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The Winter of Our Discontent

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The Winter of Our Discontent

Richard III, Act 1 scene 1


Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York [...].
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums chang’d to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, [...]
I am determined to prove a villain [...]
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous, [...]
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer [I] shall be.

Richard III, Act 1 scene 1, William Shakespeare, 1591.


a) Sum up what you have understood in two sentences.

b) What is Gloucester’s mood? Which season is he associated with?

c) What strikes you about the adjectives in bold type? What do these words tell you about the situation?

d) What sort of man is Gloucester?

e) Explain how the protagonists are related.
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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king’s justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran’s life. [...]

Bran’s father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. [...] Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. “Ice,” that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man’s hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. [...] His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, “In the name of Robert of the House of Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die.” [....] His father took off the man’s head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. [...]

“Do you understand why I did it?”

“He was a wildling,” Bran said. “They carry off women and sell them to the Others.” [...]

“The question was not why the man had to die, but why I must do it. [...] We hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you’d take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man doesn’t deserve to die.”

Excerpt(s) from A GAME OF THRONES: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: BOOK ONE by George R. R. Martin, copyright © 1996 by WO & Shade LLC. Used by permission of Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.


f) Identify all the references to summer and winter. Is it summer or winter in this passage?

g) Which season is associated with Eddard Stark, and which with his son Bran?

h) How is Eddard Stark portrayed?

i) Compare him to Gloucester. Why was Bran taken by his father to witness the execution?
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