Second Quarter Research Project Eng II Honors N. Huval Spring


The Shakespearean Comedy

Second Quarter Research Project

Eng II Honors N. Huval Spring 2015

You’ve covered Greek and Shakespearean tragedy – or you will have very shortly. Now I want you to go on a quest for knowledge about

Shakespeare’s comedies. Many people don’t even know they exist, but they are some of Shakespeare’s most delightful works. For this research project, you will choose one Shakespearean comedy to focus upon, while you learn about comedy as a dramatic art form, about the literary merits of the drama itself, and about Shakespeare’s blank verse as poetry. Finally, you will view the film version of the comedy you choose, and review it, paying special attention to the way in which the settings, costuming, camera angles, casting, etc. add to the telling of the story. There’s a list below of Shakespeare’s comedies from which you may choose. It’s not an exhaustive list of Shakespeare’s comedies because I only included those with movie versions I thought you’d be able to access easily. The reviews below are mostly from the New York

Times Movie Reviews

Your assignment:

To critically analyze the plot, characters, and theme of your chosen Shakespearean comedy, in print form and in its movie version and evaluate its use of the conventions of Shakespearean comedy.

What you will produce:

1 annotated scholarly article about Shakespearean comedy

2-3 annotated scholarly articles about your play

1 rough draft of film analysis: 2-3 paragraphs about your film

Thesis statement and rough outline with examples and quotes

1 works cited page

1 research paper 3-4 pages

20 points

40 points

30 points

30 points

20 points

75 points

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As You Like It

about Demetrius. Meanwhile, fairies living in the forest are

Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior (the banished duke), is raised at the court of Duke Frederick (who is younger brother to Duke Senior and took over his dukedom), with her cousin Celia (daughter to Duke Frederick). She falls in love with a young man named Orlando, but before she can even think twice about it, she is banished by Duke Frederick, who threatens death if she comes near the court again. Celia, being Rosalind's best friend, goes with Rosalind (who is disguised as a boy, Ganymede) and Touchstone, the court's fool, to the forest of Arden. Upon their arrival in the forest, they happen upon Orlando and his manservant, who are fleeing the wrath of Orlando's eldest brother. What follows is an elaborate scheme devised by the cross-dressing

Rosalind to find out the verity of Orlando's supposed passion for her, and to further capture his heart, through the witty and mischievous façade of Ganymede.

Movie Version I recommend: 2006 version directed by

Kenneth Branaugh, set in Japan OR 1936 Laurence

Olivier version

The Merchant of Venice

A young Venetian, Bassanio, needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He approaches his friend Antonio, a merchant.

Antonio is short of money because all his wealth is invested in his fleet, which is currently at sea. He goes to a Jewish money lender, Shylock, who hates Antonio because of

Antonio’s anti-semitic behaviour towards him. Shylock nevertheless agrees to make the short-term loan, but, in a moment of dark humour, he makes a condition - the loan must be repaid in three months or Shylock will exact a pound of flesh from Antonio.

Movie Version I recommend: 1970s version with Sir

Laurence Olivier ***NOTE 2004 Version with Al Pacino is rated R

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream moves the action to Tuscany near the turn of the 20th century, as both mortals and enchanted creatures deal with romantic problems. Among the flesh-and-blood crowd, Duke Theseus is preparing for his wedding to Hippolyta while having to counsel Egeus who has promised the hand of his daughter

Hermia to Demetrius Hermia, however, wants to elope with her true love, Lysander, while her best friend Helena is mad watching these romantic misadventures. Puck serves up love potions that mix and match the already confused lovers, while the Queen of Fairies, Titania and her King, Oberon have to deal with a group of hapless actors rehearsing a play in the forest -- one of whom, Bottom has fallen under Puck's spell and becomes Titania's new lover. Will anyone end up with the person they really love? Who will get hurt riding their bicycles in the woods? Will Helena sit down and eat a square meal?

Movie Version I recommend: 1999 version, directed by

Michael Hoffman and featuring Kevin Kline

Much Ado About Nothing

Don Pedro the Prince of Aragon, returns victorious from battle to the praises of the Governor of Messina, Leonato

One of Don Pedro's bravest men, Claudio falls in love with

Hero, Leonato's daughter, and they plan to marry. However,

Don Pedro's devious half-brother Don John opposes the match, and he devises a plan to turn Hero against Claudio.

Meanwhile, Benedict , Don Pedro's second-in-command, detests Leonato's niece Beatrice, but Don Pedro cleverly brings them together by making each think that the other is secretly in love with them.

Movie Version I recommend: 1993 Kenneth Branaugh version

The Taming of the Shrew

In the Italian city of Padua, a rich young man named

Lucentio arrives with his servants, Tranio and Biondello, to attend the local university. Lucentio is excited to begin his studies, but his priorities change when he sees Bianca, a beautiful, mild young woman with whom Lucentio instantly falls in love. There are two problems: first, Bianca already has two suitors, Gremio and Hortensio; second, Bianca’s father, a wealthy old man named Baptista Minola, has declared that no one may court Bianca until first her older sister, the vicious, ill-tempered Katherine, is married.

Movie Version I recommend: 1967 Franco Zeffirelli version

—CLASSIC w/Elizabeth Taylor and Richard


Shakespearean Comedy Research Project – How to begin!


First read the play or find a good summary. If you are a lover of Renaissance language and poetry, you’ll want to take a stab at reading the play, and I’m sure you can find a copy at the library or buy one inexpensively at 2nd and Charles or at Barnes and Noble. There are also digital versions on the internet you can access for free. However, I am really ok with your finding a good summary online.

Sparknotes features something cool called No Fear Shakespeare, which has the Shakespearean English alongside the modern translation. Sparknotes also has accurate and detailed plot summaries. Whether you choose to read the play or you choose to use a plot summary, this should be read by ________________________ . Once you ar e familiar with the plot, you’ll be ready to proceed to step 2.


Second, research Shakespearean comedies, and find some good information from a reliable source. I recommend the Gale Group databases. One of the databases contains literary criticism

. Here’s the link below. Remember that the password: lions. If this link doesn’t work for you, access the database through my teacher web page via the CHS website.

Literature Resource Center:

Here are some guidelines you can follow to judge the accuracy of the articles you find on Shakespearean comedy.

Generally, Shakespeare’s comedies are light-hearted and end happily. Not all comedies will have all these characteristics, but most will contain quite a few of these traits.

A struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty, often presented by elders

Separated lovers, usually by circumstances beyond their control (ultimately

Cases of mistaken identity and the use of disguises

Suggestive humor and lots of word play, especially puns which we might not get due the archaic language.

Ending-- on a happy note

– usually involving at least one wedding they’ll be reunited)

Disputes between characters, often within a family and often between generations

Multiple, intertwining plots

– usually these take us to different settings i.e. city vs. country

When you think you’ve found a good source, print it out in full, being sure to include the source citation, or the information you’ll need to create a works cited page. Then annotate the article by highlighting and margin noting the elements of the Shakespearean comedy that you found in your play.


Next, research some literary criticism of your play. Literary criticism is written by experts in the field of evaluating literature. Some critics are English professors while some are writers, historians, or academics from other disciplines. They will comment of the quality of the work in relation to Shakespeare’s other works, and also on various techniques Shakespeare uses, anything from figurative language to theme to characterization. These types of articles are easily found through the Literature Resource Center. See the link above. Once you’ve found an article which you can understand and that deals with the literary criticism of your play, print it out in full and annotate it by highlighting and margin noting. You should have one or two literary criticism articles.


Then next step is to watch your movie. As you watch it, think on these things…

Judge the story.

Are the character’s actions justified, and are their motives plausible? Is there an internal consistency to the way each person behaves, or do some words, thoughts, or actions ring false? Does the plot make sense? Is the story line logical? Is the narrative arc well shaped, with an economy of form, or is it flabby or drawn out, with time-killing pointlessness?

Rate the actors.

Do they meet the expectations dictated by the plot and other story elements? If not, is it their own thespian shortcomings, are they hampered by a poor script, or is there something about their performances that makes you believe the director is at fault?

What could the performers, the screenwriters, or the filmmaker have done differently to make the movie work better?

Evaluate the technical elements.

How do the cinematography, editing, lighting, costumes, and other components support or detract from the film? Is music appropriate and effectively employed? You needn’t know film-technology jargon to share your thoughts about how these elements contributed to or detracted from the whole.

A Key Moment or Idea

…Something important that interested you about the movie. Or one character who was really intriguing. Or another big moment from the movie and explain why it is important. If you think the "idea" behind a movie was really interesting, explain that idea and talk about it a little bit. In this paragraph, you must go into depth about the movie.

You should write a preliminary review of your movie which considers these factors and which discusses three or four of them in detail.

For example, you might discuss the story, focusing on the actions of the characters and the story line. Then comment on the music and costumes, and finally discuss your favorite big moment or interesting character. Your movie review should be 2-3 paragraphs.

Remember this can be vey rough, and will be revised and incorporated into you research paper.


NAM E_______________________________________________ DAT E____________________ SCORE ______________________

Shakespearean Comedy Research Project – Thesis and Rough Outline



First you’ll need a thesis: a concise statement of what you are setting out to prove in your paper. I know, easier said than done. Try this: Begin with the title of the play and its author, mention that it’s a comedy, and then try to sum up in several words or phrases what you’ve learned… Is it considered to be one of his finest works? What is its strength or its major weakness? Does it incorporate many aspects of the comedy

—or just a few? Once you’ve got a firm idea of what you’re proving in your paper, write you thesis here:



______________________________________________________________________ .

Remember, your thesis is the last thing in your introduction



You’ll need approximately 4 or 5 main body paragraphs to make a 3-4 page paper, so think about what you’ve learned and


3. decide how you want to divide up your body paragraphs.

You’ll need to mix your sources within your body paragraphs. Each one should pull information from at least two sources.


… don’t divide your paragraphs so that each one talks about one source. The idea is to integrate everything you’ve learned into one large argument.

What you ‘ve learned about your play will dictate what your body paragraphs might be about, but here are some ideas:

Brief summary

Analysis of main character(s) (maybe a strength or weakness noted in your literary criticism, how the character differed in

 the movie from what you thought he/she would be like)


– how it’s still relevant, what the underlying problems seem to be, or is it like a typical comedy?

Discussion of themes (maybe how they are typical of a comedy, or how men or women are portrayed, maybe something which struck you from your literary criticism)


– time and place (why the movie might differ from the play)

The use of costuming or disguise in storytelling

Key moment in the play, or key scene

– maybe the climactic moment, or one that is mentioned in the literary criticism article as unique or important

Symbols or other literary devices used

—irony, use of dreams

Think about the most logical way to arrange your paragraphs.

List your main ideas here:

Body 1: _________________________________________

Body 2: _________________________________________

Body 4 ___________________________________________

Body 5: ___________________________________________

Body 3: _________________________________________ Body 6: ___________________________________________


– examples, ideas, and quotes

Now, you must structure what you want to say within your body paragraphs.

Remember, you need to use 2 sources minimum in each body paragraph (except summary paragraph, if you have one), so go

 through your articles, summary, and notes about the movie and pull out examples that can prove your thesis to be true and which relate to you body paragraphs. You need a healthy mix of quotes and examples from the play and your articles.

Remember t o write down the page number of each example and quote, as you’ll need that to write your in-text citations.

Each body paragraph needs to have a topic sentence, a couple of well-explained examples and a quote or two which relate to your example.

The last sentence in your paragraph should wrap that paragraph up and lead into your next paragraph.

For each body paragraph make a brief outline on the back

—please attach additional pages if necessay. Include which article and page number each example/idea/ quote came from!

Use this format (roughly):

A. Topic Idea:

B. Idea/Example 1 (source p#):

C Support (source p#):

D. Idea/Example 2 (source p#):

E Support (source p#):

F. Quote: speaker ______________ (source p#):

G. Concl/Transition: