Tuesday, June 24, 2008

King Lear F Bombs


I find this unit interesting its discussion of cursing in Shakespeare, most notably since he doesn't go for the obvious Taming of the Shrew or Romeo and Juliet, but rather King Lear!  First he presents some Lear style "cursing" (whoreson, knave, etc...) and then gets into his students' own "street" rewriting.  It's personally not to my taste, I don't think you have to sprinkle liberally with swears to get your point across, but who knows, maybe that's exactly how his kids talk in their regular life?  There's discussion at the end, too.  For instance in one Cordelia rewrite she drops an f-bomb while talking to her dad, and people question whether that's realistic for her character.


Warning, if it wasn't obvious - dirty words abound.


Clay Burell said...


Glad you found it interesting. As you suggest in your conclusion, the idea was to get the students to read Lear closely by translating him into "street" language, and thereby come to grips with all the syntactic and lexical difficulties WS poses to high school readers. The cursing, as you note as well, was just a bit of fun seduction to keep them from noticing all the analysis they were doing at the same time.

A school exercise, it never really hoped to be published. Much of it made me wince. But they learned :)

Ian Thal said...

Actually, I found that telling teenagers that they are reading 400 year old profanity gets them more interested in the characters, story, and language than, they would, if I start them off by talking about iambic pentameter, structure and poetry or about how much of an innovator he is in theatrical history. It becomes something they can relate to-- especially when I suggest that WS was the most inventive writer of profanity of all time.