population worked long hours in dangerous factories, underpaid and living in squalor.
Writers and intellectuals as well as evangelicals and politicians earnestly engaged in this debate. Poets and novelists
such as Elizabeth Barrett, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell, created literary works which portrayed the lives
of the underprivileged. Writings such as these ultimately contributed to changing public attitudes — and more
importantly — public policy toward practices like child labor and public executions. Reforms in hospitals and
orphanages, prisons and workhouses, schools and factories can all be traced to debates initiated or fueled by writers.
The earnestness of all these reformers — artistic, intellectual, religious, and political — improved the quality of the
life in Victorian Britain.
Earnestness did not characterize only those who addressed social evils, however, but also those whose activities
created social problems in the first place. The farmers, investors, and manufacturers whose actions dislocated rural
populations and resulted in the squalor of factory towns like Manchester, were also “earnest” about their actions.
They believed they were improving the quality of peoples’ lives and, in some ways, they were.
Overall, the country produced more abundant, cheaper food and better quality, affordable mass produced goods like
clothing. Indeed, historian Asa Briggs termed the middle of the nineteenth century “The Age of Improvement” (a
phrase he employed as the title of his book on the subject), because of the rising living conditions but also because
of the concern to improve the quality of life, to ensure that each generation lived better than the last.
Like British farmers and industrialists, British colonial administrators also justified the nation’s imperial ambitions
because they “improved” the lives of “uncivilized” peoples, giving them Christianity, British cultural values, and
higher living standards. This attitude came to be know as, in author Rudyard Kipling’s words, “the white man’s
Many of those enriching themselves in this way would acknowledge that their actions caused suffering as well as
benefits. They justified their actions based on the utilitarianism of thinkers like John Stewart Mill. Utilitarians
determine the rightness of an action by asking if certain actions produce the most good for the most people. If people
in general benefited, the suffering of a few specific people could be tolerated as the price paid for progress. While
this approach may seem callous and self-serving, these thinkers and tycoons were also “earnest” in their actions.
Yet the characters in Wilde’s play are not earnest in this sense. Their actions satirize popular notions of the idle rich
but also poke fun at Utilitarianism as well. When Jack admits to Lady Bracknell that he smokes, she replies that “a
man should have an occupation.” Later, Algernon admits that he doesn’t “mind hard work where there is no definite
object of any kind.” Jack and Algernon have no real occupations or professions; their purposelessness critiques the
“earnest” nature of Utilitarian activities.
Now we can see that Wilde’s use of “earnestness” is more complex than it may first appear to modern audiences.
Indeed, his play offers rather biting, if understated, criticism of the institutions and values that had, by the end of the
nineteenth century, made Britain the world’s greatest colonial power. Ironically, it is exactly the earnestness
exhibited by Britain’s exploitative class, industrial, and colonial systems that enables the life of leisure enjoyed by
the play’s main characters. When asked about his politics, Jack replies, “Well, I am afraid I really have none,”
though the Liberal Unionist party with which he identifies supports the continued colonial status of Ireland.
Britain’s colonial system comes up again when Algernon jokes about sending Jack to Australia, emigration then
being a common way to prevent excess population from causing unemployment and lower wages. Investment in
stocks — the source of Jack’s wealth — provided economic support for Britain’s expanding economy, and by the
play’s end, we learn that his father served as a general in colonial India, a common road to personal enrichment
during the Victorian age.
The rich are not the only targets of Wilde’s wit, for the playwright satirizes earnestness and reformers of all kinds, in
morality, education, women’s rights, and marriage.
Reformers religious and secular alike expended much energy on improving the morals of the working classes,
particularly in regard to family life, procreation, and child-rearing. In this regard reformers often emphasized the
importance of the positive example to be set by upper class behavior. The servant Lane tells Algernon he had “only
been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.” Algernon
turns the reformers’ ideas on their heads, observing “Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really if the
lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them.” The comedy comes by satirizing the
serious ideas of earnest critics of the class system (particularly communist thinkers such as Karl Marx), who
wondered exactly what the purpose of the wealthy might be. Finally, Miss Prism’s conversation about christening
the poor reveals an underlying anxiety about the sexuality and population growth of the working classes.
Earnest reformers engaged in the public debate about education, which expected to “improve” the middle and
working classes and enhance the “culture,” as Matthew Arnold wrote, of the country in general. One forum for
popular education, begun during the eighteenth century, was public lectures, and Wilde satirizes the earnest, if
misdirected, efforts of educational societies whose talks have titles like “Society for the Prevention of Discontent
among the Upper Orders” and a “Lecture by the University Extension Scheme on the Influence of a Permanent
Income on Thought.”
Wilde also satirizes the ineffectiveness of the education for the privileged in the scenes between Miss Prism and her
reluctant student Cecily. More generally, though, Lady Bracknell proclaims: “The whole theory of modern
education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it
did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes and probably lead to acts of violence.” Lady Bracknell links
education of the poor with social unrest, fearing that the educated masses might forget their place and reject
hierarchical class structure.
The independence and audacity of Wilde’s female characters reflects the changing status of Victorian women, part
of a public debate known as “The Women Question.” It was only with the passage of a series of Married Women’s
Property Acts (1870-1908) that women could hold property in their own names. The opinions of Queen Victoria
herself, who opposed women’s suffrage but advocated women’s education, including college, exemplified the
ambiguous situation of women in England during this period.
Cecily and Gwendolen discuss changing gender roles in their conversation about male domesticity, indicating their
belief that “home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man.” Marriage, however, remained most women’s
primary goal and occupation. Arranged marriages had been on the decline since the late-eighteenth century but were
not unknown among the Victorian era’s upper classes. This may have made economic sense, but it did not always
create domestic harmony. Consider Algernon’s lament about the low quality of champagne in the homes of married
men and his belief in the necessity of adultery, “for in marriage, three is company and two is none.” Both comments
highlight the lack of companionship resulting from marriage without compatibility and love, suggesting that the
Victorian husband requires alcohol and a mistress to be happy.
Wilde describes the situation for married women in equally depressing terms. When Lady Bracknell tells of her visit
with the recently widowed Lady Harbury, Algernon remarks that he’s heard that “her hair has turned quite gold from
grief.” The audience anticipates the cliched response, that her hair turned gray or white from sorrow, but Wilde turns
the phrase around.
Why might her hair have turned gold instead? Like many Victorian women, Lady Harbury seems to have been
trapped in a loveless marriage, the kind Lady Bracknell proposes to arrange for Gwendolen. Now that Lady
Harbury’s husband is dead, she is finally free to become who and do what she wants. She feels younger, more
attractive and changes her hair color. While the joke requires that we associate aging and grief, Wilde turns that
around, associating widowhood instead with gold hair and joy. Algernon’s statement could also be an indication of
the new wealth and independence Lady Harbury gained in inheriting her husband’s money. The simple turn of a
phrase communicates a complex reality, in this case, about economic, social, and sexual politics.
The status of the nineteenth century’s educated women remained grim, however, with few occupational outlets other
than teaching. Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess, combines two common female occupations, teaching and novel
writing, another activity at which women flourished (and for which they were criticized). Prism’s confusion between
a baby and a manuscript pokes fun at changing ideas about parenthood and child-rearing. The misplaced baby
symbolizes what critics saw as a confusion of gender roles, when women entered the traditionally masculine world
of the mind. The plight of orphaned baby Jack illustrates the destabilization of family ties, which in his case are
sequentially lost, invented, changed, and discovered.
As Lady Bracknell says, “we live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces,” a position echoed by her daughter’s
comment that “in matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.” To many, Wilde’s The
Importance of Being Earnest may seem a work of “surface” and “style,” but further examination shows it to have
depth and substance as well as humor.
Source: Arnold Schmidt, for Drama for Students, Gale, 1998.
Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest
Clifton Snider
English Department, Emeritus
California State University, Long Beach
Synchronicity and the Trickster in
The Importance of Being Earnest
The idea that Wilde wrote to subvert received ideas--the zeitgeist or spirit of the age--is not new. Jack Zipes
asserts, for example, Wilde's "purpose" in writing his fairy tales was "subversion": "He clearly wanted to subvert the
messages conveyed by [Hans] Andersen's tales, but more important his poetical style recalled the rhythms and
language of the Bible in order to counter the stringent Christian code" (114). In Wilde's masterpiece, The
Importance of Being Earnest, Christianity is certainly one of the prevailing ideas Wilde subverts, but I contend that
the entire play is a subversion of prevailing scientific ideas about how the universe works, the Newtonian notion that
the universe is governed by immutable laws of cause and effect. As Allan Combs and Mark Holland maintain, "the
mechanistic mythos of the Newtonian cosmos . . . presents itself in awesome and austere beauty, but at the same
time robs us of a sense of wonder about the small events of everyday life. Improbable coincidences are diminished
to the trivial" (xxix). Perhaps Wilde had something like this idea in mind when he subtitled his play, "A Trivial
Comedy for Serious People." In any event, the subtitle, like the play itself, is an elegant joke.
Wilde, of course, was not the first Victorian writer to make havoc with a rigid world view. Before him, and
certainly influencing him, came Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and W. S. Gilbert. As the editors of The Oxford
Anthology of English Literature put it, the world of Earnest is "the world of nonsense" (Trilling and Bloom 1130).
And, as I have shown in my study of the work of Lear, the world of nonsense is the world of the Trickster archetype
(Snider, "Victorian Trickster"). Furthermore, "Of all mythological characters," as Combs and Holland write, "it is
the Trickster who is most associated with chance and synchronicity. . ." (xxxix). Synchronicity, a word coined by C.
G. Jung, refers to "meaningful coincidence[s]" that have an "acausal connection," yet are "numinous" (Jung,
"Synchronicity" 426; emphasis Jung's). One method of making sense of the nonsense of Wilde's great play is to
examine the subversive ways Wilde uses, consciously or not, synchronicity and the Trickster to create a pleasing
psychic wholeness at the play's conclusion.
The Importance of Being Earnest is most obviously a comic critique of late Victorian values. Some sixty years
ago, Eric Bentley wrote that the play "is about earnestness, that is, Victorian solemnity, that kind of false
seriousness which means priggishness, hypocrisy, and lack of irony" (111; emphasis Bentley's). 1 As a work of art,
Wilde's last play has been recognized from its first performance on 14 February 1895 as a masterpiece of comedy,2
one of the supreme examples in English of the genre, and consequently it has been interpreted from a variety of
critical points of view. Although Richard Aldington, writing about the same time as Bentley, claimed the play "is a
comedy-farce without a moral, and it is a masterpiece" (40), Katherine Worth does see a moral in her
Freudian/existential/New Critical analysis. In Earnest, she writes, "the pleasure principle at last enjoys complete
triumph" (153; this triumph is an aspect of the Trickster archetype). Worth continues: "As well as being an
existential farce, The Importance of Being Earnest is . . . [Wilde's] supreme demolition of late nineteenth-century
social and moral attitudes, the triumphal conclusion to his career as revolutionary moralist" (155).
Various deconstructionists and Lacanians have dismantled the play, and perhaps the foremost queer critic, Eve
Kosofsky Sedgwick, tackles the play in a piece called, "Tales of the Avunculate: Queer Tutelage in The Importance
of Being Earnest." After covering the deconstructionist and Lacanian territory as explored by Christopher Craft, Joel
Fineman, and Jonathan Dollimore, Sedgwick, in one of her more lucid pronouncements, declares:
As we have seen, the indispensable--but, I am arguing insufficient-- deconstructive reading of
always seems, like the play's hero, to have its origin in a terminus. It doesn't pass Go; it doesn't collect $200; it
heads straight for the end-of-the-third-act anagnorisis (recognition or deforgetting) of the Name of the
Father. (195)
Instead of the Name of the Father, Sedgwick would have us consider the aunts and uncles (the "avunculate" of her
title). Leaving aside the fact that her discussion of the "family" as an issue in current politics (and in Wilde's play) is
already dated (same-sex marriage is on the political menu now), Sedgwick's article, while providing certainly a
legitimate approach to the play, alas vacillates between diction that is clear and semi-colloquial (such as the allusion
to Monopoly above) and hyper-academic diction that violates the spirit of Wilde's comedy (besides "anagnorisis,"
for which she feels she must provide a definition, consider "avunculosuppressive" (199) or "Uncle is very different
[from "Aunt"], not a persona or type but a relation, relying on a pederastic/pedagogical model of male filiation to
which also . . . the modern rationalized inversion and 'homo-' models answer only incompletely and very
distortingly" (197; emphasis Sedgwick's).
Personally, until I noticed the predominance of the Trickster in The Importance of Being Earnest, I found myself
agreeing with Peter Raby: "The play's success and originality do not make it easier to discuss" (120). The comic
social satire is obvious; so are the many examples of Wilde's masterful use of language, from paradox and
parallelism to litotes and understatement. As for the homosexual subtext, it is not immediately easy to uncover any
more than a traditional Jungian discussion of archetypes is easy. Yes, we have the Great Mother archetype,
embodied by Lady Bracknell, but to uncover Jung's concept of Individuation is more difficult. However, I believe I
have found a way (not the way) to unravel the nonsense of the play, at least so that the nonsense itself is meaningful.
One of the problems of an archetypal interpretation of Earnest which is at the same time informed by
contemporary queer criticism is that the play is so much of its time and place (if you consider time to include the
previous hundred or more years and the following more than a hundred years). I tend to agree with Camille Paglia:
"Lord Henry [of The Picture of Dorian Gray], with the four young lovers of The Importance of Being Earnest,
belongs to a category of sexual personae that I call the androgyne of manners, one of the most western of types"
(531). Lady Bracknell is also "an androgyne, a 'Gorgon' with (in the original script) a 'masculine mind'" (535). A
western type is not in itself an archetype; an androgyne is. Androgyny ought to imply psychic wholeness, what Jung
calls the Self, yet despite the allusion to a character from Greek myth, among these specific characters we have at
best shallow images of traditional archetypes, a wholeness only latent until the play concludes. They are indeed
universal beneath the surface, but a more insightful method of viewing them is to explore how the Jungian concept
of synchronicity and the archetypal Trickster work in the play to bring about a kind of wholeness at the play's end.
"Synchronicity," Jung says, "tells us something about the nature of . . . the psychoid factor, i.e., the unconscious
archetype (not its conscious representation!)" (Letter to Michael Fordham 508; emphasis Jung's). Moreover, as
Combs and Holland note, "Synchronicity itself implies wholeness and, therefore, meaningful relationships between
causally unconnected events" (xxxi). As well, Jungian therapist and author Robert H. Hopcke maintains that
synchronistic "events" have four aspects:
First, such events are acausally connected, rather than connected through a chain of cause and effect that an
individual can discern as intentional and deliberate on
her or his own part. Second, such events always
occur with an accompaniment of
deep emotional experience . . . Third, the content of the synchronistic experience,
what the event actually is, is always symbolic in nature, and almost always, I have
found, related specifically to the fourth aspect of the synchronistic event, namely,
that such coincidences occur at points of important transitions in our life. A
synchronistic event very often becomes a turning point in the stories of our lives.
(23; emphasis Hopcke's)
Jung's comment, cited above, that synchronistic events are "numinous" is what Hopcke means by "deep emotional
experience."3 Archetypes (universal ideas, themes, patterns, characters, etc., that reside in and whose images stem
from the collective unconscious), Jung maintained, are "the sources of synchronicity" (Combs and Holland 57). The
archetype most closely related to synchronicity is the Trickster, and the Trickster Combs and Holland see as the best
example of this relationship is Hermes.4 Among many other attributes, Hermes "symbolizes the penetration of
boundaries--boundaries between villages, boundaries between people, boundaries between consciousness and
unconsciousness" (61-62). These boundaries are analogous to the transitions Hopcke refers to, and they are keys to
the appearances of the Trickster in Wilde's Earnest.
Two important boundaries in the play are those between Algernon and Cecily and Jack/Ernest and Gwendolen. One
of the most amusing scenes in the play is that in which Cecily reveals to Algernon, just after they've met, that they
have been engaged "for the last three months" (Wilde 395). One might say that the Trickster, Hermes, "who
personifies the imagination" (Combs and Holland 88), has been the catalyst for the synchronistic event taking place
here: the actual appearance of the man Cecily has imagined as her fiancé and who, subsequently, becomes in fact her
fiancé. In a less dramatic fashion, Gwendolen too has imagined before meeting him her engagement to Jack, who
she believes is really named Ernest. She tells him: "The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend
called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you" (Wilde 362). Although logic suggests that the meetings of the two
couples are not accidental (and therefore not synchronistic), their mutual attraction is both intentional and acausal,
one of the play's paradoxes. In a Newtonian cosmos, one can not force love. In a Looking-Glass world, love flowers
for the most superficial reasons even before the lovers meet. We have here a pair of, to use Jung's words about
synchronicity in another context, "parallel events," which are "utter nonsense . . . looked at from the causal point of
view" (C. G. Jung Speaking 314). The world Wilde has created is a world of nonsense. Synchronicity gives meaning
to the nonsense of these crazy, child-like characters to whom love and marriage depend on the name of the men and
the physical attributes of the women. Their comical meetings and engagements are as numinous they can be in their
Looking-Glass world.
The most obvious cluster of synchronistic events comes in the final act with the appearances of Miss Prism (the
dark side of the Great Mother archetype, for unlike Lady Bracknell she has not only committed a serious crime but
also moralizes in a way foreign to the aristocratic Aunt Augusta), Lady Bracknell, and the famous handbag. That
Miss Prism, of all people, should be the tutor of Cecily, ward of the grown-up baby Prism had abandoned, is in itself
a synchronistic event. The discovery of her identity and of the handbag that solves the mystery of Jack/Ernest's
identity coming at the same time is, of course, a brilliant theatrical device. Lady Bracknell tells Dr. Chasuble, "in
families of high social position [such] strange coincidences are not supposed to occur" (428). But of course they do
occur, and collectively they make a splendid example of synchronicity. Together, these events symbolize the
wholeness of Jack/Ernest's life story (as well as the life stories of the other lovers, including those of Miss Prism and
Dr. Chasuble). Coupled with the confirmation of his real given name, these events confirm and give meaning to his
personal myth.
The trickster myths of native North America, as recounted by Paul Radin, fit Wilde's play as much as the myth of
Hermes does (in fact, being an archetypal trickster, Hermes is not unlike native North American tricksters himself):
The overwhelming majority of all so-called trickster myths in North America . . .
have a hero who is always wandering, who is always hungry, who is not guided
by normal conceptions of good or evil, who is either playing tricks on people
or having them played on him and who is highly sexed. Almost everywhere
he has some divine traits. (155)
Both Algernon and Jack use their fictitious friend or brother, Bunbury and Ernest, to wander from the city to the
country and vice versa. Algernon, for instance, declares he has "Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate
occasions" (355). And, of course, he, among the several tricksters in the play, is the one with the unquenchable
None of the major characters is governed by conventional morality. Indeed, part of the humor--the play, as it
were--of Earnest is the inversion of conventional morality. "Divorces are made in Heaven," says Algy (350). Both
he and Jack are ready to be christened, not on grounds of faith but on their perceived need to change their names to
Ernest. One of the chief reasons Cecily is enamored with Algernon/Ernest is that she thinks he is leading an evil life:
"I hope you have not been leading a double life," she says to him, "pretending to be wicked and being really good all
the time. That would be hypocrisy" (382). And Lady Bracknell, who views christening as a "luxury" (431), also
views Cecily as a suitable bride for Algernon only after she learns how much money Cecily has.
As for the sexual aspect of the trickster, this is a vital subtext of the play. More so than he does in The Picture of
Dorian Gray or Salomé, Wilde keeps sex implicit in Earnest. His characters are too child-like for readers or
audiences to imagine them actually having sex. And it should be said that the child-like playfulness of the Trickster
is part of the action, appealing to the reader/viewer's inner child. Such play, Jung found, is necessary for wholeness
and psychic healing (see Rosen 128-132). For queer critics the most obvious example of the embedded sexuality is
Bunbury, a play on various dimensions of homosexuality in Britain, including sodomy, male bordellos, and Wilde's
own sexual practices (see Craft 28 and Fineman 89). Craft asserts that
serious Bunburyism releases a polytropic sexuality so mobile, so evanescent
in speed and turn, that it traverses, Ariel-like, a fugitive path through oral,
genital, and anal ports until it expends itself in and as the displacements of
language. It was Wilde's extraordinary gift to return this vertigo of substitution
and repetition to his audience. (29)
If Craft's assertions seem too broad, one should recall the unrestrained sexuality of the Trickster, whose "unbridled
sexuality" is one of his chief traits (Radin 167). Remember that one of Hermes's functions is that of boundary
marker, and "boundary marking," according to Jungian analyst Eugene Monick, "is itself a phallic expression" (78),
to which the ancient Grecian herms attest.5 Bunburyism allows Algy to cross boundaries and thus free himself to
pursue his pleasures, just as Jack's invention of a brother does for him. Bunburyism is, then, tricking par excellence.
By necessity Wilde had to dress his characters up as heterosexuals; hence a great deal of the sexual comedy at
least seems heterosexual. Surely the humor of Gwendolen's comment to Jack about her being "quite perfect"
depends on its sexual connotations:
JACK: You're quite perfect, Miss Fairfax.
GWENDOLEN: Oh! I hope I am not that. It would leave no room for
developments, and I intend to develop in many directions.
(Wilde 358; emphasis Wilde's)
During her mock tea table battle with Cecily, Gwendolen declares: "I never travel without my diary. One should
always have something sensational to read in the train" (403). Of this passage, Paglia writes: "The life recorded by
her diary is, says Gwendolen, 'sensational,' a source of public scandal and eroticized fascination. To find one's life
sensational is to be aroused by oneself" (540). Again the Trickster is at play, for few if any in Wilde's initial
audience would have recognized the erotic humor here.
Lady Bracknell, whose knowledge of the world befits her role as matriarch of the play, responds to Jack's
revelation of the place the handbag in which he was found was located thus:
As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a
cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social
indiscretion--has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before
now. . . . (Wilde 368)
Clearly for "social" we can read "sexual" here and, more specifically, "heterosexual," albeit homosexual
indiscretions are surely hinted at as well. Miss Prism, perhaps the chief moralizer and hypocrite of the play,
ironically responds "bitterly" to Jack's admission that his brother Ernest was unmarried: "People who live entirely
for pleasure usually are" (387). The bitterness of her reply is no doubt due to the fact that she, an unmarried woman,
has been not able to live for pleasure. That the pleasure is at least in part of a sexual nature we can take for granted.
The Importance of Being Earnest has been performed by all-male casts, a kind of conscious "trick" on the
audience, who would be well aware of the casting. Paglia declares: "The play's hieratic purity could best be
appreciated if all the women's roles were taken by female impersonators" (535). I maintain another purpose would
be served, and that is to reinforce the shape-changing aspect of the Trickster. Will Roscoe discusses this aspect of
the Scandinavian trickster, Loki, who, among other shapes, changes himself into a woman in several stories (184).
While having female impersonators play the women's roles would reinforce Paglia's thesis about the androgynous
nature of the characters, it would also bring to the surface the homosexual subtext of the play and the corresponding
Trickster role. In fact, dual identity is a Trickster theme throughout the play, with Jack/Ernest, Algernon/Bunbury,
and even with Gribsby/Parker in the excised "Gribsby Episode" (Wilde 440). The idea is played with in Act I when
Jack and Algernon argue about the identity of Cecily.
One more aspect of the Trickster needs to be mentioned: his "divine" aspect (Radin 155). The "divine" nature of
The Importance of Being Earnest derives from its numinous quality, the satisfaction the characters, along with the
reader/audience, receive when, at the play's conclusion, three couples are united. If they are, in Lady Bracknell's
words, "displaying signs of triviality," the signs are psychologically meaningful. For the moment at least, each
couple forms a psychic whole, a fulfillment of their personal myths, wrought by synchronicity and the Trickster
archetype. Indeed, the entire play can be viewed as a performance of the Trickster, the masterwork of the last great
Victorian Trickster himself.
Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory in The Importance of Being Earnest
Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.
From (for your citation, go by the
first two words of the title)
Ernest and Bunbury
The two imaginary people created by Jack and Algernon might symbolize the empty promises or deceit of the
Victorian era. Not only is the character Ernest anything but earnest for the majority of the play, but he also doesn’t
even really exist. This makes Jack’s creation of him doubly deceitful. Bunbury sounds as ridiculous and fictional as
he actually is. Both of them allow Jack and Algernon to live a lie – seeming to uphold the highest moral standards,
while really misbehaving without suffering any consequences. Jack takes it a bit farther since he actually
impersonates his so-called good-for-nothing brother.
Even when Jack and Algernon are caught in their lies, they never suffer any real punishment. That they can both kill
off their imaginary alter egos or friends without much to-do, shows Victorian society’s real values. The Victorian
era did not value honesty, responsibility, or compassion for the under-privileged (neither Lady Bracknell or
Algernon exhibit much pity for Bunbury when he "dies"), but only style, money, and aristocracy. It is appropriate
that the nonexistent characters of Ernest and Bunbury show how shallow are the Victorians’ real concerns.
The handbag in the cloakroom at Victoria Station, the Brighton line
The circumstances of Jack’s abandonment symbolize both his ambiguous social status during the play, and the
possibility of his upward social mobility. Interestingly, the scene has both aristocratic and common elements in it.
The handbag that baby Jack was placed in is – as Miss Prism describes it – completely ordinary. Like any other
well-used purse, it is worn from overuse:
Yes, here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days.
Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage, an incident that occurred in
Leamington. And here, on the lock, are my initials. (III.145)
Thus, this commonplace container contains a baby of uncommon origin. Continuing this theme of disguise, it is no
coincidence that this ordinary-handbag-containing-a-baby is discovered in a cloakroom – a place where outer
garments like cloaks, coats, wraps, and scarves may be hung. These pieces of apparel can all be worn to conceal
one’s true form, face, or identity. In the murderer-in-a-trench-coat kind of way.
Let’s move onto Victoria Station. According to, there were two train stations at the same
site in Wilde’s day – leading to two different sites. The western trail, including the Brighton line, led to the wealthier
parts of London while the eastern road led to places like Chatham and Dover, which were more impoverished. The
fact that baby Jack is at the intersection of these two lines literally puts him in an identity crisis. Does he come from
a poor common family or a rich aristocratic one? Lady Bracknell tends to look on the negative side and judge him as
common until proven noble.
But there is another, more positive way to interpret his discovery at Victoria Station. Trains are all about moving
people to the places where they need to be. If we take Jack’s presence at Victoria Station to be a comment on his
social life, it might suggest that he will have great social mobility – have success in climbing up the social ladder to
a prestigious position. This is foreshadowed by the fact that he’s found specifically on the Brighton line, the road
that leads to the richer parts of town. And indeed the story of Earnest is about Jack’s social advancement. In fact,
he’s revealed at the end to be a true member of the aristocracy – part of the Moncrieff family – which makes him a
worthy husband for another aristocrat, Gwendolen.
So the scene of Jack’s orphaning contains aspects – like the ordinary handbag and the cloakroom – that make him
seem common, but also hints of aristocracy – like the Brighton line – which reveal his true social identity.
Diaries and Miss Prism’s Three-Volume Novel
You might wonder what the heck do Cecily’s and Gwendolen’s diaries have in common with Miss Prism’s threevolume novel – other than the writing part. Well, the writing part is actually important. Think about what you do
when you write. It’s always a very personal activity, because the way you string the words together is completely
your creation. It’s your thoughts that are put down onto paper. Your writing is an expression of yourself. So it’s no
surprise that some people want to keep their personal thoughts private. Hence, you have a diary. Many people’s
thoughts and desires are irrational; instead they’re very idealistic.
This is the point in The Importance of Being Earnest. Almost any type of book or writing, with the sole exception of
Jack’s Army Lists, reveals someone’s wishes or dreams. Cecily’s diary meticulously documents her desire for a
lover and future husband named Ernest. It even includes imaginary love letters. Gwendolen’s diary does the same,
minus the letters. Lady Bracknell’s notebook keeps tabs on men who have the potential to become worthy suitors for
Gwendolen’s hand. Most of the content in these pieces of writing is unrealistic at best or fantastic (in the fairy-tale
sense) at worst. But these thoughts are kept private.
Miss Prism’s three-volume novel, on the other hand, reveals what happens when one tries to impose an impossibly
idealized world onto gritty reality. Miss Prism probably wrote her novel in her younger days, when she was dazzled
by other romantic and sentimental stories published in the same "triple decker" genre. Thus, her writing could have
been a sort of diary, a projection of a perfect inner world – her deepest desire – put into words. But everything fell
apart when she tried to publish it – pushing it into the public sphere. It caused her to forget her real responsibility –
baby Ernest – while she was daydreaming about future success. She lost her job over it and was pursued by Scotland
Yard. Her actions made her a criminal. And Lady Bracknell returns years later to haunt her about it.
So the diaries and three-volume novel of our female characters represent the innermost fantasies of idealistic young
girls, dreams that clash directly with reality. Miss Prism puts it best with her quote: "The good end[s] happily, and
the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means" (II.15). You might want to counter, that very few things actually end
happily-ever-after in the real world.
Every instance where food is mentioned – from the Algernon’s opening discussion of wine with his servant, Lane, to
the girls’ insults over tea and the guys’ climactic fight over muffins – is fraught with conflict. The fight over
something as basic as food – something that every human being has a carnal need for– might represents another
carnal desire: sex. Because the men fight over food the most (Algernon’s wolfing down of the cucumber sandwiches
to Lady Bracknell’s distress, Jack’s settling for bread and butter, Algernon’s consumption of Jack’s wine and
muffins), we suspect that food fights are their way of expressing their sexual frustration in the face of unusually
domineering women. You can’t deny that Lady Bracknell exerts a tremendous amount of power. Even Gwendolen
and Cecily put their male lovers in compromising positions and dictate the terms of their marriages.
6+1 Trait Writing Model : The Importance of Being Earnest
The introduction is
inviting, states the main
topic and previews the
structure of the paper.
The introduction clearly
states the main topic
and previews the
structure of the paper,
but is not particularly
inviting to the reader.
The introduction states
the main topic, but
does not adequately
preview the structure of
the paper nor is it
particularly inviting to
the reader.
There is no clear
introduction of the main
topic or structure of the
Sentence Structure
(Sentence Fluency)
All sentences are wellconstructed with varied
Most sentences are
well-constructed with
varied structure.
Most sentences are
well-constructed but
have a similar
Sentences lack
structure and appear
incomplete or rambling.
Commitment (Voice)
The writer successfully
uses several
reasons/appeals to try
to show why the reader
should care or want to
know more about the
The writer successfully
uses one or two
reasons/appeals to try
to show why the reader
should care or want to
know more about the
The writer attempts to
make the reader care
about the topic, but is
not really successful.
The writer made no
attempt to make the
reader care about the
Support for Topic
Relevant, telling, quality
details give the reader
important information
that goes beyond the
obvious or predictable.
Supporting details and
information are relevant,
but one key issue or
portion of the storyline
is unsupported.
Supporting details and
information are
relevant, but several
key issues or portions
of the storyline are
Supporting details and
information are
typically unclear or not
related to the topic.
Sources (Content)
All sources used for
quotes and facts are
credible and cited
All sources used for
quotes and facts are
credible and most are
cited correctly.
Most sources used for
quotes and facts are
credible and cited
Many sources used for
quotes and facts are
less than credible
(suspect) and/or are
not cited correctly.
The conclusion is strong
and leaves the reader
with a feeling that they
understand what the
writer is "getting at."
The conclusion is
recognizable and ties
up almost all the loose
The conclusion is
There is no clear
recognizable, but does conclusion, the paper
not tie up several loose just ends.
GRADE = ______
The Glass Menagerie Activities
Performance of a Scene- worth 50 points
Choose a scene from the play to revise to fit into modern times. You must have the following in
your performance:
 a speaking part
 props and costumes.
 an introduction to your scene for the audience
 subtle use of note cards (if you choose not to memorize it)
You may perform this live on _______ or videotape your performance.
Chinese Lanterns Activity- worth 25 points
One of several problems that the Wingfield family faces is that the goals they have set for
themselves do not work out. Since this class is comprised of highly intelligent and fascinating
people, I know you will easily be able to focus on your own goal to complete this project. You
will first need to create a Chinese lantern by doing the following:
Fold a rectangular piece of paper in half, making a long, thin rectangle.
Make a series of cuts (about a dozen or more) along the fold line. Don't cut
all the way to the edge of the paper.
Unfold the paper. Glue or staple the short edges of the paper together.
Cut a strip of paper 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Glue or staple this strip of
paper across one end of the lantern - this will be the handle of the lantern.
Before you are finished, write IN 5 WORDS OR LESS YOUR MAIN GOAL IN
LIFE somewhere on your lantern. You may also decorate it in any other way you
feel reflects your personality.
We will then take paperclips to hang the lanterns up
in the ceiling.
Socratic Seminar- worth 50 points
Since we are so close to taking our final exam (and our final exam will cover questions on The
Glass Menagerie), we are going to complete a Socratic Seminar on issues and questions related
to the play instead of a test. You will be required to answer questions as a class, and you will be
graded on your individual participation. If you have never participated in a Socratic Seminar
before, here is some information:
Guidelines for Participants in a Socratic Seminar:
1. Refer to the text when needed during the discussion. A seminar is not a test of memory. You are not
"learning a subject"; your goal is to understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in the text.
2. It's OK to "pass" when asked to contribute, as long as you are able to contribute to another question.
3. Do not participate if you are not prepared, but be aware if you are not prepared your grade will suffer.
4. Do not stay confused; ask for clarification.
5. Stick to the point currently under discussion; make notes about ideas you want to come back to.
6. Don't raise hands; take turns speaking.
7. Listen carefully.
8. Speak up so that all can hear you.
9. Talk to each other, not just to the leader or teacher.
10. Discuss ideas rather than each other's opinions.
11. You are responsible for the seminar, even if you don't know it or admit it.
Expectations of Participants in a Socratic Seminar:
When I am evaluating your Socratic Seminar participation, I ask the following questions about participants. Did
Speak loudly and clearly?
Cite reasons and evidence for their statements?
Use the text to find support?
Listen to others respectfully?
Stick with the subject?
Talk to each other, not just to the leader?
Paraphrase accurately?
Ask for help to clear up confusion?
Support each other?
Avoid hostile exchanges?
Question others in a civil manner?
Seem prepared?
Socratic Seminar: Participant Rubric
A Level Participant
B Level Participant
Participant offers solid analysis without prompting
Through comments, participant demonstrates a good knowledge of
the text and the question
Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and
a marked/annotated text
Participant shows that he/she is actively listening to others
and offers clarification and/or follow-up
 Participant offers some analysis, but needs prompting from the
seminar leader
 Through comments, participant demonstrates a general
knowledge of the text and question
 Participant is less prepared, with few notes and no
marked/annotated text
 Participant is actively listening to others, but does not offer
clarification and/or follow-up to others’ comments
 Participant relies more upon his or her opinion, and less on the text to
drive her comments
C Level Participant
D or F Level Participant
Participant offers enough solid analysis, without prompting, to move
the conversation forward
Participant, through her comments, demonstrates a deep knowledge
of the text and the question
Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and
a marked/annotated text
Participant, through her comments, shows that she is actively
listening to other participants
Participant offers clarification and/or follow-up that extends
the conversation
Participant’s remarks often refer back to specific parts of the text.
Participant offers little commentary
Participant comes to the seminar ill-prepared with little
understanding of the text and questions
Participant does not listen to others, offers no commentary to
further the discussion
Participant distracts the group by interrupting other speakers or
by offering off topic questions and comments.
Participant ignores the discussion and its participants
Questions on The Glass Menagerie to Prepare for Your Socratic Seminar:
1. As you read the play, make a list of references and descriptions of objects you encounter in the “real”
world of life in the Wingfield apartment and another list of what you perceive as “non-real” devices that
enhance the development of the play. Be prepared to share and defend items on your lists with
explanations of how they contribute to various aspects of the play.
2. Describe how you think the Wingfield family deals with their problems.
3. If you could change something for the better in your family life, what would it be? How would you
make this change happen?
4. Is there anyone in the play who reminds you of someone you know? Explain.
5. Who do you identify with the most? Why?
6. Who do you identify with the least? Why?
7. What do you think of Laura and Amanda’s relationship? Why does Amanda keep referring to “us”
when she is talking about Laura?
8. What would you do if you had a mother like Amanda?
9. Choose Tom or Amanda and argue how that character should be considered the main character of the
10. The scenes in this play are told as Tom remembers them. Do you think the story might be different if
Amanda were telling it? How?
11. How will these characters be different ten years in the future?
12. What do you think of the ending of the play?
13. Why does Tom go to the movies so often?
14. What are the similarities between Tom and his father?
15. Why does Amanda nag Tom so much?
16. Why does it take Tom so long to leave home?
17. Why does Amanda blame Tom for the failure of the evening?
18. Why does Laura give the unicorn to Jim?
19. Does Jim have the potential for greatness attributed to him by Laura?
20. Amanda has closed her mind to the reality that Laura has no prospects for gentleman callers. Does
Amanda want the callers for Laura or does she want them so that she can relive her own youth? Explain,
using examples from the play.
21. Tom is a character in the story of the play and the narrator who steps outside of the story and creates
the memory. Do you like that technique in playwriting? Why or why not? How do Tom’s explanations
and comments about his family life affect you? Describe.
22. How is the fire escape a symbol that reveals something about each character’s personality? Do you
think the fire escape represents one character more than another? Explain.
23. In what ways is Laura’s limp symbolic of her inner nature? In what ways are her glass animals
symbols of her personality?
24. When, in scene seven, the unicorn is knocked off the table and it loses its horn, how does this
incident relate to Laura? What is the playwright saying about Laura when she says, “now the unicorn will
be like the other animals”?
25. What symbols—besides the fire escape, Laura’s limp, the candles, and the unicorn—can you find in
the play? Be specific. Then, think of a symbol that describes what you think of your school.
26. At the very end of the play, Tom asks Laura to blow out her candles. What do you think that action
symbolizes to Tom.
27. Of the plays/works we have read this semester, which did you like the most? The least? Why?
Ms. Rosey’s Annual Scarevenger Hunt
-This frightening activity will be done in-class on ______(for A Days) and _______(for B
-You need to make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothing the day of the Scarevenger
Hunt, as we will be doing terrifying tasks inside and outside of the classroom.
-You also need to either bring in a bag of candy OR turn in a story to about the
topic of Halloween that is 250-350 words by the time class starts. You will receive 15 points for
this. (Guess what most people did last year? You got it! Brought in candy!)
-When we are done with the Scarevenger Hunt, everyone will be given a brown bag. We will
then take all of the candy that has been brought in and go “trick or treating.”
-Finally, we will end the class by writing a spooky circle story in a group.
The Scottish Play: A Study in Three Versions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Directions: We will be watching clips from three different film versions of Shakespeare’s The
Tragedy of Macbeth. As you watch, answer the following questions to aid you in your
interpretation of the play. You should be forewarned that the characters will be speaking in
Shakespearean English, which might make it difficult to follow at first. In addition, Macbeth is
an extremely violent play that deals with war and betrayal. It also contains witches as some of
the main characters, and those living in Shakespearean times believed witches were real. The
prophesies the witches make would have been taken seriously by those watching the play, as
well as the characters within the play.
In addition, these films—in my humble opinion—are meant for those who are already an admirer
of Shakespeare, as these three varied versions take some dramatic interpretations with the
material. The Royal Shakespeare Co. Production will be impressive to those of you who are a
fan of live theatre; the PBS Great Performances version is a reimagining of Macbeth as a 1930s
war hero turned evil leader and downright frightening at times; the 1970s version is the most
faithful in costume and scope to what takes place in the play.
It might also help you to follow along with the Spoiler Alerts in your Guidebook and the play
itself in Elements of Literature. This will also aid you as you do additional assignments on
Macbeth, such as an essay, an open book test, and a performance of a scene in a group. (Word to
the Wise: We may not have to do an essay if I see you are paying attention and completing these
questions on your own with fidelity.)
Film #1- The Royal Shakespeare Co. Production of Macbeth
We will watch Act I, Scene i through Act I, Scene iv of this version (from 1:30-19:53)
As you watch, keep in mind that this was a televised version of what you would have
seen on stage in London in 1978. Watch out for a young Ian McKellan (Gandalf in The
Lord of the Rings; Magneto in X-Men), Judi Dench (M in the James Bond films), and Ian
McDiarmid (the evil Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars).
Overall Summary of Scenes Watched:
Well, That Was Different Moment:
I Still Do Not Understand:
Film #2- 1970s Version of Macbeth
We will watch Act I, Scene v through Act II, Scene iv of this version (from 19:031:00:23)
As you watch, reflect on the fact that what was state of the art special effects in the early
1970s probably does not hold up for you as a modern viewer.
Overall Summary of Scenes Watched:
Well, That Was Different Moment:
I Still Do Not Understand:
Which version that we have viewed so far do you prefer? Why?
Film #3- PBS Great Performances Version of Macbeth
We will watch Act III, Scene i through Act IV, Scene ii of this version (from 59:552:14:00)
As you watch, note that Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of Star Trek: Next Generation;
Professor Xavier in X-Men) plays Macbeth. Also note how the 1930s setting changes the
tone of the play.
Please also be aware that this version is frightening at times if you are faint of heart.
Overall Summary of Scenes Watched:
Well, That Was Different Moment:
I Still Do Not Understand:
Which version that we have viewed so far do you prefer? Why?
The Finale--Film #2 (Again)- 1970s Version of Macbeth
 We will watch Act V, Scene iii-through Act V, Scene viii (1:54:33- end)
 Overall Summary of Scenes Watched:
Well, That Was Different Moment:
I Still Do Not Understand:
Which of the film versions did you prefer? Why?
Would you rather have read the play on your own than watch the film? Why or why not?
Macbeth Argument Essay- worth 50 points
In order to prepare you for writing essays under timed pressure (something you will have to do in
upper-level college classes and on the SAT and ACT), your Macbeth argument essay will be
completed in class on _______. You will have some time in class today to pick out two quotes
you will use in your essay. Choose one of the topics below and do the following:
Write a clear introduction paragraph with a thesis statement, have at least three body
paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph
Use at least two quotes from the play to support your argument (including a parenthetical
citation after the quote)
Include a Works Cited page
1. Is Macbeth a heroic figure? If he has redeeming qualities, what are they and where do we see
them? If he is beyond being deemed a hero, why? How does he fail to achieve heroic status?
2. Explore the character of Lady Macbeth. How is she a model woman? How is she a failure to
be a good woman? Does she have any heroic or redeeming qualities? What are her failures and
what are her successes? What does her ultimate fate say about her?
3. What is the role of fate in this play? Is Macbeth a helpless victim of his fate? Is he
completely in control, and therefore responsible for, his actions? How do the witches and the
apparent supernatural forces of evil factor into either fate or free will?
4. How do the disturbances to nature and to human nature reflect the disturbances to the moral
order of the play? Examine the references to supernatural events alongside the ways the
Macbeths become "sub-human" (loss of sleep, giving up of reason, etc.).
Facebook News Feed Summary of Macbeth
Directions: Read the following Facebook News Feed Edition of Hamlet written by Sarah
Schmelling (yes, that is her real name) and found at (so you know, this is
a clever and quite funny website). Then, in a group of no more than four, come up with your
own Facebook News Feed Summary of Macbeth.
---Horatio thinks he saw a ghost.
Hamlet thinks it's annoying when your uncle marries your mother right after your dad dies.
The king thinks Hamlet's annoying.
Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.
Hamlet's father is now a zombie.
---The king poked the queen.
The queen poked the king back.
Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends.
Marcellus is pretty sure something's rotten around here.
Hamlet became a fan of daggers.
---Polonius says Hamlet's crazy ... crazy in love!
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Hamlet are now friends.
Hamlet wonders if he should continue to exist. Or not.
Hamlet thinks Ophelia might be happier in a convent.
Ophelia removed "moody princes" from her interests.
Hamlet posted an event: A Play That's Totally Fictional and In No Way About My Family
The king commented on Hamlet's play: "What is wrong with you?"
Polonius thinks this curtain looks like a good thing to hide behind.
Polonius is no longer online.
---Hamlet added England to the Places I've Been application.
The queen is worried about Ophelia.
Ophelia loves flowers. Flowers flowers flowers flowers flowers. Oh, look, a river.
Ophelia joined the group Maidens Who Don't Float.
Laertes wonders what the hell happened while he was gone.
---The king sent Hamlet a goblet of wine.
The queen likes wine!
The king likes ... oh crap.
The queen, the king, Laertes, and Hamlet are now zombies.
Horatio says well that was tragic.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, says yes, tragic. We'll take it from here.
Denmark is now Norwegian.
Shakespeare Insult Kit
Combine one word from each of the three columns below, prefaced with "Thou":
Column 1
Column 2
Column 3
Speech on Shakespearean Quote- worth ____ points
Directions: I am going to provide you with the first line of a famous Shakespearean quote. You
should then find this line and the rest of the speech that goes with it (which should be approximately
five to fifteen more lines). This is your responsibility for your speech:
A. State the play from which you are about to perform, the character you are playing, and
the context of the quote. (Hint: This will be on the sheet you will be given written directly
after your quote.)
B. Act out the lines from Shakespeare. You should state the lines with appropriate
enthusiasm. For example, if a person is angry in the lines, act angry. If a person is sad, act
sad. (Note: If you wish to earn an A or B, you must memorize the lines. For extra credit
you may bring in appropriate props.)
C. Explain the lines you acted out so a teenager can understand them. (Note: You can
choose to do a “slang” translation of your lines or just summarize them.)
To be or not to be,--that is the question...
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…
All the world's a stage...
What a piece of work is man!
Friends, Romans, countrymen...
Give me my robe, put on my crown
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me
But, soft! What light through yonder window...
We are such stuff... As dreams are made on
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
The quality of mercy is not strain'd
Why, then the world's mine oyster
If music be the food of love, play on
Come, let's away to prison; We two alone will sing
Journeys end in lovers meeting
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look
To sleep, perchance to dream
I am constant as the northern star
Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
He hath given his empire
By the pricking of my thumbs
I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano
Eye of newt, and toe of frog
O, beware, my lord of jealousy
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne
Cowards die many times before their deaths
When beggars die there are no comets seen
The man that hath no music in himself
Think you I am no stronger than my sex
Be not afraid of greatness
Why, that's my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee
And thus I clothe my naked villany
When shall we three meet again
Blow, blow, thou winter wind
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua
He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf
All the infections that the sun sucks up
Let every eye negotiate for itself
I have no other but a woman's reason
O, how this spring of love resembleth
Is whispering nothing?
Here's ado to lock up honesty
What's gone and what's past help
When you do dance, I wish you
Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie
I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you
Now go we in content
We that are true lovers run into
SPOILER ALERT: Notes on Macbeth
Type of Work
.......Macbeth is a stage play in the form of a tragedy. It is one of several Shakespeare plays in which the protagonist
commits murder. Other such plays are Richard III, Othello, and Julius Caesar (Brutus). Macbeth is the shortest of
Shakespeare's tragedies. It has no subplots. (The shortest of all Shakespeare plays is The Comedy of Errors.)
Key Dates
Date Written: Probably by 1605 but no later than 1607.
First Performance of Play: Probably between 1605 and 1607 at the Globe Theatre.
Publication: 1623 as part of the First Folio, the first authorized collection of Shakespeare's play.
.......Shakespeare based Macbeth primarily on accounts in The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland
(Holinshed’s Chronicles), by Raphael Holinshed (?-1580?), who began work on this history under the royal printer
Reginald Wolfe. The first edition of the chronicles was published in 1577 in two volumes. Shakespeare may also
have used Declaration of Egregious Popishe Impostures (1603), by Samuel Harsnett; Rerum Scoticarum Historia
(1582), by George Buchanan; and published reports of witch trials in Scotland.
.......Macbeth takes place in northern Scotland and in England. The scenes in Scotland are set at or near King
Duncan’s castle at Forres, at Macbeth’s castle on Dunsinane Hill in the county of Inverness, and in countryside
locales where three witches meet. A scene is also set at a castle in England.
Protagonist: Macbeth
Antagonists: Psychological and Supernatural Forces, Including the Witches and the Three Apparitions
Foils of Macbeth: Banquo, Macduff, Malcolm, Lady Macbeth
Macbeth: Ambitious army general in Scotland. His hunger for kingly power, fed by a prophecy of three witches,
causes him to murder the rightful king, Duncan I of Scotland, and take his place. Macbeth presents a problem for the
audience in that he evokes both sympathy and condemnation; he is both hero, in a manner of speaking, and villain.
Lady Macbeth: Wife of Macbeth, who abets his murder. Her grandfather was a Scottish king who was killed in
defense of his throne against the king who immediately preceded King Duncan I. On the surface, she appears
ruthless and hardened, but her participation in the murder of Duncan gnaws at her conscience and she goes insane,
imagining that she sees the blood of Duncan on her hands.
Duncan I: King of Scotland.
Malcolm, Donalbain: Sons of King Duncan. Malcolm, the older son, is the Prince of Cumberland. He becomes
King of Scotland (as Malcom III) at the end of the play.
Banquo: Army general murdered on Macbeth's orders to prevent Banquo from begetting a line of kings, as
predicted by the three witches whom Macbeth and Banquo encounter on a heath. Banquo’s ghost later appears to
Three Witches: Hags who predict Macbeth will become king. Shakespeare refers to the three witches as the weird
sisters. Weird is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word wyrd, meaning fate. Thus, the witches appear to represent fate,
a force that predetermines destiny. The Greek poet Hesiod (eighth century BC) was the first writer to represent fate
as three old women. These three hags were actually goddesses. Clotho was in charge of weaving the fabric of a
person's life. Lachesis determined a person's life span and destiny. Atropos cut the threads of the fabric of life when
it was time for a person to die. No one—not even the mightiest god—could change the decisions of the Fates.
Collectively, the Greeks called them Moirae. Latin speakers referred to them as Parcae. The given name Moira
means fate.
Hecate, Witch 4: Mistress of the witches' charms and queen of Hades. She is the fourth witch in the play (or the
fifth for those who believe Lady Macbeth, in view of her invocations of evil, is a witch.)
Macduff: Scottish nobleman and lord of Fife who is known for his wisdom and integrity. He becomes Macbeth's
enemy. He and Macbeth cross swords at the end of the play.
Lady Macduff: Wife of Macduff. She is murdered on Macbeth’s orders.
Son of Macduff: One of the Macduff children who are murdered on Macbeth’s orders.
Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness: Scottish noblemen
Fleance: Son of Banquo.
Siward: Earl of Northumberland, general of the English forces.
Young Siward: Son of Siward.
Seyton: Officer attending Macbeth.
Sweno: King of Norway during the war against Scotland. Sweno, referred to in Act I, Scene II, has no speaking part
in the play.
English Doctor: He treats the King of England (who does not appear in the play) for an illness while Macduff and
Malcolm are at the king’s palace planning the overthrow of Macbeth.
Scottish Doctor: Doctor who attends Lady Macbeth during her descent into madness.
Old Man
Gentlewoman: Lady Macbeth's attendant.
First Apparition: : A head with arms. This apparition, conjured by the witches, warns Macbeth to beware of
Second Apparition: : A bloody child. This apparition, conjured by the witches, tells Macbeth that no one born of
woman can kill him.
Third Apparition: : A crowned child holding a tree. This apparition, conjured by the witches, tells Macbeth that no
one can defeat him until a forest, Birnham Wood, marches against him. Macbeth is heartened, believing it is
impossible for a forest to march.
Sinel: Macbeth's deceased father. Macbeth refers to him when he says, "By Sinel's death I know I am Thane of
Glamis" (1.3.75).
Minor Characters: Lords, gentlemen, officers, soldiers, murderers, attendants, and messengers.
Plot Summary
Based on the Oxford Shakespeare
By Michael J. Cummings © 2003, 2008
.......In a desert place during a thunderstorm, three witches conclude a meeting. They decide to convene next on a
heath to confront the great Scottish general Macbeth on his return from a war between Scotland and Norway. As
they depart, they recite a paradox that foreshadows events in the play: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.14). In
other words, what is perceived as good will be bad; what is perceived as bad will be good.
.......While camped near his castle at Forres in the Moray province of northeastern Scotland, the Scottish king,
Duncan, receives news of the fighting from a wounded sergeant: Macbeth has defeated and beheaded a turncoat
rebel leader named Macdonwald and “fix’d his head upon our battlements” (1.2.27). When the Norwegians
launched a new assault, the sergeant says, Macbeth and another general, Banquo, set upon their foes like lions upon
hares. Ross, a Scottish lord, then arrives to report the coup de grâce: Duncan’s forces have vanquished the
Norwegians and a Scottish defector, the thane (lord) of Cawdor1. The Scots extracted a tribute of ten thousand
dollars from the Norwegian king, Sweno, who is begging terms of peace. After ordering Cawdor’s execution,
Duncan decides to confer the title of the disloyal Cawdor on the heroic Macbeth.
.......Meanwhile, on their way to the king’s castle, Macbeth and Banquo happen upon the three witches, now
reconvened in the heath, while thunder cracks and rumbles. The First Witch addresses Macbeth as Thane of
Glamis2, a title Macbeth inherited from his father, Sinel. When the Second Witch addresses him as Thane of
Cawdor, Macbeth is dumbfounded. (He has not yet received news that the king has bestowed on him the title of the
traitorous Cawdor.) The Third Witch then predicts that Macbeth will one day become king and that Banquo will
beget a line of kings, although he himself will not ascend the throne. Macbeth commands the witches to explain their
prophecies, but they vanish. Shortly thereafter, other Scottish soldiers—Ross and Angus—catch up with Macbeth
and Banquo to deliver a message from the king: He is greatly pleased with Macbeth’s battlefield valor and, says
Ross, “He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor” (1.3.112). The almost immediate fulfillment of the
Second Witch’s prophecy makes Macbeth yearn for the fulfillment of the Third Witch’s prophecy, that he will
become king. He begins to think about murdering Duncan even though the prospect of committing such a deed
“doth unfix my hair / And make my seated heart knock at my ribs” (1.3.147-148).
Forres Castle
.......Forres is in northeastern Scotland. After William I became King of Scotland in 1165, the castle at Forres served
as a sort of hunting lodge for royalty. The real-life Macbeth and Duncan were among those said to have used the
castle. Nearby is a curious tourist attraction, the Witches’ Stone, where accused witches were burned.
.......After Macbeth presents himself before Duncan, the king heaps praises on the general for his battlefield prowess
and announces that he will visit Macbeth at his castle at Inverness. Macbeth is in his glory, but his jubilation is
tempered by the fact that the king’s son—Malcolm, Prince of Cumberland—is heir to the Scottish throne. In a
whisper, he says to himself:
.......The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
.......On which I must fall down or else o’erleap,
.......For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires,
.......Let not light see my black and deep desires. (1.4.58-61)
Thus his appetite is further whetted for murder. Bursting with pride and ambition, Macbeth sends a letter home to
his wife, Lady Macbeth, informing her of the prediction of the witches, who “have more in them than mortal
knowledge” (1. 5. 3), that he will one day become king. Lady Macbeth immediately wonders why he should wait for
that “one day.” He could murder Duncan and gain the throne now. But she fears he lacks what it takes to do the
deed. She says that his nature “is too full ‘o the milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way [murder]. . .”
(1.5.6-7). A messenger arrives to tell Lady Macbeth that King Duncan will visit her and Macbeth that very night.
Excited by the prospect of the king’s visit—and the murderous reception he will receive—Lady Macbeth recites
some of the most chilling and cold-hearted lines in all of Shakespeare:
........A messenger arrives to tell Lady Macbeth that King Duncan will visit her and Macbeth that very night. Excited
by the prospect of the king’s visit—and his death—Lady Macbeth recites some of the most chilling and cold-hearted
lines in all of Shakespeare:
............................The raven himself is hoarse
..............That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
..............Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
..............That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
..............And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
..............Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
..............Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
..............That no compunctious visitings of nature
..............Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
..............The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
..............And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
..............Wherever in your sightless substances
..............You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
..............And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
..............That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
..............Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!' (1.5.31-46)
.......When Macbeth arrives home, he and his wife read murder in each other’s eyes. In anticipation of Duncan’s
visit, she tells her husband to
.............. look like the innocent flower,
..............But be the serpent under ’t. He that’s coming
..............Must be provided for; and you shall put
..............This night’s great business into my dispatch. (1.5.63)
.......After Duncan arrives at Macbeth's castle with his sons and his entourage, Lady Macbeth greets the king while
Macbeth broods elsewhere in the castle. He is having second thoughts about the murder plot. After the feast begins,
Macbeth enters the dining hall, still ruminating about his sinister plans. To kill a king is a terrible thing. His wife,
who has been looking for him, follows not far behind him. Macbeth speaks his mind to her:
..............We will proceed no further in this business
..............He [Duncan] hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
..............Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
..............Which would be worn now in their newest gloss
..............Not cast aside so soon. (1.7.36-40)
.......But Lady Macbeth holds him to his vow to kill Duncan, telling him that
....... I have given suck, and know
.......How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me:
.......I would, while it was smiling in my face,
.......Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
.......And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
.......Have done to this.” (1.7.62-67)
.......Macbeth, swayed, asks her: “If we should fail—?” (1.7.68) She answers, “But screw your courage to the
sticking-place, / And we’ll not fail” (1.7.70-71). She then lays out the plan. While the king sleeps, she will ply his
guards with “wine and wassail"3 (1.7.74), enough to make them fall into deep repose. Macbeth will then kill the
king with the guards’ daggers and stain their clothing with blood to cast suspicion on them.
.......After midnight, while King Duncan sleeps, Lady Macbeth gives the guards a nightcap of milk and ale (called a
posset) spiked with a drug. She then rings a bell signaling Macbeth that all is ready. Before going into the king’s
chamber, Macbeth hallucinates, seeing a dagger in mid-air that leads him to the king’s bedside. After committing the
murder, he tells Lady Macbeth that he thought he heard a voice saying, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder
sleep” (2. 2. 46-47) and that he “shall sleep no more” (2.2.47). Lady Macbeth attempts to hearten him, telling him
not to dwell on “brainsickly” things (2.2.58). When she notices that Macbeth is still carrying the bloodied daggers,
she tells him to return them to the king’s chamber and plant them on the guards as they had planned. But Macbeth,
guilt-stricken, cannot bring himself to return to the room. Lady Macbeth, still bold with resolve, scolds him, then
plants the daggers herself, smearing blood on the guards.
.......Early in the morning, two noblemen, Macduff and Lennox, call at the castle to visit Duncan. “O horror, horror,
horror!” (2.3.42), Madcuff exclaims upon entering Duncan’s chamber and discovering the body. Macbeth and
Lennox, standing outside, ask what the matter is. Macduff says,
..............Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
..............With a new Gorgon4. Do not bid me speak.
..............See, and then speak yourselves. (2.3.51-53)
.......Macduff then awakens everyone, shouting, “Murder and treason!” (2.3.55). Before anyone can investigate,
Macbeth kills the guards, claiming their bloodied daggers are proof that they committed the foul deed. Duncan’s
sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, do not for a moment believe Macbeth. However, fearing for their own lives, they
flee Scotland—Malcolm for England and Donalbain for Ireland. Because their hasty departure makes them appear
guilty—Macduff speculates that they may have bribed the guards to kill Duncan—the crown passes to the nearest
eligible kin, Macbeth. Duncan’s body is removed to Colmekill, a burial place for the kings of Scotland.
.......But now that he is king, Macbeth cannot rest easy. He remembers too well the prophecy of the witches that
Banquo will father a kingly line. So Macbeth sends two hired assassins to murder Banquo and his son Fleance as
they travel to Macbeth’s castle (now the royal palace at Forres) for dinner. Ambushing their prey, the assassins slay
Banquo “with twenty trenched gashes on his head” (3.4.32), the First Murderer tells Macbeth. But Fleance escapes.
.......Just as the dinner begins, one of the assassins reports the news to Macbeth. When Macbeth sits down to eat, the
bloodied ghost of Banquo appears to him but to no one else. Macbeth begins to act and speak strangely, and one
guest, Ross, says, “Gentlemen, rise: his highness is not well” (3.4.64). But Lady Macbeth entreats the guests to
remain in their seats, for “my lord is often thus, / And hath been from his youth. . . .The fit is momentary; upon a
thought / He will again be well. . .” (3.4.65-68). After the ghost vanishes, Macbeth regains himself and tells his
guests that he has a strange infirmity “which is nothing / To those that know me” (3.4.103-104). The ghost then
reappears and Macbeth shouts,
..............Avaunt5! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
..............Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
..............Thou hast no speculation6 in those eyes
..............Which thou dost glare with! (3.4.112-115)
.......When Ross questions Macbeth about what he has seen, Lady Macbeth says the king’s fit has grown worse, and
she sends the guests away. Later, preoccupied with the fear of being discovered, Macbeth begins to suspect that
Macduff, who refused to attend the feast, is onto him.
.......When Macbeth meets with the witches again—this time in a cavern—they conjure an apparition of an armed
head that tells him he has good reason to fear Macduff. But they also ease his fears when they conjure a second
apparition, that of a bloody child, which tells him that no one born of woman can harm him. A third apparition, that
of a crowned child holding a tree, tells him that no one can conquer him until Birnham Wood comes to Dunsinane.
.......After the meeting, Macbeth learns that Macduff is urging Duncan's son, Malcolm, to reclaim the throne. In
revenge, Macbeth has Macduff's wife and son murdered. When Macduff hears the terrible news, he organizes an
army to bring down Macbeth.
.......Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth's conscience—long absent earlier—now begins to torture her. She talks to herself
and hallucinates, imagining that her hands are covered with blood. After the forces of Malcolm and Macduff arrive
at Birnham Wood and advance on Macbeth’s castle, Macbeth prepares for battle just as Lady Macbeth's battle with
her conscience ends in her suicide.
.......As they advance, the invaders cut branches of trees to hold in front of them as camouflage. Birnham Wood is
coming to Dunsinane—a hill near the castle—just as the witches predicted. Finally, Macbeth meets Macduff in
hand-to-hand combat, bragging that he will win the day because (according to the apparition of the bloody child) no
man born of a woman can harm him. However, Macduff reveals that he was not of woman born but was “untimely
ripp’d” (5.7.62) from his mother’s womb (in a cesarean birth). Macduff then kills Macbeth, and Malcolm becomes
.......Overweening ambition, or inordinate lust for power, ultimately brings ruin. For ignoring this ancient rule of
living, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth pay with their lives.
.......In Macbeth, evil frequently wears a pretty cloak. Early in the play, the three witches declare that “fair is foul,” a
paradox suggesting that whatever appears good is really bad. For example, murdering Duncan appears to be a “fair”
idea to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, for Macbeth would accede to the throne. But the Macbeths soon discover that
only bad has come of their deed, and their very lives—and immortal souls—are in jeopardy. Macbeth also perceives
the prophecies made by the “armed head” and the “bloody child” as good omens; in fact, these prophecies are
deceptive wordplays that foretell Macbeth’s downfall. In a further exposition of the theme of deceptive appearances,
King Duncan speaks the following lines when arriving at Macbeth’s castle: “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air /
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / Unto our gentle senses” (1. 6.3-5).
.......Other quotations that buttress this theme are the following:
Look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under ’t. (1.5.63-64)
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know. (1.7.94-95)
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. (2.3.135-136)
.......Temptation can defeat even the strongest human beings. On the battlefield, Macbeth is a lion and a leader of
men. But when the witches tempt him by prophesying that he will become king of Scotland, he succumbs to the lure
of power. When his resolve weakens, Lady Macbeth fortifies it with strong words.
.......Guilt haunts the evildoer. Whether from prick of conscience or fear of discovery, Macbeth’s guilt begins to
manifest itself immediately after he murders Duncan and the guards (Act II, Scene II). “This is a sorry sight”
(2.2.29), he tells Lady Macbeth, looking at the blood on his hands. When he speaks further of the guilt he feels,
Lady Macbeth—foreshadowing her descent into insanity—says, “These deeds must not be thought / After these
ways; so, it will make us mad” (2.2.44-45). Macbeth then says he thought he heard a voice saying, “Sleep no more! /
Macbeth does murder sleep” (2.2.46-47). When they hear knocking moments later at the castle door, it is the sound
of their guilt as much as the sound of the knocker, Macduff..
.......The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning
point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a
series of events. The climax of Macbeth occurs, according to the first definition, when Macbeth murders Duncan
and becomes king. According to the second definition, the climax occurs in the final act when Macduff corners and
kills Macbeth.
.......Shakespeare casts a pall of darkness over the play to call attention to the evil deeds unfolding and the foul
atmosphere in which they are taking place. At the very beginning of the play, Shakespeare introduces an image of
dark clouds suggested in the words spoken by the First Witch:
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain? (1.1.3-4)
Near the end of the third scene in Act I, Banquo foreshadows the terrible events to come with an allusion to the
witches as “instruments of darkness” that sometimes speak the truth in order to bring their listeners to ruin. Banquo
says that
[O]ftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s [betray us]
In deepest consequence. (1.3.133-137)
Lady Macbeth later entreats blackest night to cloak her when she takes part in the murder of Duncan, saying:
Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark. (1.5.43-46)
Late at night in Inverness Castle, after King Duncan goes to bed and the Macbeths make final plans for his murder,
Banquo and Fleance meet in a courtyard within the castle walls while a servant holds a torch. Their conversation
centers on the blackness of the night and on sleep:
BANQUO How goes the night, boy?
FLEANCE The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.
BANQUO And she goes down at twelve.
FLEANCE I take’t, ’tis later, sir.
BANQUO Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers,
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
Gives way to in repose! (2.1.3-12
.......In his analysis of the images of darkness in Macbeth, Shakespearean scholar A.C. Bradley writes:
It is remarkable that almost all the scenes which at once recur to memory take place either at night or in
some dark spot. The vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, the sleep-walking
of Lady Macbeth, all come in night-scenes. The witches dance in the thick air of a storm, or, 'black and
midnight hags' receive Macbeth in a cavern. The blackness of night [makes] the hero a thing of fear, even
of horror; and that which he feels becomes the spirit of the play."—Quoted in Eastman, A.M., and G.B.
Harrison, eds. Shakespeare's Critics: From Jonson to Auden. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan, 1964
(pages 238-239)
.......Shakespeare frequently presents images of blood in Macbeth. Sometimes it is the hot blood of the Macbeths as
they plot murder; sometimes it is the spilled, innocent blood of their victims. It is also blood of guilt that does not
wash away and the blood of kinship that drives enemies of Macbeth to action. In general, the images of blood—like
the images of darkness—bathe the play in a macabre, netherworldly atmosphere. Here are examples from the play:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood. (Lady Macbeth: 1.5.48-51)
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
.............................[ellipsis of seven lines]
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes (Speaker, Macbeth: 2.1.44-46, 57-60)
MACBETH...Will all great Neptune's7 ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine8,
Making the green one red.
LADY MACBETH...My hands are of your colour; but I shame
To wear a heart so white. (2.2.75-80)
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
The nearer bloody. (Donalbain: 2.3.137-140)
In their analysis of the images of blood and darkness in Macbeth, Shakespearean scholars K.L. Knickerbock and H.
Willard Reninger write:
The very title of Macbeth conjures up the dense, suffocating metaphoric climate of primeval evil, darkness,
blood, violated sleep, and nature poisoned at its source."—Interpreting Literature. 4th ed. New York: Holt,
1969 (page 854).
Adam and Eve
.......Critic Maynard Mack and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud both noticed that Lady Macbeth resembles Eve in her
eagerness to tempt Macbeth to eat of forbidden fruit (in this case, murder) and that Macbeth resembles Adam in his
early passivity. Supporting their views are these two passages in Act 1, Scene VII, in which Lady Macbeth goads
her wavering husband:
First Passage: Lady Macbeth tells her husband it is cowardly to hesitate like a scared cat.
Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
Like the poor cat i' the adage? (1.7.45-51)
Second Passage: Lady Macbeth challenges her husband to be a man.
What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this. (1.7 55-67)
.......Raging ambition drives Macbeth to murder. After the witches play to his ambition with a prophecy that he will
become king, he cannot keep this desire under control. He realizes that Duncan is a good king—humble, noble,
virtuous. But he rationalizes that a terrible evil grips him that he cannot overcome.
I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other. (1.7.27-30)
Examples of Figures of Speech
Following are examples of figures of speech in the play. For definitions of figures of speech, see
Literary Terms.
That will be ere the set of sun. (1.1.7)
the Norways’ king, craves composition;
Nor would we deign him burial of his men. (1.2.72-73)
False face must hide what the false heart doth know. (1.7.95)
’Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. (3.2.10-11).
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble. (4.1.12-13)
When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won. (1.1.5-6)
FIRST WITCH All hail, Macbeth!hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
SECOND WITCH All hail, Macbeth!hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. (5.1.55)
Irony, Dramatic
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses. (1.6.1)
Duncan is unaware of what the audience knows: that death, not a pleasant sojourn, awaits him in the castle.
If I say sooth, I must report they were
As cannons overcharg’d with double cracks. (1.2.42-43)
Comparison of Macbeth and Banquo to cannons
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid. (1.3.21-22)
Comparison of sleep to a hanging object
[We must] make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are. (3.2.40-41)
Macbeth compares his and Lady Macbeth's faces to the visors (vizards) on the helmet of a suit of armor
Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day. (3.2.54-55)
Macbeth compares night to a falconer who sews together (seels) the eyes of a young hawk.
He also compares the sun to an eye.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow[?] (5.3.50-51)
While speaking with the doctor, Macbeth compares Lady Macbeth's mental illness to a rooted plant.
Metaphor and Personification
Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand. (2.2.58-59)
Comparison of blood (implied) to a person (witness)
Treason has done his worst. (3.2.29)
Comparison of treason to a person
Fair is foul, and foul is fair. (1.1.13)
What! can the devil speak true? (1.3.107)
Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it. . . . (1.4.10-11)
The Real Macbeth
.......Macbeth was an eleventh-century Scot who took the throne in 1040 after killing King Duncan I, his cousin, in a
battle near Elgin in the Moray district of Scotland. Of his reign, Fitzroy MacLean has written the following:
"Macbeth appears, contrary to popular belief, to have been a wise monarch and to have ruled Scotland successfully
and well for seventeen prosperous years. In 1050 we hear that he went on a pilgrimage to Rome and there [lavished
money to the poor]." (Work cited: MacLean, Fitzroy. A Concise History of Scotland. New York: Beekman House,
1970, Page 23.) In 1057, Duncan's oldest son, Malcolm, ended Macbeth's reign by killing him in battle and later
assuming the throne as Malcolm III.
The Real Banquo
.......In Holinshed's Chronicles, the historical work on which Shakespeare based his play, the real Banquo is depicted
as a conniver who took part in the plot to assassinate King Duncan. Why did Shakespeare portray Banquo as one of
Macbeth's innocent victims? Perhaps because James I, the King of England when the play debuted, was a
descendant of Banquo. It would not do to suggest that His Royal Majesty's ancestor was a murderer.
Influence of Seneca
.......The Roman dramatist Seneca (AD 4-65), a tutor to Emperor Nero, wrote plays that described in elaborate detail
the grisly horror of murder and revenge. After Elizabethans began translating Seneca's works in 1559, writers read
and relished them, then wrote plays imitating them. Shakespeare appears to have seasoned Macbeth and an earlier
play, Titus Andronicus, with some of Seneca's ghoulish condiments.
Witchcraft in Shakespeare's Time
.......In Shakespeare's time, many people believed in the power of witches. One was King James I. In 1591, when he
was King of Scotland during the reign of Elizabeth I, a
group of witches and sorcerers attempted to murder him. Their trial and testimony convinced him that they were
agents of evil. Thereafter, he studied the occult and wrote a book called Daemonologie (Demonology), published in
1597. This book—and an earlier one called Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches' Hammer, 1486), describing
the demonic rites of witches—helped inflame people against practitioners of sorcery.
.......Shakespeare, good businessman that he was, well knew that a play featuring witches would attract theatergoers
and put a jingle in his pocket. Moreover, such a play would ingratiate him with James, who became King of England
in 1603. So, about two years after James acceded to the English throne, Shakespeare began working on Macbeth.
When it was first performed in about 1605, it probably frightened audiences in the same way that The Exorcist, the
1973 film about diabolical possession, scared American audiences. Magically, this play about murder and witches
swelled Shakespeare's bank account and reputation. Shakespeare himself, a man of extraordinary intellect and
insight, probably regarded witchcraft for what it was: poppycock.
.......Four named witches appear in Macbeth—the three hags who open the play and later Hecate, the goddess of
sorcery. But is there a fifth witch, Lady Macbeth? In fact, she invokes spirits to “unsex” (1.5.34) her and bids “thick
night” (1.5.43) to dress “in the dunnest smoke of hell” (1.5.44) so that she may assist her husband in the murder of
King Duncan.
Questions and Essay Topics
Murdering a king was considered an especially heinous crime in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot in
England in November 1605. What was the Gunpowder Plot?
Did Shakespeare intend the witches to be symbols of something everyone faces—temptation?
The word fear occurs 48 times in Macbeth in noun and verb forms and as a root in words such as afeard
and fearful. Which characters exhibit the most fear? What causes their fear? How does fear differ from
Julius Caesar, the title character of a Shakespeare play set in ancient Rome, was also a military commander,
like Macbeth, who was consumed by ambition and died because of it. What other great leaders in history or
fiction fell to ruin, or death, because of their ambition?
Lady Macbeth repeatedly washes her hands to expiate her guilt. In modern psychology, what is the term
used to describe Lady Macbeth's disorder? If you were a psychologist—or a priest—what would you advise
Lady Macbeth to do to unburden her conscience?
Read the information under Theme 2 (above). Then write an essay about persons, places, things or ideas
that appear "fair" when they are really "foul"—or appear "foul" when they are really "fair."
Lady Macbeth advises her husband to “Look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under it” (Act I,
Scene V, Lines 66-67). Write an essay about things in the modern world that present themselves as
"innocent flowers" even though they are really "serpents."
Fascinating Fact
.......The words blood and night (or forms of them, such as bloody and tonight) occur more than 40 times each in
Macbeth. Other commonly occurring words that help maintain the mood of the play are terrible, horrible, black,
devil, and evil.
What Was a Castle?
.......Many of the scenes in Macbeth are set in a castle. A castle was a walled fortress of a king or lord. The word
castle is derived from the Latin castellum, meaning a fortified place. Generally, a castle was situated on an
eminence (a piece of high ground) that had formed naturally or was constructed by laborers. High ground
constructed by laborers was called a motte (French for mound); the motte may have been 100 to 200 feet wide and
40 to 80 feet high. The area inside the castle wall was called the bailey.
.......Some castles had several walls, with smaller circles within a larger circle or smaller squares within a larger
square. The outer wall of a castle was usually topped with a battlement, a protective barrier with spaced openings
through which defenders could shoot arrows at attackers. This wall sometimes was surrounded by a water-filled
ditch called a moat, a defensive barrier to prevent the advance of soldiers, horses and war machines. At the main
entrance was a drawbridge, which could be raised to prevent entry. Behind the drawbridge was a portcullis [port
KUL is], or iron gate, which could be lowered to further secure the castle. Within the castle was a tower, or keep, to
which castle residents could withdraw if an enemy breached the portcullis and other defenses. Over the entrance of
many castles was a projecting gallery with machicolations [muh CHIK uh LAY shuns], openings in the floor
through which defenders could drop hot liquids or stones on attackers. In the living quarters of a castle, the king and
his family dined in a great hall on an elevated platform called a dais [DAY is], and they slept in a chamber called a
solar. The age of castles ended after the development of gunpowder and artillery fire enabled armies to breach thick
castle walls instead of climbing over them.
Glossary of Animals and Animal Parts in Witches' Brew (Act IV, Scene I)
Adder’s Fork: Forked tongue of an adder, a poisonous snake.
Baboon’s Blood: Blood of a fierce monkey (genus, Papio) with long teeth.
Blindworm: Legless lizard common in Great Britain. When fully grown, it is usually about a foot long.
Eye of Newt: Eye of a type of salamander (an amphibian with a tail) that spends part of its time in the water and part
of its time on land. The young newt (larval stage) is called an eft. It is bright red with black spots. The adult newt is
generally olive green with red spots circumscribed with black spots. In mythological tales, the salamander was a
creature that was said to be able to live in fire.
Fillet of Fenny: Slice of a snake that inhabits fens (swamps, bogs).
Gall of Goat: Gallbladder of a goat.
Lizard: Reptile with four legs. Examples are the iguana, the chameleon, and the gecko.
Maw and Gulf of Ravined Salt-Sea Shark: Stomach of a hungry (ravined) shark.
Owlet’s Wing: Wing of a baby owl.
Scale of Dragon: Scales (overlapping plates covering the body) of a dragon, a mythological flying reptile of gigantic
Tiger’s Chaudron: Tiger’s intestines or guts.
Toad: Hopping amphibian, resembling a frog, with short legs and rough skin. Unlike a frog, which has moist skin, a
toad has dry skin.
Toe of Frog: Toe of an amphibian with webbed feet and strong hind legs for leaping. Unlike a toad, a frog has moist
Tooth of Wolf: Fang of a wolf, a canine that lives in the wilds.
Wool of Bat: Fur or hair of a bat, the world’s only flying mammal. A bat can weigh up to three pounds and fly at
speeds up to 60 miles an hour. Although literature often portrays bats as sinister, evil creatures, they are beneficial to
humankind because their insect diet eliminates many annoying—and dangerous—pests.
1. Cawdor: Village in the Highlands of Scotland, near Inverness.
2. Glamis: Village in the Tayside region of Scotland.
3. Wassail: Spiced ale.
4. Gorgon: Snake-headed monster in Greek mythology. Looking upon it turned the viewer to stone.
5. Avaunt: Go away; begone; get out of here.
6. Speculation: Ability to see.
7. Neptune: Roman name for the Greek sea god, Poseidon.
8. Incarnadine: Verb meaning to make something blood red.
(Source of Notes on Macbeth:

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