Tag Archives: Butterworth

Jerusalem (Butterworth): An introduction for students and teachers. Completed draft

PDF: Jerusalem study guide draft 1 JWP (2)

I have been putting together an introduction to Butterworth’s play. This is my draft complete copy. It is definitely work in progress, but I welcome feedback.
The play appears on the OCR set text list for AS and can be used, therefore for the coursework element at A level, yet there is no published material on the play and OCR have not produced one of their useful guides to give us a hint at what areas of a splendidly rich text they will be focused upon.
I hope some who read this will get in touch with suggestions and corrections… I am still working on it as you can see.

WORD: Jerusalem study guide draft 1 JWP (2)

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Jerusalem for AS English Lit: potential essay titles.

A list of essay titles for revision purposes.  Whilst these are not really intended to follow the OCR outlines, I think that the ground covered in a sensible planning of each will leave little to chance…

  • ‘What the fuck do you think an English forest is for?’ Explore the depiction of England as part of a pastoral narrative.
  • Ginger needs Johnny, but Johnny also needs Ginger: Discuss
  • Explore the depiction of youth as shown in the characters Davey and Lee.
  • To what extent do you view Troy Whitworth to be the ‘villain’ of the play?
  • ‘A fairy tale for the 21st Century’. To what extent do you agree with this idea of the play?
  • Explore the role of music in the play
  • From Blake to Gog and Magog. What is the role of Heritage in this play?
  • The audience should pity Johnny. Do you agree?
  • The audience should feel sympathy for Fawcett. Do you agree?
  • Phaedra is as much a victim as Johnny is. To what extent do you agree with this view?
  • Jerusalem is play which never loses its relevance. Do you think this is a fair comment?
  • How is violence used in this play?
  • Consider the theme of friendship in this play.
  • Johnny is little more than a scallywag, he should not frighten us. To what extent do you find this to be a fair comment on the play?
  • Choose two minor characters and explore the dramatic function of these characters in the play.

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Jerusalem (Butterworth): An introduction for students and teachers

I am putting together an introduction to Butterworth’s play. This is the beginning s of the first draft… it is definitely work in progress, but I welcome feedback.
The play appears on the OCR set text list for AS and can be used, therefore for the coursework element at A level, yet there is no published material on the play and OCR have not produced one of their useful guides to give us a hint at what areas of a splendidly rich text they will be focused upon.
I hope some who read this will get in touch with suggestions and corrections… I am still working on it as you can see.


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“Jerusalem is the most Shakespearean of Butterworth’s plays”. Looking at the play, what are the features which reflect this cultural heritage.

A series of student essays in response to the above.

I like the discussion of double entendre and sexual allusion in this one

It is said that Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’ has irrefutable references to Shakespeare and cultural literary heritage. Like Shakespeare, Butterworth also makes crude and yet humorous sexual innuendos alongside profanities, the only difference being Shakespeare’s are subtler. Furthermore, Johnny and Ginger resemble characters from Shakespeare work and resemble what ‘real Englishness’ truly means.

Whilst the language in ‘Jerusalem’ is so clearly offensive, the rudeness in Shakespeare’s plays are often overlooked or misunderstood. Throughout ‘Jerusalem’ we hear Byron and his battalion of “rats” utter all kinds of crude words. From a simple “bloody” to a more aggressive “cunt”, the characters in this play feel more than happy enough to speak with such colour. One might expect that Shakespeare plays, ones that have been approved by a Queen and now taught in schools, to contain no sexual innuendos or profanities at all. This is not the case. His plays were littered with various comments hat often go unnoticed. In arguably Shakespeare’s most famous work, Hamlet, we see the mad Prince make a racy comment concerning Ophelia and some “country matters”. In writing one would think nothing of this comment, however, phonetically it is clear that “country” is implied to replicate the word “cunt”. Shakespeare used profanities, the only problem being: our language has evolved. The same words that were considered ‘rude’ in Shakespeare’s time no longer hold the same context or meaning. We now live in a world full of “fucks”, “shits”, “cunts” and so on. Both Shakespeare and Butterworth use swear words to depict what the real world is like. People swear, especially the English. This has been part of English culture for centuries. In Henry IV we see the female anatomy being disguised as a “Pie-corner” and again “pie” is used in ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ to describe the vagina. It is not abnormal that Shakespeare plants subtle sexual innuendoes or oaths that are almost impossible to find unless you know they are there. These jokes or references are only clear for someone of that time. Like in ‘Jerusalem’ with the “Mars Bar” story, only someone who understood the reference to a young and wild Mick Jagger would pick up on it. Shakespeare did the same and wrote for the people of his era.

As well as the free use of profanities and sexual innuendoes, Butterworth and Shakespeare share the same enthusiasm and engagement with the English forest. The woods in Flintock are dangerous and “strange”. From “a rainbow” hitting the “earth and set fire to the ground” to “a young girl…give birth to a baby boy” the forest demonstrates a degree of beauty and magic. The time throughout ‘Jerusalem’ goes ever so slowly and it seems as though the woods are a place outside the realm of ‘civilised’ people. The woods are a completely world altogether. Similarly, Shakespeare’s forest in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ contains magic through the use of fairies. One must draw similarities between the fairies in this play and that of the “May Queen”, Phaedra, dressed as a “fairy” in ‘Jerusalem’. Furthermore, the forest is often seen as a place to escape and find solitude. We see Phaedra “flee” from her arguably abusive stepfather into “Rooster’s Wood”. Again in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Hermia and Lysander escape into the forest to be alone from the rest of the world. Ginger, Pea, Tanya and the rest of the Flintock misfits come to the forest to experience something they cannot otherwise experience in the ‘real world’. A place where there are no rules, no policemen and nobody judging you is what the woods provide. Despite its danger of a “Werewolf” in ‘Jerusalem’, the forest can provide an element of safety but also riot. After all “What the fuck do you think an English forest is for?”

As well as the language and imagery that have similarities, the characters in ‘Jerusalem’ demonstrate a significant reference to the characters in some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Firstly, characters like Pea and Tanya share the same names as Shakespeare character, such as Peaseblossom and Titania from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. These similarities mustn’t be overlooked and should be seen as a clear reference by Butterworth to English literary heritage and therefore the Pastoral.

However, Johnny can be compared to one Shakespearean character in particular, Falstaff. Much like Rooster, Falstaff creates riot and misrule, something Johnny has an expertise in. Many critics link the character of Falstaff to carnival and the spring festive season. Once again, Johnny is also associated with carnival and is described as “the Flintock Fair”, implying that without him fair day, carnival and riot are not the same.

On the other hand, Ginger also shows characteristics similar to that of Falstaff. He too takes part in riot and misrule, but also stands by Johnny throughout the years; despite the fact Johnny often abuses him verbally. Prince Hal insults Falstaff by calling him a “trunk of humors” or a “bolting-hutch of beastliness”, whilst Johnny tells Ginger “I’m not your friend” and calls him a “rat” regularly. Furthermore, it seems as though all Ginger wants is Johnny’s approval, and that’s the reason he’s stayed with him for so long. All he wants is for Johnny to say” Ginger is a DJ”, and yet Johnny won’t give in. Perhaps Rooster enjoys infuriating Ginger over small things like this or maybe it is friendly ‘banter’. Falstaff also wants approval from Prince Hal, and goes out of his way to impress and obey him. Even Falstaff’s occupation resembles Ginger, after all being a knight means you must obey the orders of the Prince. Similarly, it is Johnny who “winds the siren” and rallies the troops, therefore Ginger is just another one of his soldiers.

In the end, Johnny turns his back on Ginger and says ”We’re not friends” and orders him to leave “Rooster’s Wood”. Again, Falstaff is repudiated by Hal and never earns his approval. This cannot be a coincidence and must be seen as a nod to English heritage and the importance that Shakespeare has had on what it means to be ‘English’

In conclusion, Butterworth has written a play littered with references to the Pastoral, the Golden Age and of course to Shakespeare. It must be said that Shakespeare and his plays have had such an impact on England, so much so that it is still taught in schools today and has shaped the way we speak. I think Butterworth recognizes the importance of Shakespeare and tries to replicate the intrinsic nature of what it means to be ‘English’ in ‘Jerusalem’.




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Jerusalem (Butterworth) knowledge organiser

A knowledge organiser to support teaching of Butterworth’s Jerusalem on the OCR AS syllabus.


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Jerusalem (Butterworth): Term Paper collection

I thought I would collect a few essays written this term about Jerusalem by my Lower 6th Boys.  I believe these to contain some excellent material, perhaps not in the form of model essays for examination, but in the form of written work to promote discussion and to provide material for discussion.

Please use them and share them to a wider audience.  I have not edited them and have not included the “marked” versions quite deliberately. This is the work of 16 and 17 Year olds and I believe it stands on its own regard without excuses.



Please enjoy.

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“The vision of England depicted by Butterworth is a bleak one. Society is in crisis.”.

A lower 6th discussion seminar base don an essay by one of the class. Please feel free to listen and to add comments as you will.

I find the use of MP3 recording in these sessions is having a real impact on the quality of the written expression – vindication in its own right.

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Yr 12 conversations after OCR AS texts

Two members of my Lower 6th class surprised me last week by announcing that they had been recording conversations about our set texts as a revision model. I am so pleased.

I hope they are useful. I would be happy to post responses if anyone has them…

I will share them below as they appear:

Tom and Karan on Jerusalem and Hypocrisy (among other things)


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On Ginger and Davey: Jerusalem, Butterworth

img_1016 I found this on the board when I arrived to teach this  morning….

This is an essay seminar on Jerusalem for OCR AS level English Literature. I think it is excellent and warmly offer it to anyone teaching the text as a basis for discussion.

The transcript is here:


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Johnny, Phaedra and Troy: abusers? victims?

This article looks at the question of the nature of the abuse suffered by Phaedra Cox in Butterworth’s play Jerusalem.  Certain facts are incontrovertible:  She has run away and she is living in Johnny’s back room, but beyond this, it is well-nigh impossible to come to a definite answer about who she is fleeing from and who might be trying to protect her.  In a play which revolves around the idea of St George and the Dragon, and therefore around the protection of an innocent young girl from a predator, students need to look carefully at what is evident and derive their own conclusions – though I would suggest that there is no clear answer here.

In act one, the audience meets Phaedra during the Prologue, without realising who she might be.  The fact of her disappearance is only introduced later in the act, around pages 27/28 when she is the subject of discussion among the “onlookers” at the court of Johnny Byron.  At this point the audience cannot fail to be concerned that she is obviously hiding in the caravan, yet it is clear that no one present knows this – Johnny is currently “off”, swinging his axe in a display of repressed violence which does little to lighten the moment.  we learn amongst other things, her age (15) and the fact that the pubs in Flintock regularly serve under-age drinkers.  We also hear that she is “always going off” suggesting that flight might be a regular part of her life in relation to her home. When she next appears at the top of Act 2 she sings Dransfield’s Werewolf – a dark song about the feelings of lust felt by a predatory figure as he approaches his victims – victims to whom he is drawn by love.  Butterworth is unclear here as to the rationale for this song.  It may simply be to maintain the discussion about abusers, but I feel that the fact that Phaedra seems ot be singing words used to justify the abuse of a young girl by one who “loves” her, we should be looking for an altogether closer relationship with regards to this concern.

Later in the act we meed Troy, her “father”.  When he appears on P78, there need be no reading other than one of extreme concern as he and Johnny begin a rapid dialogue:  Johnny is unusually solicitous here and there is a sense that he is on the back foot as he addresses Troy and focuses on the past – “mate”, “these days”.  We wonder if he is consciously defusing a situation which might get out of hand.  Whilst this works whichever male is seen as the predator, society will usually see the outsider as the wrongdoer in a snap judgement, though studies show most abuse to derive from the family home.

After the pair spar about the audience of onlookers, things take a turn for the aggressive.  Troy turns on Pea with an aggression and a use of invective unusual in the play.  we are used to extremes of language being used consistently as part of the vernacular of the group.  Here Troy deploys sexual invective as a weapon. The “cockhole/cakehole” juxtaposition suggests a man used to using sexual terms aggressively to young girls and only to young girls.  True, Ginger is a “lanky cunt”, but this seems much more in line with the routine use of this word throughout the play.  Pea seems to be singled out for special attention, presumably because of her gender.

Possibly the catalyst for this behavior is Johnny’s surprising line of attack.  He has successfully managed to keep an audience and now he picks at Troy, making allegations of abuse that are all too clear.  Perhaps he assumes Troy will back off and leave.

On pages 79 and 81 he is quite explicit: he pours sensual detail upon detail describing Phaedra’s “brown hair. Freckles. Big eyes… lovely big eyes”.  This repetition seems to make a link between Phaedra and the heroine of a manga comic, viewed as a sexual prize for the predator.  His purpose is not wholly clear, but it seems unlikely that the would have so lost control here as to display his own fantasies in this way.  On 81 he is more direct asking “you miss her, boy?” and establishing Phaedra as a figure of Troy’s nocturnal sexual fantasies before inquiring “she in your dreams?”.  His statement that it may be not just that Troy “feels a little bit randy today” could not be clearer: he is accusing Troy of abuse of his own daughter, an accusation which lies unanswered.

This is because Johnny has overstepped the mark and Troy, realising that he can humiliate him, responds.  He does so in a speech notable for the lack of vile language and coarseness, suggestive once more that his violence is turned generally towards teenage girls.  Butterworth thus leaves this question unanswered for the moment.  The audience’s attention is swiftly taken to Troy’s description of the abject humiliation of Johnny and the implication of the whole group in this action.  The scene ends in embarrassment and threat.

The final scene to consider is that in Act 3 between Phaedra and Johnny. The close of Act two prepares the audience for the final manifestation of the St George story. In this scene we see it.  On page 100, Phaedra emerges from the caravan for her first interaction with another character.  Her first question: “have they gone, who are they, Johnny?” suggests both a nervousness possibly derived from the fact that any officials may well be looking for her and a lack of confidence in her surroundings.  In the swift interchange which follows (stichomythia) there is little evident emotion, let alone affection shown between the pair.  The dialogue suggests, by the metaphor of the goldfish, that Johnny is a poor father and hearks back to his treatment of Marky in Act 2.  There is no evidence here for anything other than a recent relationship based on practicality, rather than affection.  Butterworth avoids any muddying of this moral crisis by focusing more on societal reactions in the face of suspected abuse, than on any question about whether a 15 year old is old enough to make up her own mind about sexual congress.  As the conversation develops, Phaedra informs Johnny about the state of the back room – “stuffy”, “there’s mildew all over it” and continues to be presented as a recent visitor to the caravan.  When Johnny answers her query about his home, she does not believe what is the most plausible of all Johnny’s tales and then seems utterly uninterested when he responds to her childish query about fairies with a speech rich in imagery about the forest.  This is the point which begins to answer the query from act 1 “What the fuck is an English forest for?”  The two seem so far apart emotionally that she can respond to this magical tale not with wonder, but with the prosaic “It’s five to six”.  This suggests that she is not yet ready to be listed among those who are naturally attracted to the wood.

Her response instigates a discussion of the fair and her role which culminates in her expression of sorrow.  She orders Johnny to dance with her and is so demanding that he warns her about her behaviour – he seems genuinely worried for her. “I seen you looking at me, you like me just fine.  You should watch yourself.  You should get yourself away, lass”.  This last sentence suggesting again that the caravan is a temporary place of refuge rather than anything more sinister.  When they do dance, the final element of the mystery is shown to the audience: “They stop.  Looking into each others eyes. Close. Suddenly she turns and flees”  She has made Johnny dance and they do.  The issue here is in the eyes and her response.  Something at this moment terrifies her and the stage direction picks up the same language – “flees” as the opening of the play.  What might she have seen?

In act 2, Johnny scares Dawn by making her look deep into his eyes and we must assume that Phaedra may well see something similar here.  Possibly her future in thrall to her abuser or some form of awareness of power which terrifies her.  The stage directions suggest, though, a simpler meaning. She “turns and flees”.  This may suggest that she turns away from whatever scared her.  When Johnny turns, he too sees what this is:  Troy and his branding irons.  At this point in the Royal Court Production, Rylance threw his arms wide like a crucified Christ.  What could be clearer?  He takes the punishment so that she can escape.  A punishment delivered by a hypocrite who is the very cause of her upset.

Of course, this may not be “right” and every reader/viewer will have their own opinion, but to me it is too easy for Johnny to be seen as the abuser in this triangle.  Society is quick to point the finger and the press can be trawled for any number of parental abusers only too happy to point the finger at someone other than themselves.  Just as the “green and pleasant land” of Jerusalem is subsumed into the “dark, satanic mills”, I see St George in this tale being bested by the fire wielding dragon of society and hypocrisy.



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