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Allusions Booklet | Introduction to Macbeth

Emily Prentice | Friday September 28, 2018

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, AQA GCSE English Literature 2015, Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel, EDEXCEL GCSE, Edexcel GCSE English Literature 2015, Component 1: Shakespeare and Post-1914 Literature , EDEXCEL iGCSE, EDEXCEL iGCSE English Literature, Paper 1 Prose and Drama, 9-1 IGCSE, 9-1 IGCSE English Literature, IGCSE English Literature CIE 0477, IGCSE English Literature Edexcel, OCR GCSE, OCR GCSE English Literature 2015, Component 02: Exploring Poetry and Shakespeare, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE English Language 2015, WJEC Eduqas GCSE English Literature 2015, Component 1: Shakespeare and Poetry, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Plays, Shakespeare - Other Activities and Resources

For resources described in this introduction please see the end of this page

Do You Know What You Don’t Know, And Know Why You Need To Know It?

It’s a family dinner. We’re talking about the new CCTV cameras that have been installed by the bus stop. ‘Remember, Big Brother is watching,’ warns my dad. My little sister gives him a stare. ‘I didn’t know you watched Big Brother dad?’ she asks. My sister isn’t one for reading. She has watched Big Brother, and enjoyed it, without ever connecting it to the Orwellian dystopian novel. She enjoys the television show, she can follow it, she is entirely unaware of all of the references to the different parts of the novel that are referenced in the programme.

How can we be expected to know what we don’t know? The whole point is, we don’t know it.

There are definitely things that surprise me when I discover students don’t know them. I was doing some one to one work with a student in year eleven. We were recapping Act One of Macbeth. We had just had Easter week, and I knew she was a practising Catholic. The school was Roman Catholic. I was quietly confident that she would get the Golgotha reference.

Blank expression. A bit like when a cartoon squirrel is thinking about where the nuts could be.

It was at that point I started collecting bits and pieces on the allusions in Macbeth. To double triple check that they did know these things that I thought that they knew.

The importance of teaching these allusions is initially ensures that they grasp the meaning of the words of the text. Shakespeare is complex enough without adding in references to places and people they haven’t heard of.

Using the Golgotha example, we can see how the connection go Jesus’ death totally alters the meaning of the worn-out soldier’s words.

As cannons overcharged with double cracks,

So they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.

Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,

Or memorize another Golgotha,

I cannot tell—...


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