The Historical and Poetic Contexts of Richard III


For this week we explored the world of Elizabeth 1st, Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene,  and Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus together with Thomas More’s incendiary damnation of Richard III (from which Shakespeare borrowed furiously in order to keep in good with his reigning monarch!).

What an amazing world this was: a time of hysterical misogyny where women were assigned to the most menial roles and yet where the most powerful woman in the land was a woman. Elizabeth, in her poetry, her speeches and her actions proved herself capable of outwitting all the males trying to jostle for power and privilege. The national poet of the time Edmund Spenser wrote the longest poem in the English language in praise of this woman and Christopher Marlowe depicted the horrific outcome of someone who tried to put himself above the law.

Blog Topics for Week 4:

(due 11.59pm Friday 24th March- extension to Monday 27th March granted!)

What have you found most of interest in these wider contexts for Shakespeare’s Richard III?

Chose any one of the following questions or create your own:

CRITICAL: Write a short critique of one of the texts by Elizabeth 1st saying why you think the editors might have included this particular text in the Anthology

CREATIVE: Imagine you are one of Elizabeth Ist’s suitors and she has invited you to the palace for a conversation. Write her a letter accepting the invitation outlining what particular benefits you think you could bring to her situation. 

CRITICAL: Write a paragraph describing the dramatic power of the opening stanzas of Spenser’s The Fairie Queene. Try to point out why this poem is really worth reading. 

CREATIVE: In a well written paragraph describe Paulo Uccello’s painting of Saint George and the Dragon. What does the artist show and what theme is he trying to represent.

CRITICAL: Say briefly how the fate of Dr Faustus in the closing scenes of Marlowe’s play mirrors the end of Richard III.

CREATIVE: Imagine a conversation between Shakespeare and Richard III in which they discuss the over-reacher and why they want to write plays about this kind of person.

CRITICAL/ CREATIVE: Create a topic of your own that mirrors your strongest interests in this week’s material. dr-faus-1

  2 comments for “The Historical and Poetic Contexts of Richard III

  1. March 24, 2017 at 5:36 am

    I am thinking of emailing Mr Evans to see if we can have a transcript of the closing speech of his version of Richard III. I thought it a great dramatic ending. I would love to know who wrote it and the inspiration behind it.

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