18 April. Country Wife Acts, 4 & 5

  • 1. Even though she admits to Lucy, her maid that she is in love with Harcourt, why won’t Alithea break off her engagement to Sparkish? How does Lucy respond?
  • 2. Why is Sparkish fooled when Harcourt disguises himself as Ned Harcourt, a chaplain from Cambridge? Is Wycherley making fun of disguise as a staging technique? Is he making fun of the church?
  • 3. How does Mr. Pinchwife attempt to figure out what really happened between Margery (Mrs. Pinchwife and Horner at the Exchange)?
  • 4. Does the play hold Pinchwife up as a villain or a character who possesses an excess of hatred for women? Compare his following discourse on love to the several instances in which Horner explains his motives for sleeping with as many ladies as possible (2.1.108-09 & 1.143-44):

    Love! ‘Twas he gave women first their craft, their art of deluding, Out of nature’s hands they came plain, open, silly and fit for slaves, as she and heaven intended’em, but damned Love—well—I must strangle that little monster whilst I can deal with him. (4.2.46-50)

  • 5.What letter does Pinchwife want Margery to write? What letter does she write and send to Horner (4.2.127-58)? Which letter is more successful and why OR how does Horner react (4.3.332-3)? Is the first letter we’ve seen all semester that was written by a women?
  • 6. Why do you think Wycherly stages this scene as he does—why hide Quack behind the screen? Why does he include the several exits and entrances? Why use china as a figure for sex (ex:4.2.182-86)? Besides cuckolding the men in town and taking his revenge against women, what else motivates Horner’s scheme according to this scene?
  • 7. Are Sparkish and Alithea married? Why/why not? Why does Sparkish believe Horner about Harcourt when he refuses to believe Alithea?
  • 8. How does Lucy trick Mr. Pinchwife into taking Mrs. Pinchwife to meet Horner? Why?
  • 9. What letter does Mr. Pinchwife give Sparkish at the top of 5.3?
  • 10. Why does Lucy orchestrate events to show that even Sparkish, and by extension, all men can become jealous?
  • 11.What does Horner, and by extension the audience, learn about women from the “virtuous gang” (5.3.88) and because he pretends to be “no man” (5.4.144)?
  • 12. Does Pinchwife really believe that Horner is impotent and never slept with his wife? In what double bind does Horner trap Mr. Pinchwife at the end of the play?

13 April. Country Wife, Acts 2 & 3

The Country Wife, Acts 2 & 3

  • 1. Of all the plays we’ve read so far this semester, which does The Country Wife mostly closely resemble? Why do you think some themes, performance techniques, modes of address survived and other did not?
  • 2. What does Mrs. Pinchwife like most about the play she saw? Why won’t Mr. Pinchwife take her to see another?
  • 3. What’s you assessment of Althea? How does she compare with other lady characters we seen so far this semester? How does she differ?
  • 4.In a footnote, our editor, James Ogdon, says, “Ralliery against marriage was so common among the wits as to have become unfashionable [by the 1670’s].” What critiques do the wits Harcourt, Sparkish, and Horner level against marriage? How do their critiques compare with the actual marriages acted out in this play? Does the play propose any alternatives to traditional marriage?
  • 5. Why do you think the scenes with Mr. and Mrs. Pinchwife bookend the scene where Harcourt and Althea meet for the first time?
  • 7. What social factors underwrite the following exchange:

    Lady Fidget: She says true! ‘Tis an arrant shame women of quality should be so slighted, Methinks, birth–birth should go for something. I have known men admired, courted, and followed for their titles only.

    Squemish: Ay, one would think men of honour should not love, no more than marry, out of their own rank.

    Dainty: Fie, Fie upon ’em! They are come to think cross-breeding for themselves best, as well as for their dogs and horses.

    Lady Fidget: They are dogs and horses for it!

  • 6. How does Lady Fidget react when she finds out about Horner’s ruse (2.1.503-509) 
  • 7.What disguise does Pinchwife ultimately decide to dress Mrs. Pinchwife in before the go out on the town (The New Exchange) so that “she may not be seen or known” (3.1.84)? How do the other gallants react when they see Mrs. Pinchwife in “breeches”?
  • 9. Why does Sparkish go see plays and then heckle the play so loudly from the pit that contends against the playwright for the audience’s attention?
  • 10. How does Harcourt use Sparkish to woo Althea? Does Sparkish realize he is being duped?
  • 11. Compare the image of swarms used twice in act 3 (3.2.27-13) and (3.2.166-70). Whom does the image describe and how does it get at the weird ways that gender works in this play?
  • 12.How/why does Horner “torment” Pinchwife at the end of act 3?

11 April. Witch, Act 5 & Country Wife, Act 1


Papers are due next Thursday, April 20 by 5:00.

You will all give your presentations on that date as well. I brought the presentation requirements inline with the final paper.

The Witch of Edmonton, Act 5

  • 1. Why doesn’t the Devil-Dog come when Elizabeth Sawyer calls him at the start of 5.1? How has changed when he finally does appear?
  • 2. Why does the Devil-Dog treat Cuddy Banks differently than he treats Sawyer?
  • 3. According to the Dog, why can devils “bestow [themselves] in such small bodies” (5.1.121)?
  • 4. Why does Cuddy pity the Dog and what sort of alternative lives does he imagine the Dog could lead instead?
  • 5. What crimes is Sawyer charged with and is she responsible for them?
  • 6. Why do Winfred, Old Thorny, and Old Cater forgive Frank at the end? Do you believe that Frank repents his choices as he claims when he says to Winfred and his father:

    Thou much wronged woman, I must sigh for thee
    As he that’s only loath to leave the world
    For that he leaves thee in it unprovided,
    Unfriended; and for me to beg a pity
    From any man to thee when I am gone
    I is more than I can hope; nor, to say truth,
    Have I deserved it. But there is a payment
    Belongs to goodness from the great exchequer
    Above; it will not fail thee, Winifred
    Be that thy comfort.

  • 7. What purpose does the Devil serve in culture OR does The Witch of Edmonton have a moral purpose?

English Civil War (1642-51), Interregnum (1653-1660), & the Restoration of the Monarchy (1660-1678)

James I and IV dies in 1625

Charles I succeeds his dad the same year

Then, in 1649 Charles I is executed in the Banqueting house his father commissioned Inigo Jones to build, and where both James I and Charles watched plays.

Oliver Cromwell, the Protectorate of the realm and head of the New Model Army rules the “commonwealth” of England, Ireland, and Scotland as a Republic from 1653-59

Then, in 1660, King Charles II, Charles I son, returns from exile in France and restores the monarchy to England ushering in a 20 year period of cultural production, of which William Wycherly’s The Country Wife is a famous example.

So what.. what effect did the Civil War, execution of Charles I, Protectorate, and Restoration of the monarch have on the theater?

  • 1. Theaters are closed from 1642 till 1660 because Puritan government thought the plays were licentious and immoral. Also, plague.
  • 2. Plays were not played publicly, but were played in private houses and roadside inns, and maybe at the colleges. Also, as The Witch of Edmonton demonstrates, the plays were published during the Republic.  
  • 3. While dour, the Republic period was kind-of good for (some) women, so when the theaters were reopened in 1660, women played women on stage for the first time. Also, Aphra Behn wrote and staged plays during the Restoration.
  • Two playhouses Drurey Lane and Dorset Gardens

The Libertine

The Country Wife, Act 1

  • 1. Why does Horner want to be “undone with women” (1.16) and how does he accomplish this goal? What story do Horner and Quack make up to support the claim that Horner is impotent?
  • 2. How do the character’s names describe their personalities?
  • 3. Why does Sir Jasper and Lady Fidget visit Horner? Why does Sir Jasper say “sir” so much?
  • 4. How do Horner’s friends, Harcourt and Dorilant, try to cheer him up? Are they successful?
  • 5. Why does Pinchwife marry a woman from the country?

4 April. Witch of Edmonton, Acts 3-4


Please bring paper drafts on Thursday, so we can workshop them!

The Witch of Edmonton, Acts 3-4

  • 1. Why does Cuddy Banks want to include a witch in the Morris Dance and why don’t the dancers have someone playing a witch already? How does this scene help us to read the rest of the play?
  • 2. Why does Cuddy follow the Devil-Dog, and where does the Dog lead him?
  • 3. Do you think Frank really plans to run away with Winifred? What does Susan request of disguised Winifred?
  • 4. Why does Frank kill Susan?
  • 5. What events break up the morris dance in 3.4?
  • 6. What methods do Old Banks and the Two or Three Countrymen use to prove Sawyer is a witch? What methods does the Justice use? Compare the methods, which works the best and why? What are witches OR what makes witches according to this play?
  • 7. What tasks has the Devil-Dog performed for Sawyer by the end of 4.1? Why do you think the authors contrast the “witch trial” sequence with the Anne Ratcliffe sequence?
  • 8. Why can’t the Devil-Dog harm Sir Arthur? How does his reluctance to harm Sir Arthur compare with his reluctance to harm Old Banks?
  • 9. How does Katherine discover that Frank Killed her sister Susan?


I’ll pass around the quizzes and then you will have 25 mins to complete them. All the questions are short answer. Your answers do not need to be incomplete sentences, and you do not need to include direct citations from the text.

30 March. Witch of Edmonton

Morris Dancing Woodcut of Will Kemp dancing from Oxford London (1600)

The Witch of Edmonton was likely written in 1620, played at the Cockpit (aka the Phoenix) by Prince Charles I’s Men in 1621 & Published in 1658.

Act 1

1. What is the devil? I he supernatural, the outward show of inward failings; OR cultural practices that result in “The misery of beggary and want” (1.1.17)?

2. How does Sir Arthur persuade Frank marry Winfred? Why does he want Frank to marry her? What does Sir Arthur expect from Winfred after she marries and how does she respond?

3. Why doesn’t Frank want his father to know he married Winfred? Whom does Frank’s father, Old Thorney, want Frank to marry and why?

4. Who else wants to marry Susan? Which of her two suitors is the best match?

5. How does Frank convince his father that he is free to marry Susan despite the fact that Old Thorney already heard Frank had married Winfred?

6. Frank offers the following comment in an aside at the close of first act: “No man can hide his shame form heaven that views him./In vain he flees whose destiny pursues him” (1.2.224-6). What does he mean? Does this philosophy structure the play that follows? How does this aside compare to major themes in Macbeth?

Act 2

6. Why does Elizabeth Sawyer decide to become a witch? How does she become a witch?

7. What is Morris dancing? How do the Morris dancers comment on the other ‘folk’ elements of the play?

8. What are the terms of Sawyer’s agreement with the Devil-Dog? Does she get a good deal? What are some of his limitations? What can he do for her?

9. What does Cuddy Banks want from Sawyer? How do the comic scene comment on the more serious ones?

10. What change does Susan notice has come over Frank? To what does she attribute the change? How does he respond? Does she believe him; should the audience?

Close read and then compare the two passages below:

Passage One

Fool, because I cannot.
Though we have power, know it is circumscribed
And tied in limits. Though he be curst to thee,
Yet of himself he is living to the world
And charitable to the poor, Now men
That, as he, love goodness, though in smallest measure,
Live without compass of our reach. His cattle
And corn I’ll kill and mildew, but his life
(unless I take him as I late found thee,
Cursing and swearing) I have no power to touch. (2.1.162-170)

Passage Two

Change thy conceit, I prithee.
Thou art all perfection. Diana herself
Swells in they thoughts and moderates thy beauty.
Within the left eye amorous Cupid sits
Feathering love-shafts, whose golden heads he dipped
In thy chaste breast. In the other lies
Blushing Adonis scarfed in modesties.
And still as wanton Cupid blows love-fires,
Adonis quenches out unchaste desires.
And from these two I briefly do imply
A perfect emblem of thy modesty.
Then, prithee, dear, maintain no more dispute,
For when thou speakst, it’s fit all tongues be mute. (2.2.93-106)


28 March. Macbeth 4&5

Questions about the Annotations?

Macbeth 4 & 5

  • 1. Why do the weird sisters, Hecate, and “their masters” (4.1.78) want to effect the affairs of state? What’s their stake in the outcome of battle for the throne of Scotland?
  • 2. How are we supposed to read the spells? Are the spells a metaphor for how nature effects culture? Or are they just silly—nothing would happen if all those items were mixed together.
  • 3. What three apparitions does Macbeth see and what prophesies do they bring him? How does Macbeth respond? Is his response consistent with Hecate’s expectations?
  • 4. Why does MacBeth kill MacDuff’s family? What’s your assessment of Lady MacDuff and her son?
  • 5. Of what is MacDuff attempting to persuade Malcolm? Why is Malcolm suspicious of MacDuff? How does Malcolm test MacDuff’s character? Will Malcolm make a better king than Macbeth, why or why not?
  • 6. What do the Gentlewoman and the Doctor observe Lady Macbeth doing? What conclusions do they draw from their interpretation?
  • 7. How do Malcolm and his forces disguise themselves as they move on Macbeth’s castle? What are the implications of their disguise?
  • 8. How does Macbeth respond to the news of Lady Macbeth’s death & how does the form of his response fit into the larger scene? Does Lady Macbeth kill herself? Why does Malcolm make such a report?
  • 9. Why might it matter that Malcolm is not “of woman born” (5.10.13)? 
Let’s close read the following passages and then compare them:

Passage One

Wisdom—to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion, and his title in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not,
He wants the natural touch, for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason. (4.1.6-14)

Passage Two

I will not yield
To kiss the ground before yourn Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,
And though opposed being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
O throw my warlike shield. Lay on, MacDuff
And damned be him that first cries ‘Hold, enough!’ (5.10.27-35)

21 March, Macbeth Acts 2-3

Housekeeping: Calendar Change

Part I: Secondary Articles and Annotation

  • 1.Review Blog Post and Paper Requirements
  • 2. Log-in to the MLA database
  • 3. Find an article on the play you chose and one of the possible topics: animals, posthumanism, human, nonhuman, staging.

Part II: Discussion

1.What is the significance of the floating dagger (2.1.32-40)? Why Macbeth can see it but not touch it? In what way is the dagger similar to the prophecies?

2.What is the relationship between sleep and death in Macbeth? For instance, Macbeth says that he heard a voice cry, ”Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep” (2.2.33-34); Lady Macbeth says “The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures” (2.2.51-52); and Macbeth says of the knocking, “Wake Duncan with thy knocking. I would thou couldst” (2.2.72). How do the Macbeths’ musings on sleep in 2.2 anticipate the alarum raised when everyone discovers Duncan has been murdered in 2.3?

3.How do you think Shakespeare and his contemporaries staged the blood?

4.Why stage MacDuff and Lennox’s entrance to Macbeth’s castle as passing through the gates of Hell? Is Macbeth’s castle really a place of torment and punishment?

5.What sort of night have MacDuff and Lennox passed through (2.3.50-56)?

6.Which characters’ description of the murder scene is the best?

7.How does Macbeth persuade the Murders to kill Banquo? What goes wrong during the murder?

8.Is Banquo’s ghost real or a figment of Macbeth’s imagination? What difference does it make?

9.Are the Macbeths good hosts, why or why not? Let’s watch the Banquet scene at 3.4. Macbeth (2015) with Michael Fassbender and the Patrick Stewart version.

10.Why do so many unnatural things happen in 3.4?

11.What’s the goal of Hecate’s monologue and why is it in different meter?

12. What separates humans from animals in this play?




16 March, Macbeth Act 1

Part I: Review the Paper Assignment

Part II: Macbeth B/G

Dates Description
1603 Queen Elizabeth (Tudor) I dies and James Stewart, King of Scotland becomes king of both Scotland and England & Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, become the King’s Men
1605 Gunpowder plot: small group of conspirators, embittered by what they perceived as James I intolerance of Catholics, attempted to set off a massive explosion of gunpowder barrels beneath the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes was caught guarding 36 barrels of gunpower, arrested, tried, and then drawn and quartered. Another conspirator, a Jesuit priest named Henry Garnet, was also captured and questions. The author of A treatise of Equivocation. A text, and action, many scholars think the porter references when he imagines the castle gate as the gates of hell, “Here’s an equivocator” (2.3.8).  
1606 Year most scholars agree Macbeth was composed and played for the first time
1611 Simon Foreman, doctor, quack, and all around Renaissance man, reports seeing Macbeth performed at the Globe.
1610-1615 Years in which Thomas Middleton, a sometime rival/sometime collaborator of Shakespeare’s wrote a play called The Witch, songs from which appear in the 1623 folio edition of Macbeth. Middleton is likely responsible for all of 3.5 and parts of 4.1, especially Hecate’s speeches.
1580-1630 Peak Witch Trial time in UK and in Continental Europe.

Macbeth, Act I, Questions

1.Why is it bad luck to say Macbeth backstage during a production of any play? 

2. Do the Weird Sisters, the First, Second, and Third Witch remind you of the Furies?

3. What sorts of offstage sounds do we hear in 1.1? Does it matter that the animals in the first scene are named and the people are not?

4. Who, what, and where are the Witches talking about in 1.1?

5. We get two accounts of the battle in 1.2, compare the account given by the Bloody Captain to the account that Ross gives. Why tell the same story twice? Why does the Captain use such awesome similes?

6. Do the Witches cause the thunder?

7. What sort of spell do the Witches cast at the beginning of 1.3 and why?

8. What do the Witches predict will happen to Macbeth? To Banquo? Compare the way in which each character reacts to the sisters and their predictions. Esp. Macbeth (1.3.126-42). COMPARE TWO SCENES.

9. How did Cawdor die? Who inherits after Duncan dies?

10. When does Macbeth choose to kill Duncan (1.4.48-53)?

11. What does Macbeth say in the letter he writes to Lady Macbeth? How does she respond? Is she a good reader–compare her reading practices with Julia or Silvia’s. Would Macbeth have committed the murders if not for Lady Macbeth?

12. Lots of birds so far. What do you make of “The raven himself is hoarse/That croacks the fatal entrance of Duncan” (1.5.37) and “This guest of summer,/The Temple-haunting marlet, does approve/By his loved masionry that the heavens’ breath/Smells wooingly her” (1.6.2-5).

13. In his famous soliloquy (1.7.1-28), Macbeth reasons through the pros and cons of killing Duncan. What are some arguments against the murder? What are some arguments in favor?

14. How does Lady Macbeth finally convince Macbeth to go through with the murder?




14 March. TGV, Acts 4-5

Acts 4-5

  • 1. What happens to Valentine after he is exiled from the court of Milan? What reason does he give when the outlaws ask why he was exiled? Why does he lie?
  • 2. Is the world out of doors different from the world inside? If yes, how?
  • 3. What techniques or actions does Proteus employ to woo Silvia once Valentine is exiled? How does Silvia respond?
  • 4. What’s your assessment of Julia? Why does she persist in her love for Proteus? Why does she “pity him/That with his very heart despiseth me?” (4.4.86-7)
  • 5. Is Silvia a good rhetorician? To answer this question, may want to look at how she persuaded Sir Eglamour to help her escape her father (4.3.11-36), or her response to Proteus (4.286-98).
  • 6. In 4.2, the Host perceives that Julia, who is disguised as Sebastian, does not like Proteus’s song. One reasons she gives for not liking the song is that the change in the music is the “spite” (4.2.64). Is this a play about the relative merits of change and constancy? If yes, what is your final assessment of the those concepts as they pertain to the play?  “O heaven, were man/But constant, he were perfect” (5.4.108-9).
  • 7. Who rescues Silvia from the Outlaws and what does her rescuer expect in return?
  • 8. How does Valentine respond to Proteus’s apology? Were you surprised?
  • 9. What sort of future does Valentine have planned according to the final five lines of the play?
  • 10. The Jew of Malta and The Two Gentlemen of Verona were both written, and maybe played, in 1589, so the plays share many staging/acting techniques unique to early modern drama. What are some techniques that the two plays share? What do those techniques help communicate to the audience?
  • 11. Is Silvia a good friend? In your final assessment, who are the best pair of friends we have seen so far this semester?


2 March. TGV, Acts 2-3

Discussion Questions:

1.Why does Silvia trick Valentine into writing a letter to himself? How does her trick comment on the quality of his writing and his love for her?

2. What do you think of Silvia and Valentine’s relationship? How do they compare with Julia and Proteus?

3. Why dangers does the “cult of courtly love” pose to the larger social structures in TGV?

4. What are some examples from that we’ve read so far in which “love” shapes the lover’s perception of the beloved? Do tropes of “courtly love” suggest that perception always shapes objects we perceive (i.e. is beauty always in the eye of the beholder)?

5. Can we spend a minute with Lance, Crab, and the pantomime-with-in the larger play? What’s going on in the pantomime? Are we supposed to read the rest of the play against this moment? Who is the dog? Why does the answer to that question matter?

6. Who gets the best in the contest over Silvia, Thurio, Valentine, or neither man?

7. Are Proteus and Julia married?

8. Does Valentine really know Proteus?

9. How and why has Valentine changed since he left Verona?

10. Why does Proteus betray Valentine’s secret to the Duke?

11. How has Julia changed since we saw her last? Why does she plant to dress in “such weeds/As may beseem some well-reputed page” (2.742-3)?

12. How does the Duke trick Valentine into admitting to his plan to “enfranchise” (3.1.151) Silvia?

13. What’s your assessment of Valentine’s letter to Silvia:

My thoughts do harbor with my Silvia nightly,
And slaves they are to me, that send them flying.
O, could their master come and go as lightly,
Himself would lodge where, senseless, they are lying.
My herald thoughts in thy pure bosom rest them,
While I , their king, that thither them importune,
Do curse the grace that with such grace hath blessed them,
Because myself do want my servants fortune.
I curse myself for they are sent by me,
that they should harbor where their lord should be. (3.1.140-49)

14. How does Lance’s inventory of his ideal woman comment on the Valentine and Proteus?

15. How do Thurio, the Duke, and Proteus plan to trick Silvia into falling out of love with Valentine?

16. Does this play advocate violence against women and sexual assault, OR is the play trying to think about systemic causes of rape culture?

17. How does the figure of the animal intersect with questions about gender and sexuality in this play?


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