Monday 18 December 2017


Section 1: Drama

In studying the seen drama sections:

›Know the central plot, the opening scenes, and the conflict between central characters, the climax in the play and how it is resolved.

›The development of the central characters.

›The central themes.

Production staff and actors: In bringing drama to life, you need to first consider the role of those behind the scenes. The director has overall responsibility for the performance.

The stage manager is responsible for the setting, the props, costumes and sound effects.

The costume designer has overall responsibility for the lighting and design of the stage.

Look at the following:

1.What types of stage design would suit the performance?

2.What costumes and design would be needed? Costumes tell us not only about the status of individual characters but also their state of mind. Distressed characters could be dressed in a chaotic fashion highlighting their inner turmoil.

3.How could the actors be positioned on stage? The level of positioning has to match the quality of two characters relationship. In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Shylock and Antonio loathed each other. It is unlikely they ever stood close to each other.

4.Focus on what he audience will see. Lighting can be linked to symbolism. Would the props have a deeper significance?

Questions on the seen drama, 2006

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare:

'Plays teach us about life'

Choose any play you have studied and explain how it has made you aware of any one of the following: Love or death or conflict or harmony.

The play I have chosen is The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. This play has made me aware of conflict and its dangers. In this play, there is a dangerous conflict between the Jew, Shylock, the outsider in Venice and the Venetian merchant, Antonio. Shylock stands for everything that Antonio hates. It is a very toxic relationship where both have strong motives for hating each other. This teaches me very important lessons about life. It is dangerous to have a grudge against anyone. From Shylock we learn that we can lose what we hold dear because we let our hatred blind our judgements

Shylock's hatred towards Antonio is deep-seated. Antonio lends money without interest in an attempt as Shylock sees it, to ruin his business. He is also willing to insult him in public by spitting at him and calling Shylock a dog. "You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog/And spat upon my Jewish gabardine." This teaches many lessons about life; agan how we let our hatred govern our judgements. Shylock is revengeful. In his aside, he states how "like a fawning publican he looks/ I hate him for he is a Christian." He despises the way Antonio lends money "gratis" thus making it difficult for Shylock's business to survive. He hopes to catch Antonio upon the 'hip' and this will enable him to 'feed fat' the ancient grudge he bears him. This teaches us the extent some people will go to satisfy their revenge.

Shylock's revenge against Antonio is counterproductive. This is best demonstrated in the Trial Scene. At first, it seemed as if Shylock would win. Antonio feels he is about to die. Shakespeare keeps the tension and suspense. Antonio is inconsolable; "I am tainted wether of the flock, meekest for death.' Shylock sharpens his knife for Antonio's flesh. Portia contends that Shylock is within his rights but he could be merciful. Shylock is full of praise for this wise young judge and refuses higher payment. Just at the moment when it appears to be all over for Antonio, Shylock is about to lose everything. As Shylock prepares to cut his pound of flesh, Portia warns him that should Shylock shed "one drop of Christian blood' then all his property will be confiscated. This teaches us that revenge is counter-productive.

Through the characterisation of Shylock and Antonio, Shakespeare has taught us that conflict will destroy lives.

In all drama:

ΩThe development of the characters is the means by which the playwright tells the story. They can be the hero or the heroine in the play. Their action is central in propelling the plot onto a further stage. In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet both fit this role. Notice how in certain key scenes Romeo changes his role from peacemaker to offender in the space of a few seconds. Romeo feels that Mercutio died saving his honour and that he must now fight to prove that his love for Juliet has not softened him. He kills Tybalt in fury. However, he is aware of the consequences of this violent action when he declares himself "fortunes fool."

ΩThe villain or antagonist has a role in making it difficult for the hero or heroine. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt fitted this role.

ΩThe dialogue is central in driving the plot forward.

ΩSometimes you have the thoughts of one central character in a soliloquy. Through this process, the audience knows a character's secrets.

ΩIn relationships, we learn what other characters say about each other.

ΩReview openings and endings: Juliet and Romeo manage to do in death what they failed to achieve in life; end the feud between their respective families. In grief, Capulet and Montague join hands and resolve to become friends by commemorating statues for the 'poor sacrifices of our enmity.' This highlights the deep division between these warring families is now at an end.

Section 2: Poetry

There is a craft to writing which you will need to develop. You have studied a wide variety of poetry over three years but you must make it fit the question asked. The horrors of World War One is relived for us through Wilfred Owen's descriptive poem Dulce et Decorum est (Sweet and honourable it is to die for one's country)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick boys - An ecstasy of fumbling

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And floundr'ing like a man in fire or lime…

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before the helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs

Obscene as cancer, bitter as a cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues-

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen was graphically familiar with the horror of war on levels we can only just begin to understand. Some 100 years on from the horror of the First World War, this poem is a testament to the fruitless lives which were lost in conflict. Wilfred Owen died in the conflict but his words live on to tell his tale.

This poem paints a very bleak view of the battlefield. The young soldiers act and behave like old men. "Bent double, like beggars under sacks" The harrowing experiences of war have taken its toll on these men. The words chosen to convey this are emotive "All went lame/all blind" Their sense of time and space has broken down. The constant bombardment of heavy gunfire is deafening and soul-destroying. There is no glory in the soldiers' pain.

The harrowing and heart wrenching account of the death of one soldier highlights Wilfred's skills as a poet. The verbs powerfully convey the poor soldier's last moment almost like an act in a drama. "He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. The poet is powerless to assist the dying soldier in his hour of need. The agony of the soldier's last moments are movingly conveyed for us to visualise the event 100 years on. The poet watched his "white eyes writhing in his face" He has inhaled too much gas. It is a harrowing moment. His lungs were described as "froth corrupted" and he is gasping for breath. The word "cancer" suggests the extent of his condition and his diseased body. The gas attack has left this man powerless and left his comrades unable to assist him. The frightening nature of the moment is conveyed by the way he was so callously flung onto the wagon.

The death of this young soldier creates the pathos for this poem. There was nothing sweet and honourable about dying for one's country; if anything, it was a harrowing and deeply isolating moment. Through this poem Wilfred challenged the authorities to think again about their conduct of the war and their role in the lives of thousands of young lives on the torturous battlefield. This poem is as moving for us now as it was then.

Section 3: Fiction

Fiction is creating drama through the printed word. It includes short stories and novels. In answering this question, you will need to include:

ΩThe plot

ΩThe theme

ΩThe style of writing

ΩThe narrator

When answering a question on character look at the following aspects:

1.What do the characters do?

2.What do the characters say?

3.What is the relationship between the characters?

4.Who is the narrator, the writer or a character in the story?

Fiction is imagined narrative. All good works of fiction have an effective plot structure, a descriptive backdrop or setting, create an effective mood and create memorable characters

One of the popular texts on the Junior Certificate course is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the aspects of this novel that makes it intriguing is the title itself. Like any good novelist, the title sets the tone for the story itself. The mockingbird is a finch with a beautiful song which mimics the tune of the other birds. Atticus, the force for good in this novel, emphasises the point that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Scout realises that the exposure of Boo Radley at the end of the novel would be like shooting a mockingbird. Both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson have mockingbird traits in terms of their innocence, kindness and vulnerability.

Good luck to you all in your Junior Certificate exams.

Irish Independent

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