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1 = general literature & Shakespeare
2 = Dickens & 20th century
3 = about the list of 5
List to choose a book from:
- Huxley | Brave New World
- Orwell | 1984
- Kesey | One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- Potok | The Chosen
- Walker | The Color Purple
- Malamud | The Assistant
- Ira Levin | The Boys from Brasil
- What do you know about Shakespeare? Please list as much as possible.
- Think [individually], Pair [talk in groups] and Share [speak in class].
- Discuss the results of 1 with the class.
- General Introduction: (Students make notes now) Elizabethan period...
Did you know that William Shakespeare:
- lived from 1564 (we only know the date of baptising) till 1616?
- Was born in Stratford on Avon?
- Father John was a merchant and mother Mary daughter of a landowner?
- He married at 18 in 1582 to Anne Hatheway who was 26?
- 6 months later daughter Susanne was born? …
- Two years later the couple had twins?
- One of the twins died at the age of 11?
- He went to London in 1585?
- 1592 a first pamflet appeared with S’s name in it?
- 1593 he publishes his first work, a poem called Venus and Adonis
- 1594 he joins Lord Chamberlain’s men, he remains a member of this theatrical company during his whole career, only the name changed to The King’s Men when King James became the patron in 1603.
- In 1612 he writes his last plays and then he retires.
- 23 april 1616 he died in Stratford, where he was also buried.
- In 1623 two of his collegues published his work, which wasn’t done really, nobody really collected and there was no copyright, but this action gives us a pretty good idea of what was really written by S, and what wasn’t.
Theatres / General:
The first started in inns and their courtyards. Options were limited, but they did what they could. With
Romeo and Julliet for instance they seperated the two groups by wearing different colours. Shakespeare
wrote in Blank Verse (iambic, 5 stresses in one line), in poetry so to speak, which is very difficult to do.
Nowadays people only write plays in prose.
The renaissance started roundabout 1500. Writers use the old Greek features of drama again.
Serious subjects were being dealt with again. Shakespeare was born at exactly the right time, in a
fantastic cultural era. He wrote for all people to enjoy, which was unique, before it was only for the upper
Theatres were built outside city walls so censureship didn’t count there. Authorities weren’t fond of
theatres, because the illiterate were being informed now, whereas you could keep them ignorant before.
Actors were shareholders in the theatres they performed in.
Shakespeare provided his company with plays. A play ran for about 10 days, imagine the pressure
on playwrights! Relatively few have survived considering the amount of them that must have been
produced. Everyone stole from each other, cause the copyright hadn’t been invented yet.
The success of a play was mostly measured by the number of corpses which were on the stage at
the end. The killings had to be original as well.
S’s plays are so popular because people can identify with him. Feelings, thoughts, dilemmas, they
are all there.
[I guess you could compare S to a modern day “Joop van den Ende”, if you wanted to make a comparison.]
Shakespeare wrote all types of plays:
- Historical: he borrowed tales from a history book (Holinshed) and wrote new plots to them. Examples
are: Henry IV, V, and VI, Richard III. Under the heading of historical we could also classify the Roman plays:
Anthony and Cleopatra, Julius Ceasar etc.
- Tragedies: Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear.
- Comedy: The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night.
Some plays are romantic and tragic at the same time: Romeo and Julliet. So the division into groups isn’t
From: ‘Macbeth’ (William Shakespeare)
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.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest: I see thee still;
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.
Second lesson: Dickens and 19th century.
Realism 19th century: Victorian period.
meaning truth to the observed facts of life (especially when they are gloomy). Subjects were to be taken
from everyday life, preferably from the lower classes.
1812-1870 Charles Dickens… charicatures, flat characters. He was the most important critic of social
conditions, industrialism which he knew from his own experience and human weaknesses, father was in
debt, whole family imprisoned. Worked himself to death from fear of poverty. Great story-teller. Recitals,
14 course dinners etc. Published in installments, therefore a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter in his
Insert more on Dickens ...
Third lesson: divide the students into groups, according to book, and let them talk about what’s important
to know about their books. Impact it had on society, themes, main characters, title explanation etc.
Some notes to use:
Brave New World (1937)
Huxley: theme in work: man’s role in society and to find the meaning of his perception.
Brave New World is a fable about a world state in de 7th century AF (After Ford), where social stability is
based on a scientific caste system. Bernard Marx is the main character in this world where the Alphas are
highest in order and the Epsilons are lowest. Children are made in incubators and are methodically
conditioned to accept their circumstances. Marx visits a Mexican reservation and brings a savage back to
London. He is at first fascinated with this new world, but finally revolted and his argument with the world
leader demonstrates the incompatibility of individual freedom and a scientifically trouble-free society.
This book was received as being decades ahead of its time.
Theme: 1 power ruling the world. And also the fact that people embraced this and wanted this. They are
being supressed as such, not with guns, but through the use of SOMA. It keeps them happy and content,
so that they accept their fate.
1984 - George Orwell (1948)
A nightmare story of totalitarianism of the future and one man’s hopeless struggle against it. Winston Smith has no heroic qualities only a longing for truth and decency. But where there is no privacy, and where deviant ideas result in death he knows there is no hope for him. His short love-affair results in arrest by the thought police and when, after months of torture and brain washing he is released, he finally surrenders.
This book is a warning of the possibilities of the police state brought to perfection, where power is all that matters, where the past is changed to fit the present, where the language ‘Newspeak’ is diminished to narrow the range of ideas and independent thought. A society dominated by slogans- ‘War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength’ – controlled by the compulsory worship of Big Brother.
- Orwell warns against totalitarian regimes in 1984 and Animal Farm.
- Compare our society to the one in the book. Is the monitoring the Party does thinkable?
- What system do we know in real life that’s copied in this book? (Communism)
- What saying has sprung from this book and is still being used? (Big Brother is Watching You)
- Winston Smith commits crimes every day. How? (thought crimes, remembering another society before this one)
- What’s his job? (History changer for the Party)
- Everything is the other way around. The Ministery of Love is where you go for punishment and conditioning. O’Brien (who fed him and Julia information about the Brotherhood -against the Party- is actually a Party member and Winston and Julia are captured and conditioned.
- When all else fails you are taken to Room 101 in which you must face your worst nightmare; in Winston’s case he is exposed to rats in a cage in the shape of his head and they threaten to remove the thing which keeps them away. He betrays Julia.
- Two Minutes Hate?
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Kesey (1962)
- Angst voor vrouwen is een belangrijk thema. Zowel Broom als McM lijden daaronder. Nurse R en de directrice zijn vrouwen. Billy B lijdt nog steeds onder zijn moeder.
- Machines en de rol die ze spelen in het boek.
- Waar McM voor staat, symboliek in wie hij is.
The Chosen - Chaim Potok (1967)
- Title = The Jews are the chosen people of God, and Danny is of course chosen by his father to become the next rabbi.
- Theme = friendship
- Theme = struggle between tradition of religion and knowledge (Danny wants to study psychology and is allowed to do so in the end)
- What terrible discovery is important in the book? (Holocaust; the story takes place around the Second World War)
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
- Who does Celie write the letters to? (first to God, later on to Nettie)
- Time frame is about 40 years, beginning before cars, and ending when owning a car was nothing special.
- Only way for Celie not to feel the pain or any emotions in her marriage to Mr is by imagining she’s wood, she tells herself: “I’m a tree”, so as to not feel the beatings.
- Characterise Celie’s growth in the novel. (from ignorant, not knowing how to change her predicament she becomes aware of her own worth, there’s a slow awakening).
- Who sets these changes in Celie about? (Shug Avery, who functions as a kind of God to Celie)
- Difference with the film --> Shug finds one of Nettie’s letters and gives it to Celie, they then search in Albert’s trunk at night and remove all the letters, but leave the envelopes. (In the film the search is during Easter, when Grady and Albert are drunk).
- When Celie tells Albert she’s leaving him, he tries to slap her in the face and she stabs a knife in his hand.
- Shug doesn’t want Celie to accompany her on tour and Celie starts making trousers for everybody. She has her own business now.
- When Celie has inherited the house (which was hers to begin with) and Shug is in love with a 19-year-old boy she moves into her own house.
This is a great and fun book for 5H and 5V/6V kids a can lead to fun discussions on the book
exam, since Pi has several religions and there's the "eat or be eaten / kill or be killed"
principle in the novel. Also, this seems rather important to them, it's easy to read and has now
been made into a major motion picture.
Life of Pi has three parts. In the first main character, Pi, an adult, looks back upon his childhood. Piscine
Molitor Patel ("Pi") was named after a swimming pool. He changed his name to Pi when he started to
attend secondary school, because he was tired of being mistakenly called "Pissing Patel." His parents
owned a zoo. He was born a Hindu, but as the fourteen-year-old came into contact with Christianity and
Islam he started to follow three religions. He tried to understand God through the lens of each religion,
and came to recognize the benefits of each. Eventually, his family decided to move to Canada for
In the second part, the boat carrying Pi and his family plus most of the animals in their zoo to Canada
sinks and Pi ends up with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan in a
small lifeboat. The Bengaltiger is named so because of a clerical error. The tiger was actually caught by
a British National called Richard Parker, but while documenting it, the zoo worker notes down that as the
name of the tiger. All the other humans and animals that were on the boat drown in the ocean. The
zebra's leg is broken when it jumps into the lifeboat from the sinking ship and hence is unable to move.
The hungry hyena tears off the zebra's leg and spends the next several days eating the zebra bit by bit.
Then the hyena kills the orangutan named "Orange Juice", even though she was not a natural prey of the
hyena. Eventually Richard Parker kills the hyena after a fierce battle for territory. The hyena is eaten by
the tiger. This leaves Pi as the only other survivor along with the tiger. Food and water supplies start
running low after a month since the lifeboat was designed to sustain 32 people for a day or two. Pi starts
fishing to get food for him as well as Richard Parker, whom he keeps fed so that he won't eat him alive.
He also wants to keep him alive so that he will not be all alone on the ocean. "The very thought of being
alone is worse than being stranded on a lifeboat with a 450-pound tiger" he thinks. Pi ensures, with his
knowledge as the son of a zoo-keeper, that Richard Parker believes Pi is the alpha animal and therefore
doesn’t attack the boy. 227 days pass and Pi manages to stay alive. Pi is sometimes half in delusion,
and thirst and hunger are ever-present. He's forced to eat cigarettes, turtle and even a shoe. After 227
days the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico.
(Accidentally, 22 divided by 7 is a common approximation of pi).
The third part is a conversation between two people from the Japanese maritime department. They want
to know what might have gone wrong with the ship, so they ask Pi for his story, but they don't believe it.
He tells another story, in which the orangutan is his mother, the zebra is a sailor with a broken leg, and
the hyena is a cook who killed Pi's mother and ate the sailor. Richard Parker is Pi himself.
Pi asks the two people which of the two stories they prefer. The people say they prefer the story with the
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Please write down the answers to the following questions in English
1. Give the title explanation of the book. Try to be as accurate as possible.
2. Describe the main character. Try to use at least 50 words. If the main character is a flat character, describe 2 or 3 of the characters in the book.
3. Chose an important passage from the book which you thought was vital to the story. Explain why you chose this passage. Use at least 50 words.
4. Has the main character changed towards the end of the book? If so, how is he/she different from the beginning?
5. Give your opinion of the book. Be specific! (Do not say: “I liked it because it was nice...” or something along those lines, but try to explain why you liked/hated the book.)
Remember to write legibly and try to stick to the point.