(1)1213 Level N English Richard III Teachers Introduction and Act 1


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Unformatted text preview: women using animal symbols – dog, toad, spider. “Dog’” was a generally insulting term but the other two are associated specifically with witchcraft and evil. Richard is also frequently described as the ‘boar’ (a male pig). This is not Shakespeare’s choice of image. It is a matter of historic fact that the white boar was Richard’s symbol on his coat of arms and standard. LESSONS Lesson 1: Context Introduce historical background, characters, and plot. Key teaching points: 1) The play is NOT a historically accurate account, although it is based on historical facts. It was politically important for Richard to be portrayed as a bad man. 2) Relationships. Get students to draw a family tree which illustrates the relationships between the major characters. It should look like this: Duchess of York Henry VI = Queen Margaret Edward IV = Elizabeth (Queen) Clarence Richard III = Lady Anne = Prince Edward Elizabeth Edward V Duke of York Further additions could be a line from Queen Elizabeth indicating her two sons by previous marriage. Also Elizabeth of York (daughter of Edward IV) = Richmond after the play is over. It is worth noting that ALL the males on this tree are dead by the end of the play. So is Lady Anne Neville. 3) Primogeniture. It may be necessary to explain the law of descent by which a king’s eldest son succeeds to the throne on his death, followed by any other son that king has, if the eldest son is already dead. If a king has no sons then his next eldest brother inherits. A daughter or sister only inherits if there are NO male candidates. By this law, the succession from Edward IV should have passed to his eldest son Edward V, then to Edward V’s brother (the Duke of York), then to Clarence (being their father’s elder brother), and then – technically – to Clarence’s son (but Clarence’s ‘treason’ ruled him out) before it came to Richard. 4) Introduce the four themes outlined above and have students head a page in their copy‐books with each – Ambition, Kingship, Language and Superstition. As their studies of the play progress, they should add Act/Scene/Line references to these pages when examples of each are found. Questions: 1. Why was the civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York known as ‘The Wars of the Roses?’ 2. Why was it important for Shakespeare to portray Richard III as an evil man? 3. Why is language Richard’s most important asset, and potent weapon? 4. What is an ‘anti‐hero’? Lesson 2: Act 1 Scene 1. Richard the trickster Synopsis: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, sets the scene and informs the audience that after a long civil war the country is at peace and all those around Richard are celebrating. He, however, is not in the mood for festivities; he complains of his deformity, ugliness and lack of charm, and his bitterness about this makes him determined to focus his ambitions elsewhere – to gain power and make himself king. He hints at schemes he has set in motion – rumors to make King Edward suspicious of his brother Clarence. These are immediately seen to have worked, as Clarence enters in chains, a prisoner being led to the Tower of London. Richard promises to try to set Cla...
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