Below are a series of screenshots from our work this morning, where we deconstructed ‘Othello’ for revision purposes. We’ll add key quotations to this work in our next lesson. It’s also worth adopting this approach to ‘Frankenstein’ and Seamus Heaney as it helps you to break down the work into manageable chunks. Apart from the screenshot on ‘context’, each screenshot has an associated audio file which exemplifies the central teaching and learning points for revision purposes.
Heaney’s translation of Gile na Gile, an “aisling” poem written in Irish by Aodhgan O’Rathaille was published exclusively in Index on Censorship magazine, September 1998. Heaney’s commentary and translation are below.
Brightening brightness, alone on the road, she appears,
Crystalline crystal and sparkle of blue in green eyes,
Sweetness of sweetness in her unembittered young voice
And a high colour dawning behind the pearl of her face.
Ringlets and ringlets, a curl in every tress
Of her fair hair trailing and brushing the dew on the grass;
And a gem from her birthplace far in the high universe
Outglittering glass and gracing the groove of her breasts.
News that was secret she whispered to soothe her aloneness,
News of one due to return and reclaim his true place,
News of the ruin of those who had cast him in darkness,
News that was awesome, too awesome to utter in verse.
My head got lighter and lighter but still I approached her,
Enthralled by her thraldom, helplessly held and bewildered,
Choking and calling Christ’s name: then she fled in a shimmer
To Luachra Fort where only the glamoured can enter.
I hurtled and hurled myself madly following after
Over keshes and marshes and mosses and treacherous moors
And arrived at that stronghold unsure about how I had got there,
That earthwork of earth the orders of magic once reared.
A gang of thick louts were shouting loud insults and jeering
And a curly-haired coven in fits of sniggers and sneers:
Next thing I was taken and cruelly shackled in fetters
As the breasts of the maiden were groped by a thick-witted boor.
I tried then as hard as I could to make her hear truth,
How wrong she was to be linked to that lazarous swine
When the pride of the pure Scottish stock, a prince of the blood,
Was ardent and eager to wed her and make her his bride.
When she heard me, she started to weep, but pride was the cause
Of those tears that came wetting her cheeks and shone in her eyes;
Then she sent me a guard to guide me out of the fortress,
Who’d appeared to me, lone on the road, a brightening brightness.
Calamity, shock, collapse, heartbreak and grief
To think of her sweetnes, her beauty, her mildness, her life
Defiled at the hands of a hornmaster sprung from riff-raff,
And no hope of redress till the lions ride back on the wave.
Aodhgan O’Rathaille, translated by Seamus Heaney
The Glamoured is my translation of Gile na Gile (literally Brightness of Brightness), one of the most famous Irish poems of the early eighteenth century. It is a classic example of a genre know as the aisling (pronounced ashling) which was as characteristic of Irish language poetry in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as rhymed satire was in England at the same time.
The aisling was in effect a mixture of samizdat and allegory, a form which mixed political message with passionate vision. After the devastations and repressions brought about by the armies of Oliver Cromwell and King William, the native Irish population became subject to the Penal Laws, a system of legislation as deliberately conceived as apartheid, enacted against them specifically as Catholics by the Irish parliament (representing the ‘Protestant interest’ which took control after William of Orange’s victory over the forces of the Catholic Stuart king, James II, at the Battle of the Boyne). The native Irish aristocracy fled – and were ever afterwards know as The Wild Geese – and dreams of redress got transferred into poetry.
Politically, the aisling kept alive the hope of a Stuart restoration which would renew the fortunes of the native Irish. Symbolically, this was expressed in the ancient form of a dream encounter in which the poet meets a beautiful woman in some lonely place. This woman is at one and the same time an apparition of the spirit of Ireland and a muse figure who entrances him completely. She inevitably displays signs of grief and tells a story of how she is in thrall to some heretical foreign brute, but the poem usually ends with a promise — which history will not fulfil — of liberation in the form of a Stuart prince coming to her relief from beyond the seas.
Aodhgan O’Rathaille (1675-1729) is one of the last great voices of the native Irish tradition, Dantesque in his anger and hauteur, a voice crying in the more or less literal wilderness of the Gaelic outback, at once the master of outrage and the witness of desolation.
Seamus Heaney, Index on Censorship, September 1998
Samizdat– The clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by the state, especially formerly in the communist countries of eastern Europe.
Please note the resources, task sheet and exemplar responses below. Use them to gain ideas, inspiration and to guide your thinking on how to approach this task.
And copies of task sheets (both for the creative- oral and the creative- written):
Please note the task sheets for the Creative Oral and Creative Written below. These are taken from last year and need to be edited to reflect the weightings for this year’s course but the task sheet and marking keys remain the same.
Download these to your device and make sure you understand the nature of these tasks. I will clarify expectations and answer questions in our next lesson.
Your attention is drawn to the two documents below. Please download them and refer to them in your planning.
Of particular note is the glossary found at the back of the syllabus document. Please make sure you retain a copy of this as it contains definitions of key terms used throughout the course.
Please make sure you download the modelled examples below to your device. They are designed to demonstrate the process by which we arrive at an effective body paragraph.
- Stage 1- Question Deconstruction
- Stage 2- Planning and Arriving at a Proposition
- Stage 3- Writing an Effective Body Paragraph
Hopefully the images themselves are self-explanatory. Instead of summarising my teaching and learning points by writing them down, I’ve summarised them in an audio file which appears underneath the relevant screenshot from my whiteboard.
I hope this makes sense.
Stage One- Question Deconstruction
Stage Two- Planning Towards a Proposition
Stage Three- Towards a Body Paragraph
Explore the conversation between Iago, Emilia and Desdemona in more detail.
What does this extract from the scene reveal about:
- Iago’s view of women- is this light-hearted or does the humour reveal something of his misogyny?
- What is the dramatic potential here for this extract from the scene? What purpose does it function in terms of Iago’s character construction?
- The extract also reveals something about Desdemona’s character. How does this present to the audience a more rounded sense of who she is?
- What might a gendered reading of this extract reveal about attitudes towards women?
- What role does Emilia play in this extract? What might her reaction to Iago’s provocations reveal about the nature of her relationship with him?