English Literature

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2018-19: Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern Time


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Unit III: The Renaissance

Week 12
Please read:

William Shakespeare: Richard III

This you will need to get from the library or from a bookstore. Be prepared for this, and read it carefully enough to keep track of what is going on. The plot is quite complex. I have posted here a character list with links to the Wikipedia articles on the historical characters in question. You may or may not find it useful, but it does occasionally serve as a corrective to the liberties Shakespeare himself has taken with the play, and it serves as a separate list you can look at from time to time to remind yourself of who's who.

You may wish, with your parents' assent, to watch one or another of the video versions of the play. Probably the best and most balanced is the one from the BBC Shakespeare Plays set; the Laurence Olivier film version of the play from the 1950s, is chock full of theatrical greats, but is cut and (worse) supplied with lines that were either imported from other plays (Henry VI, Part 3, mostly) or written by other people entirely (Colley Cibber, in particular). I cannot recommend the more recent version with Ian McKellen, though he is indisputably an extraordinary actor. It is not suitable for family viewing, and McKellen has taken such grotesque liberties with the play that it no longer has much resemblance to Shakespeare's play. For somewhat more complete film recommendations, look at my own evolving Shakespeare on View site.

For this week's discussion, I would like to concentrate on these points: