Tag Archives: #revise2017AS

Jerusalem: the Play by Jez Butterworth

Interesting stimulus for a much under-resourced play. Yr12 – read this.

Beyond the Zeitgeist

Do we  believe that Johnny “Rooster” Byron is having sex with Phaedra, the 15-year-old girl he’s sheltering from the stepfather who has apparently been sexually abusing her? And, if we do, how come we don’t think Johnny’s abusing her, too? Or do we?

These questions go to the heart of what makes this play so interesting and disturbing—and the answer is only partly that Mark Rylance embodies Johnny as such a vivid life force that we might almost forgive him anything.

The tenderness of Johnny’s third-act scene with Phaedra certainly suggests a relationship. She brings down the curtain on the second act when she suddenly emerges from his trailer in the woods and calls his name. When she emerges again in Act 3 to find Johnny alone among the dilapidated furniture scattered in the yard out front, she recounts the thrill of being crowned queen of the annual fair on…

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OCR AS Eng Lit: Unseen model for Dystopia

The June 2016 paper included a passage from Ayn Rand’s Anthem as a source for the question: Discuss ways in which Orwell explores the threat to individuality in 1984.  I have encouraged students to focus on contexts -AO3 is the dominant AO – and not to stray from Orwell himself and the period around his creation of the novel with no reference to other writers.  Since we are teaching with the eventual A level in mind, this is confusing for the students – it almost feels as though they have to go backwards a little. Still, I think it is preferable to having to engage with wider reading and exploration in Year 13 alone.

Here goes: timer on…. 15 mins reading and notes for a 45 minute (maximum) writing period.

IDEAS: 

Respond to the question without the source:

Names – identity lost as unperson, 6079Smith

Identity lost in uniforms and 2 mins hate, also in common living and shared activities

totalitarian regimes scared of individuals – all reflect ideas of the Party – Katherine and anti-sex league vs Julia

writing as source of identity – thought police

Homogenised history/past…

Language

CONTEXTS:

Stalin/Hitler regimes and control

Orwell against fascism in 1930s Spain

Orwell aware of poor living conditions and proles lives from earlier writings.,

Orwell at BBC propaganda unit controlling thought and therefore reducing individual responses

Ideas explored in Animal Farm

RAND:

Equity 7-2521

Home of the street sweepers – collective living

We

need to write for ‘no ears but our own’ – thoughts forbidden (curse)

bracelets

Unable to resist the urge to rebel…

Orwell’s 1948 novel, 1984, is a warning to humanity about the dangers of a totalitarian state. Written after the defeat of Hitler and in the time of the emerging Cold War, the focus seems to be clearly Stalin’s Russia, though Orwell, who had fought against Franco in the 1930s and who had worked for the BBC propaganda unit in the Second World War is able to reflect the shift from Nazism to Communism as a focus with the ever-shifting background of alliances observed in his novel.

At a human level, such regimes seek to destroy individuality and this is explored in this pair of novels. Rand’s protagonist, Equality 7-2521 seems to have lost all individuality and become absorbed into a kind of ‘hive mind’, even to the extent of thinking of himself in the first person plural – ‘We’. Winston Smith has not yet descended to this level at the start of 1984 though he keeps jis name solely because of his status at work, where he is known as 6079Smith. Orwell has given him the blandest and most common English surname of the time as a step towards the loss of his identity and the replacement of his proud forename Winston again suggests a wish to remove his personality. Winston, recalling Churchill, suggests determination to fight on against impossible odds. The regime will not wish to engage with this idea. Individuality is further lost at the end of the novel when Winston becomes becomes an ‘unperson’. The negative prefix of this Newsspeak construct reinforces the idea of a removed identity – the fate of all who fall foul of the Party and its way of life – much ion the same way as Stalin’s victims sent to the Gulags lost all identity and rights as citizens, living out their lives in a hidden half-world at the Arctic Circle.

Identity is also seen in the way one dresses. In Rand’s text we learn that all men wear an ‘Iron Bracelet’ as an identity marker. In Orwell’s text the work force -the ‘Outer Party’ workers are required to wear blue overalls and to lose all sense of individuality in their clothing. This sense of commonality can then be seen in their behaviours – all required ot take part in the 2 minute hate and all chanting ‘B-B’ in homage of Big Brother regardless of any personal feeling. It is only in the highest echelons of the Party and in the ‘Golden Country’ that people can dress as individuals. The hypocrisy of the senior party members seen here is reminiscent of the enormous freedoms to accumulate wealth and material goods seen in Soviet Russia while the ordinary people starved.  In both texts there is an evident hand-to-mouth existence for the ordinary workers – Equity steals candles and Winston soap – everyday necessities.

In Rand’s text, the protagonist is aware of the need ot write -to explore his thoughts for ‘no ears but our own’. He is writing in his customary 1st person plural and referring solely to himself, just as Winston, when writing in his diary is driven to explore the thoughts which can never be spoken aloud: @I hate Big Brother’. For both there is a clear fear of reprisal for ‘thoughts which are forbidden’. In 1984 the constant awareness of the telescreen and the activities of the Thought Police result in those thought to be harbouring thoughts which do not suit the Party being taken away to the Ministry of Love. The euphemistic name, just as in Rand’s Palace of Corrective Detention – suggests a location in which people are helped rather than tortured. In this  Orwell departs from his Soviet model. Though clearly modelled on the Lubianka, no one in Soviet Russia would view the headquarters of the KGB in any way other than its grim reality.  Orwell is using his experience in the BBC propaganda department to show the power of controlling public expectation.

The final paragraph of Rand’s extract hints at the idea that in all men there is an urge to rebel – to recognise the moral issues in a situation and to stand up for the ‘right’. This ties in with Winston. He is not an heroic stereotype – downtrodden and frightened, hampered by his varicose leg he finds it in himself to rebel first as a lover as he is able to reject the attitude of his wife Katherine and the anti-sex league to find his own individuality in love with Julia (who ‘adores sex’) although this will eventually be his undoing, and then in his ill-fated attempts to subvert the Party system.

He has been spotted as a rebel without needing to be ‘six feet tall’. He has been played by O’Brien and will pay for his individuality in Room 101 and in his subsequent reincarnation as an unperson. He has lost his individuality since the Party cannot allow independent thought – it must have control of the Past, the Present and the Future.

 

43 minutes. I’d love some feedback if anyone reads this – where would you mark it in OCR AS marks schemes – and why?

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AS English Literature Unseen Prose (OCR)

new doc 2017-05-04 10.54.05_1

My notes for approaching the Unseen question in AS examinations. This based on the Dystopia cluster: 1984 and was a revision exercise.

Approaching the AS unseen question

H072_02_exemplars 2016 summer

H072-02_MS_June16

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Oral commentary: Merchant’s Tale lines 945-999

In my endeavour to focus Y12 on AO2, I recorded this today in a lesson. Please take a lesson – it was not pre-prepped and I make no apologies for the rough edges…

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Chaucer: discussion sound file. Lines 943-999. Merchant’s Tale.

A discussion of an essay submitted to consider the presentation of Januarie and May at a turning point in the poem.

The discussion is 35 minutes long and there is a slight corruption of the file at the end of the session. Plenty of interesting stuff here though.

 

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Merchant’s Tale draft essays for comment

The task: Explore the presentation of the character of May in lines 734-774.  Be sure to comment on the typicality of Chaucer’s writing in the extract.

This is an extract from a student essay: I’d love some feedback and suggested marking comment.

This passage comes after it is revealed that Damyan is lusts after May and is one of the first times in which the character of May is properly developed by Chaucer and used as a bathetic, ironic tool within the fabliau and satirizing the common tales of courtly love.

The passage begins with the description of how Januries ‘taketh hire and kisseth ful ofte’. The use of ‘taketh’ is akin to how one may handle a possession and perhaps indicates to the reader that the displays of affection which Januarie show’s by ‘kisseth ful ofte’ is not requited and instead the quote portrays May as an unwilling submissive partner in the relationship reminiscent of the scene earlier in the tale in which she is described as ‘still as stoon’ during the consummation of their marriage and the fact that the garden which acts as an extension of the bedroom for Januarie is described as ‘walled with stoon’ demonstrates that May to an extent, is portrayed as a prisoner within the relationship and this image is recurrent in this passage with the possessive verb of ‘taketh’ which shows that May is handled as a possession. The submissive nature of May within the relationship is further explored within the passage through the use of ‘How that he wroghte, I dar not to yow telle , or whether hire thought it paradys or helle’ in reference to Januare’s love-making.  The ‘how’ is stressed with the trochaic substitution and the sentence encourages the audience’s imagination to run wild whilst implicitly stating that the act which Januarie performed can be likened to rape. Furthermore the reference to May’s ‘paradys or helle’ forms a parallel phrase with the earlier statement in the passage in which Januarie describes how her clothes ‘dide hym  encombraunce’ and how she obeyed with ‘be hire lief or looth’. As both of her thoughts are likely to be the latter in the parallel phrases, Chaucer emphasizes to the reader that May as a character is dominated by Januarie and his demonstrations of affection are not requited by May showing how she is perhaps unwillingly dominated.

Furthermore, the ironic nature of May’s character is explored in this passage as the satirical nature of the tale begins to unravel. The ironic nature of her character is illustrated by the epithet ‘faire fresshe May’ with the alliterative epithet presenting May as wonderful and ‘faire’ however this is ironically undercut by the fact that she later plans to cuckhold Januarie in the passage by having an affair with Damyan. Thus the epithet can be seen not only to be seen as the ironic undercut provided by the Merchant who is aware of what she shall do next but also representing her deception as Januarie certainly holds the opinion that she is ‘faire’ and ‘fresshe’ but perhaps in actual fact she is rotten. The ironic undercut is prevalent later in the passage as Chaucer describes how ‘pitee renneth soone in gentil herte!’ when she reads Damyan’s letter. This is ironic as ‘gentil’ refers to the virtuous actions of a noble woman commonly seen in courtly love however in the particular setting May is anything but noble as bathetically the letter is read and discarded whilst upon the toilet and her supposedly ‘gentil’ heart looks onto Damayan’s ‘lust suffise’. Irony is seen throughout the Merchant’s tale demonstrated by the prologue in which the merchant references women from the Bible in what appears to be a glowing appraisal of women however this is ironically undercut by the infamous actions these women such as ‘Eve’ and ‘Rebekka’ performed – often acts of deceit. In this passage we see May being showered with positives epithets and the praise of having a ‘gentil’ heart however this is undercut by the fact that her ‘gentil heart’ seeks lust and not the typical romantic love shown in a traditional courtly love tale. Whilst on the surface May is presented as ‘faire fresshe’ and having a ‘gentil’ heart in this passage, this passage is perhaps notable for the development of the ironic and satirical purpose of her character.

I like it a lot – plenty of AO2 emerging and a clear understanding of how iambic pentameter works in the trochaic substitution comment. Is there enough explicit ‘typicality’ here?

What of this one?

“IN LINES 943 – 999, HOW ARE THE CHARACTERS OF JANUARIE AND MAY REPRESENTED?” 

   Towards the end of the fabliau, the titular characters of Januarie and May can be seen to develop and change. It is the setting that aids their ever-changing representation, as well as events that have taken place before they enter the “gardyn.” The garden is successful in satirizing that of the Garden of Eden ironically, [considering the acts of debauchery and adultery that occur within it.is it ironic? It is a satire, so I would expect something of this kind. ] Despite the negative connotations of the irony of the garden, Januarie appears to show, maturity, pragmatism and affection towards May, and in contrast she betrays him with the “lechour in the tree,” Damyan. 

   At this point Januarie is as “blynd as a stoon,” and walks into the garden with May in “hand.” It can be argued that Januarie has been ‘metaphorically’blind throughout the whole poem, as he has not recognised the deceptive nature of May and Damyan. Januarie and May enter into, what is called, the “fresshe gardyn.” Considering “fresshe” is frequently tied to the character of May, the irony that Chaucer wishes to create is apparent, as only filthy acts of sexual corruption occur in the garden, at the hand of Januarie or Damyan, or later at the command of May. The idea also makes May assume the role of Eve, and insinuates that she could become impregnated in the garden, but is unclear who. This represents May as an important character, as she is the one who could continue Januarie’s line as he wishes her to, but due to the debauched nature of the garden, it is unclear how this will be achieved.

    While Januarie displays a genuine affection for May in this passage, she can be viewed in the opposite, and therefore negative, light. Januarie initially wanted to marry to ensure that his acts of debauchery were not judged negatively, as they would have been permitted within the “bond” of marriage. However, by declaring that May is the “creature that I best love,” Januarie appears to have cast his old desires aside, and appreciates May’s presence as well as her beauty. Januarie would rather “dyen on a knyf” than “offende” his “deere wife.” The rhyme and iambic stress of the couplet emphasises his strong feelings for May, and makes it clear that he does have genuine affection for her, and doesn’t just view her as a sexual plaything. However, sexual undertones can still be detected with the use of “dyen,” which could be a reference to the orgasm, as well as “knyf,” which on their wedding night was used to label Januarie’s genitalia. This could be perfectly innocent and accidental, but does make the reader consider whether Januarie could ever fully purge his desires. This quote is also relevant to May, as it is she who will wield the ‘knife’ as she is about to stab Januarie in the back, as she is soon to betray him with Damyan up the pear tree. Their roles have appeared to change since their marriage, as it is now May who has the power to inflict such pain on Januarie. She does not escape the label of the adulteress because of this, unlike Januarie who can be seen to change and show his wife genuine affection. [Well written, though I would like you to be clearer about the atypical presentation of Januarie here.]

    Januarie can also be seen to be thinking about the future of himself and his family. Januarie is seen to trust May so much that he “chartres a yow leste.” He makes her heir to his estate and promises that this will be complete “sonne reste.” The rhyme and iambic stress of the couplet emphasises the significance and the importance of this action. He asks that she kisses him to seal the “covenant,” and this also can be seen as a small act of affection. Although this seems to be a normal act between a husband and wife, as they share everything, Januarie could be seen to be attempting to buy the loyalty of May with his belongings and wealth. This could be one of the reasons she agreed to marry Januarie, and if Chaucer considered this idea, it inspires pity from the audience for Januarie, as he appears to be so desperate for companionship. He can be seen to be thinking of the future of his belongings and heritage here, as he has assigned them to May. This is just as Justinus warned. At the beginning of the fabliau Januarie noted that a positive feature of marriage is that it could result in an heir for himself, and when listing the reasons why May should be “trewe,” he mentions “myn heritage.” Januarie is also thinking about the future of his family line, and is hoping for a legitimate heir. He acknowledges that if May were unfaithful he would be raising an illegitimate child. [ I’d like to see a little more context emerging.  The AO2 is excellent and well considered…]

    Januarie is also represented as a mature and repentant character. He apologises to May if he seems “jalous,” and encourages her to take no notice of it. Januarie appears to realise that he does not want to lose May, as he is increasingly old and lonely. He later frankly tells her that her “beautee” is unparalleled to the “unlikely elde of me.” The contrast of “beautee” and “me” emphasises the difference in age and appearance of Januarie and May, and insinuates that Januarie does realise that he was wrong in marrying her. The rhyme and emphasis on “beautee” reminds the reader of what attracted May to Januarie, but it is now used in a different context, and not one that is concerned with sexual attraction but more her “compaignye.” This further emphasies the fact that Januarie doesn’t want to lose May, and that perhaps going blind has made him realise this even more, as without her he will have absolutely nothing. He appears to mature, which encourages sympathy for him from the audience, as just when he appears to be genuine, May proceeds to be more deceptive than ever.[ Contextual humour found in old/young marriage plots from drama back to 4C,BC]

 While May is represented as a slowly maturing character, May is represented as the stereotypical conniving adulteress, perhaps because it was Eve who sinned and ate the forbidden fruit first. The Merchant was correct in saying that marriage causes “wepying,” in the prologue, but May’s “wepe” is seen in a much more deceptive light. She is aware that Damyan is present, and further wishes to deceive Januarie. The use of “benyngely” also hints at her deception, as the word is commonly used when she is thinking about Damyan. She notes that her “wyfhod” is like a “tender flour.” This is ironic, as flowers can be cut and destroyed, much like her “honour” and virtue. In a hyperbolic fashion, she claims that if she does “lak” virtue, Januarie should “strepe me and put me in a sak.” This rhyme emphasises her dishonour and lies, and insinuates that she should be thrown into a sack, as she does lack honour. Her declaration that she is no “wenche” is humourous for the audience, as they understand the dramatic irony behind Chaucer’s words. As Januarie is a poor judge of character, and responds well to flattery, as seen in his conversation with Placebo, Januarie believes the deceptions and lies of May. However, one could argue that it would be foolish for her to behave any other way, as she would not want to become a social outcast because of her adultery.

    After insinuating that women are untrue and can be unfaithful, May is represented as offended, and takes considerable action in response. Januarie previously listed the reasons why May should be true to him, which could imply that he is aware of her adultery. May seems offended that he would even allude to such a thing, and claims that “men been evere untrewe.” As men have always been unfaithful, May argues that Januarie has “noon oother countenance,” or reason to accuse her. It would have been more serious for May to become pregnant by Damyan, as the baby would be illegitimate. However, if Januarie was adulterous and fathered a child, the baby would still have his blood, and therefore could be seen as legitimate. This is the reason why it was more serious for a woman to be adulterous, and it is this idea, coupled with Janurie’s desire for an heir that makes him list the reasons why she should be faithful to him, which clearly offends her, and could explain her next actions.

    Immediately after this, May notices Damyan. She “saugh” him, and with a “cough” and “sygnes”

 45 MINUTES

 he understands that she wants him to get up the tree. May is represented here as a sexually corrupt character, as it is she who is commanding and orchestrating the affair. She is totally in control of Damyan, and takes advantage of Januarie’s vulnerability, which makes her seem even more cruel, especially as he has begun to show genuine affection for her. The speed in which she signals Damyan to get up the tree emphasises the desire that she “longeth” and has for him. The fact that the “fruyt” on the tree are pears also emphases her corruption, as they have the appearance of the scrotum. [Rather an abrupt statement which suggests yourt thoughts rather than an awareness of medieval plant lore.]

Januarie’s insinuation of her adultery could be the reason she speedily signals Damyan, as she may wish to get back at him for his assumptions, as well as the grievances she has also suffered with him, such as their wedding night. Whether this be true or not, it is clear that May is represented as an increasingly sexually corrupt and cruel character.

    Both Januarie and May appear to develop in this passage, and can be seen to change in contrasting ways. Januarie’s growing maturity and acceptance of his own actions allow the reader to sympathise with him more, especially as May appears to be more deceptive than ever as she continues her adulterous affair.

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Jerusalem (Butterworth) feeling the ‘beat’ extracts

6 extracts pdf’d for students to work on to disucss the significance of the Beats as outlined in this post.

new doc 2017-04-03 18.57.33

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Jerusalem (Butterworth): feel the ‘beat’

Following a comment by Martin Robinson in his excellent presentation at Research Ed: Language, I am going to engage students with some specific focus on the ‘Beat’ stage direction which appears throughout the text.

Students can be confused by a text which contains both the word ‘pause’ and the word ‘beat’ in stage directions.  We need to explore what the play-write intends by the altogether stronger word.

Robinson was very clear: the BEAT suggests a pause of enough significance to show a shift in the prevailing atmosphere of any scene.  Something is different, in other words, because of the beat. I thought I would look at  a couple of sequences from the beginning of the play and in the lesson, ivite lower 6th boys to focus on 1 or 2 beats and explore the possible shifts.

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This is the first meeting between Johnny and Ginger, his loyal sidekick. The atmosphere is still light – the previous scene has seen Johnny thwarting the jobsworths from the council imitating a dog -Shep- and generally establishing himself as the Lord of Misrule   – filthy language and spectacular drinking habits.  Ginger enters and asks about the detritus-strewn setting. For the audience this is the next humorous encounter, but after the initial sparring – 4 lines of stichmythia – something alters.  The audience need to notice that Ginger has challenged the veracity of Johnny’s position and that Johnny does not like it.

At this stage not much comes of it, but the line ‘It was a gathering’ must be more significant than a simple exercise in telling the truth: it establishes several things:

  • Johnny does not like being challenged directly
  • Ginger is aggrieved and feels let down by Johnny
  • Johnny does not expect to be further challenged and feels that his position of power is undermined.

He moves on and avoids confrontation by claiming a headache and his intrerrupted ‘Ginger-‘ at the foot of the page suggests something of a backing down and will lead to the Girls Aloud story and the establishing of the ‘sexual prowess’ myth.

A little later in the scene we read

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Here the same thing happens again – Johnny is making his excuses and devising stories to aggrandise his behaviour and Ginger challenges him with the bald statement ‘that’s not the fracas I’m talking about’. Once again Johnny is on the back foot and Butterworth wants us to notice this as significant. As the scene moves on, it is Ginger who tells the tale and it is one that does not show Johnny as a ‘Hero’. Half way through there is another ‘beat’. This one establishes the humour of the scene – the ever more hyperbolic stories all leading to the fracas – but also draws attention to another element of Johnny’s character – Johnny as a feral being with the morals and responses not of society but of an animal. This is not just adulterous sex, but it is sex with the wife of a soldier away serving his country. We laugh, but we notice.

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In the pair of pages above we read a typically fast-paced passage of stichomyhia ending in the beat as the Professor tries to get Johnny to simply say ‘Ginger’s a DJ’ to keep the peace. The passage has moved quickly with Ginger clearly desperate for Johnny to give him this affirmation.  As the squabble breaks down to childish proportions, so the pace builds and the tension increases.  The beat allows for a pause, but one which has weight. As we turn the page, Johnny remains silent and Ginger: ‘(points to Johnny) You’re a cunt. (points to the professor) You I like.’

This moment, though designed to produce  laughter and signal Ginger’s defeat (Johnny may well have been saving this up after the challenges already discussed), is echoed at the end of the play: ‘Once a cunt, always a cunt’ says Ginger as he leaves the stage. Ginger is Johnny’s only loyal disciple, but here we see him emotionally respond to Johnny’s cruelty and use the taboo language as a weapon, rather as punctuation in banter.  The audience laugh but will also recognise Ginger’s hurt. The second half of the quotation shows him restoring his equilibrium and coming back for more. This is significant and will not happen at the end of the play.

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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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