You are on page 1of 3



1. The plot pattern of the Rival Brothers: according to Ted Hughes, Shakespeare resolves to
investigate mans tragic crime against himself and his brothers. Discuss the way this motif
is developed in Shakespeares Richard III and King Lear.
2. The theme of conscience in Shakespeares plays: Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, Henry
V, King Lear. Choose two or three.
3. Explain the terms dominator mind and dominator morality used in Riane Eislers study
The Chalice and the Blade. How can Eislers theories contribute to understanding
Shakespeares criticism of the Western patriarchal culture? Illustrate your argument by
referring to two plays of your choice.
4. Patriarchal hero estranged from his soul: start your essay by referring to Shakespeares
poem Venus and Adonis and Ted Hughes interpretation of its main motifs. Use Hughes
insights to discuss the characterization of some of Shakespeares male protagonists (Richard
II, Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, King Learchoose two.)
5. According to Shakespeare and E. Bond, is evil inherent in human nature? Start your
discussion by outlining the main argument in Bonds preface to Lear. Illustrate your
conclusions by referring to two plays of your choice.
6. Explain what T. S. Eliot means by Shakespeares historical sense. Which play, in your
opinion, illustrates most clearly Shakespeares understanding of the history of Europe and
some of its persistent destructive and self-destructive tendencies?
7. The betrayal of/by women in Shakespeare: Anne, Margaret, Goneril, Regan...(Gertrude,
Ophelia...) Compare the ways in which these female characters betray their lovers/husbands
or their own capacity for love and suggest the possible causes. Compare also the response of
the male protagonists (Richard III, king Lear...). How would you describe the responses of the
men involved (cynicism, vengefulness, despair, manipulation, scorn)? Compare the
responses and decide how justified they are. Do they see the root of the problem?

8. Discuss N. Frye's claim that ''every liberating myth tends to eventually end up as a
totalitarian dogma'' (The Critical Path) and apply it in your discussion of Shakespeare and the
Renaissance heritage. Illustrate your conclusions by refering to two plays of your choice.
9. Discuss the conflict between the political and personal sphere of Shakespeare's rulers (pay
special attention to the resolution of the dilemma between public duty and private moral
principles). Comment on Kantorowicz's concept of the king's two bodies. Do Shakespeare's
rulers suffer from ''the dissociation of sensibility'' (Eliot)? Why? Refer to two (or more) plays
of your choice.
10. Discuss the ''might is right'' policy. Apply your critical insights in the interpretation of
Shakespeares Machiavellian characters (Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, Edmund choose
three). Does Shakespeare offer a valid alternative to power-craving aspirations of his
Machiavellian characters?
11. Stephen Greenblatt claims that the Renaissance social institutions shaped, restricted and
controlled an individuals conduct, whereby every attempt at subverting the dominant system
was doomed to failure. Do you approve of this statement? Do Shakespeares plays represent a
glorification or subversion of the dominant Tudor ideology? (Choose two plays of your
choice). Refer to Grenblatts essay Invisible Bullets in your discussion.
13. Discuss the relevance of marginal characters in Shakespeare (First and Second Murderer
in Richard III, common soldier Williams in Henry V, three unnamed servants in King Lear...).
Compare the attitude of the male protagonists (Richard III, Henry V, king Lear...) towards the
marginal characters. Do they see the root of the problem?
14. Tis the times plague when madmen lead the blind: Madness and Blindness in
Shakespeare's King Lear and Bond's Lear.
15. Brotherhood vs. Hierarchy in Henry V: refer to the critical insights of Greenblatt,
Dollimore and Sinfield and Fernie in your discussion. Is Shakespeare our contemporary?
16. Richard III: deformity of the body refl

ecting deformity of the mind. Refer to the critical insights of Machiavelli, Bacon, Eliot,
Yung... in your discussion. According to Shakespeare, is evil inherent in human nature?
17. Conflict between self-interest and ethical principles: compare the scene with the two
murderers in Richard III (I, iv) with Pinter's two hitmen Ben and Gus. Discuss Eliot's concept
of historical sense. Is Shakespeare our contemporary?