Choose ONE of the prompts below, but take note of the following: 1) If you answer the same question about the same play as 3 of your peers before you, a 10 point penalty will apply. 2) If you respond to the same prompt about the same play as 2 of your peers before you, a 5 point penalty will apply. 3) If you tackle a different question about a play already discussed by 3 other students, a 5 point penalty will apply, Please do NOT summarize the entire play. Focus only on those plot details and elements of characterization that pertain to the question. At least one of your shorter/collaborative posts should be about a different play than your initially selected one.
If “poetry is life distilled” (Gwendolyn Brooks), drama, for Alfred Hitchcock, is “life with the dull bits left out.” Discuss how–or if–this holds true for any of the plays we have read this week. Which play is the most compelling and why? Which play also appeals to a poetic sensibility? Be sure to point to specific elements, such as conflict, dialogue, setting, stage directions, symbolism, figurative language, etc. in support of your evaluation.
Read Elif Bautman’s piece, “Can Greek Tragedy Get Us Through the Pandemic?”, recently published in The New Yorker, which discusses the virtual performance of Oedipus the King put on via Zoom by Theater of War Productions in the context of the current pandemic. Share at least 3 take-aways from this article–key ideas that stood out to you and that help deepen your understanding of Sophocles’ tragedy. Pay attention to how Bautman accounts for the contemporary relevance of events (the plague), phenomena (contagion, trauma, hysteria, healing, repression, defense mechanisms, etc.) and relationships (parents and children, rulers and subjects), as portrayed by Sophocles and re-presented by this theatrical company.
Put one character on trial for “crimes” he or she has committed in one of the plays we have read in this unit. What motivates this character? Point to specific moments in the play to make your case against this character. Then consider briefly the arguments that could be made by the defense, marshaling evidence (details and quotations) to back up this opposing argument.
Take just a single line or sentence from a play, one that stands out for some reason as greatly important. Perhaps it states a theme, reveals a character, or serves as a crisis (or turning point). For instance, in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, when the county attorney tells the sheriff, “You’re convinced that there was nothing important here—nothing to point to any motive,” we begin to understand what he seeks. Choosing a similar line, demonstrate its importance by explaining how it functions/resonates in the play as a whole.
Some critics say that the essence of drama is conflict, the central struggle between two or more forces in the play. Which of the three plays we have read in this unit is the richest in this essential? Defend your answer by identifying the play’s protagonist and antagonist and describing the nature of their struggle (what it stems from, how it fuels the plot, and how this conflict is resolved—or not).
Identify and analyze the types of irony in any of the plays we have read in this unit. Try to relate this element to the play as a whole. Recall that dramatic irony results from a discrepancy between what the character knows and what the audience knows. Verbal irony also involves a contrast between what is said on the surface and what is really meant. In situational irony, there is a contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually occurs.
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