Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A.P. Literature Is Flipping a Coin: April 21, 2015

Focus: Why is Tom Stoppard interested in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

1. Warming up with the flip of a coin:

a. Take a coin and flip it in the air 20 times. Record how many times it comes up heads, and how many times it comes up tails. Interpret/explain the results.

b. Now, imagine that you take a quarter (a normal quarter) and flip it in the air twenty times. If it were to come up heads each time, would you be surprised? Why or why not? In your opinion, is the world generally an orderly or a disorderly place?

c. How would Samuel Beckett explain the imaginary phenomenon above?

2. Speeding up: Here's what you need to know about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet...
  • In Hamlet, they are minor characters and spend the vast majority of the play offstage.
  • They're supposed to be Hamlet's friends, but they're really being used to spy on him.
  • Near the end of the play, they ride on a boat from Denmark to England with Hamlet; they have sealed orders from King Claudius to the King of England, requesting that the King of England kill Hamlet.
  • Hamlet, however, changes the note so that the orders are to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which the King of England carries out when they arrive in England.
  • The action in the two bullet points above all takes place offstage in Hamlet and is merely reported by Fortinbras at the end of the play.

3. Acting out the beginning of Act One in R&G Are Dead
  • Pre-reading: What's the significance of the title?
As we read, keep a log in your composition book of this play's use of extended metaphors:
  • Where do you see elements of Absurdism/Existentialism?
  • Which objects seem to serve as metaphors? What larger ideas do they stand for and how?
  • What connections to Waiting for Godot are you noticing?
4. Wrapping up: Find one brief passage from our reading today, copy it into your composition notebook, and perform a close reading on it. Feel free to include questions as well.

If you'd like feedback on your brainstorming, outlining, and drafting, please send me an e-mail with your specific inquiries. If you just Google share a document with me, I'm not sure what you'd like help with.

New final due date: April 27 (however, if you turn yours in early, it will be the first one graded and returned).

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