L22001: Introduction to Shakespeare

Summer (1) 2019 MTR 10-12.20 LA 116

Our course is aimed at the novice, the student who has little or no experience with Shakespeare on the page, in the theater, or at the cinema.  We'll study four plays, watching a film production of each. 

We'll have a take-home midterm and final, and make several short presentations on important passages in the texts to stimulate discussion. 


Arkangel Shakespeare (audio recordings of the plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company)

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (the folks in Stratford)

Folger Shakespeare Library (the finest American resource available for Shakespeare study)

British Library (finest UK resource for Shakespeare)

Historical Editions of Shakespeare (a fairly complete run of all texts from the early quartos to the end of the nineteenth century)

Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive (all the engravings from the great nineteenth-century editions)



English L22001: Introduction to Shakespeare

Summer (1) 2019 MW 10-12.20  LA 116

Office:  LA 105  Hours: please contact me

email: stapletm@pfw.edu   phone: 481.6841 (message)

webpage: www.elmlsteach.org


Greenblatt et al., eds., The Norton Shakespeare: Essential Plays. The Sonnets (vol. 3E)

Please note: this is the edition I'll be using, and some of the assigned reading for presentations is from this text. If you choose not to buy it, you are still responsible for the material. Perhaps a friendly classmate will help you out.  But you can't be lackadaisical here.  

Electronic Devices:

Yes, please. Feel free. I only ask that you use their magic powers for Good.  E. g.  don't use your phone as a textbook.

First Week

13 May (M): Introductions; Twelfth Night

14 May (T): Twelfth Night

16 May (R): Twelfth Night;  Natalie: 2.2.16-40 ("I left no ring");  Sarah: 3.1.1-48 (the Clown's lines)

Second Week

20 May (M): Twelfth Night; Jen: 3.4.60-75 ("Oh, ho, do you come near me now?"); James: 4.3 (How do the lines seem to illustrate the main motif of the play? "So full of shapes is fancy / That it alone is high fantastical?" [1.1.14-15]).

21 May (T): Henry V   Taralynn: What happens in Act 1 of the play?  Megan: What is the main point of Henry's longish speech in 2.2?      "The mercy that was quick in us but late, / By your own counsel is suppress'd and kill'd."

23 May (R): Henry V  Michael: "Once more unto the breach" (3.1).    Ryan: "How yet resolves the governor of the town?" (3.3)

Third Week

27 May (M): No class

28 May (T): Henry V; Nathaniel: "Upon the king!" (4.1.180-238); Erick: "If we are marked to die" (4.3.22-69)

30 May (R): Henry V; Elizabeth: Henry's wooing of Katherine (5.2.100); does anything strike you as odd or strange?

31 May (F): First exam due via email by 9 a.m. stapletm@pfw.edu

Fourth Week

3 June (M): No class

4 June (T): Macbeth  Natalie: the first scene;  Sarah:  Macbeth's soliloquy "If it were done when 'tis done" (1.7)  

5 June (R): Macbeth  Jen: does it matter that only Macbeth can see the ghost of Banquo in (3.4)?  James: the Porter scene is hardly comic relief (2.3), though William Hazlitt insisted it was. What could be its purpose? 

Fifth Week

10 June (M)  Macbeth  Tara: what is the point of the conversation between Lady Macduff and her son? Why is it in the play? (4.2)   Megan: go back and read the Lady's soliloquy (1.5). How does it echo in the last part of the play? 

11 June (T)  Macbeth   Michael: how does the most famous speech in the play, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" (5.5.17), connect to the rest of the action? Ryan: how justified is Malcolm's joint epithet for Macbeth and the Lady? "this dead butcher and his fiendlike queen" (5.7.99)?

13 June (R) The Tempest   Nathaniel: Schneider essay; Erick: Hamlin essay


Sixth Week

17 June (M):  The Tempest   Elizabeth: Slights essay

18 June (T):   The Tempest  

20 June (R):  The Tempest  

22 June (F): Second exam due via email, 9 a.m.  stapletm@pfw.edu


Ellen Terry by Julia Margaret Cameron


You are allowed three (3) absences for any reason you choose. Students who miss more than this will fail the course, without exception, regardless of circumstances. I do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences, nor am I responsible for material that you miss because you are absent. Students who miss the attendance call (the first five minutes of class) will be marked absent; students who get up and leave in the middle of class will be marked absent. Please take care of your rest room issues BEFORE class. If you must leave, give us the high sign.  DON'T JUST GET UP AND WALK OUT.


Your take-home exams are due on the scheduled non-class dates by 9 a.m. via email. Late papers = 0. No exceptions. These will be short, 3-4  pp.  Your first exam may be revised after meeting with the instructor in the office and discussing your plans.


It should go without saying that students are also expected to do their own work; indebtedness to secondary materials (either printed or electronic) must be clearly indicated so as to avoid plagiarism: 

—(piecemeal) using someone else’s words and phrases as if they were your own, not pararphrasing or summarizing properly, even with proper documentation;
—(grotesque) using someone else’s ideas as if they were your own, without proper documentation;
—(more grotesque) allowing someone else to write your paper for you.     



The course grade will be determined by a rough averaging together of your  take-home midterm, take-home final exam, and the less formal writing I will assign individually for presentational purposes. I reserve the right to take into additional factors into account; improvement, class participation, and, of course, attendance. Grades are not negotiable, personal, or subject to the influence of extracurricular academic factors. 


You may email me at any time. I will usually get back to you quickly: stapletm@pfw.edu

I always acknowledge an email submission with a reply confirming receipt. If you DON'T hear from me after a reasonable period of time, it means I didn't get the paper. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up in this case, not mine.  


To get you involved and your voices heard, we'll try and run things like a seminar for part of every class period. At first, I'll be assigning our short presentation topics ahead of time, or you can volunteer. They will sharpen your mind and engage you in the material: a line, passage, or scene germane to our class. Before you come to class, you'll write up a brief version of your presentation (one paragraph), including a picture that will help us visualize. And you'll email it to me. I will then post it on my teaching blog, which will be accessible for all to see while you're talking.  You may read notes, do a PowerPoint, or PERFORM. 

instructions for exam writing

Identify each quotation

Who said it? Where, and why? 

Explain, specifically, how it relates to the point you're making

Which words or phrases make reference to the concept you're trying to explain, and why does your evidence matter?  

Devote a solid paragraph-page to each quotation

Paragraphs should be focused on a single topic, with topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. They should not consist of a series of broad, unrelated statements.

Relate the quotations to one another

 This is where we see what you've got. Which words and phrases seem especially important in each quotation as they relate to the other quotations?  

Avoid summary or storytelling: analysis only, please

What each quotation says is fairly clear. So there's no need to rehash or summarize the Shakespeare. Assume we can all read it. Why does it matter? Why is it important? What insight can you bring to the material?

Check out the Writing page--Revision

Go up to the site menu and click on Writing. Pay special attention to the sections on analysis, lead-ins and quotations, and quoting poetry.

We cite Shakespeare in parentheses by (Play abbr. act.scene.line-numbers).  TN, H5

Your  first paper should be 3-4 pp., double-spaced.  Your second essay should be 4-6 pp., double-spaced.

You are allowed to revise your first exam, provided that you meet with me in the office to discuss it first. You are welcome to turn in the revision at any time before the due date for your second exam, 22 June, 9 a.m.

first exam: Answer both questions

Tom Hiddleston as Henry V, The Hollow Crown (2016)

"I am not what I am" (TN 3.1.132)

This seems like an obvious thing for the disguised Viola to say while fending off the advances of the lovesick and beguiled Olivia.

1. Can the phrase be applied to Viola ironically as well?

Is she somehow unaware of who she projects herself to be? Is there any discrepancy between what she says about herself and who she really might be? Do her actions somehow contradict her words?

Which words or phrases in Twelfth Night make reference to this concept, and why does your evidence matter?   

Paragraphs should be focused on a single topic, with topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. They should not consist of a series of broad, unrelated statements. 

2. Viola's phrase echoes in our history play.

Shakespeare's conqueror is clearly not at all times the blameless "mirror of all Christian kings" (H5 2.Pr.6).  Apply the idea from the first question to Henry, but with a twist: is he aware of this discrepancy in himself?

Which words or phrases in Henry V make reference to this concept, and why does your evidence matter?   

Paragraphs should be focused on a single topic, with topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. They should not consist of a series of broad, unrelated statements. 


Late papers = 0

3-4 pp.


Be sure that I acknowledge the receipt of your exam in responding to the email including your exam. 

Microsoft Word only

second exam: attend to the whole thing


"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together."

Let's take this splendid observation and apply it to our two plays.  

Review the ten brief passages from Macbeth and The Tempest that are reproduced below. Decide for yourself which group of lines  from the Scottish play  and which from the comedy featuring Prospero would be best discussed together. 

Before you write, then, you should have five pairs of quotations made up from each drama. Devote one section of your exam to each dyad you create. There's no wrong way to do this, just as long as you stick to the two extracts you've chosen to join together.

To return to the aforementioned "splendid observation": some would say that Shakespeare rewrites his tragedies in his final phase. Do you find this occurring as you decide which sets of  lines from both works should be read together? Or have you reached a different conclusion as the result of your scholarly endeavors?

The Tempest

Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick,
Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury
Do I take part: the rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance  (5.1)

You, brother mine, that entertain'd ambition,
Expell'd remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,
Would here have kill'd your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art  (5.1)

By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune,
Now my dear lady, hath mine enemies
Brought to this shore; and by my prescience
I find my zenith doth depend upon
A most auspicious star, whose influence
If now I court not but omit, my fortunes
Will ever after droop  (1.2)

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again. 

There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple:
If the ill spirit have so fair a house,
Good things will strive to dwell with't.  (1.2)


Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,
Making the green one red. (2.2)

There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust. (1.4)

Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand.  (4.1)

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (5.5)

O, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: 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;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. (1.5)



Late papers = 0

4-6 pp. 


Be sure that I acknowledge the receipt of your exam in responding to the email including your exam. 

Microsoft Word only