The Complete Deaths will detail all of the Bard’s 74 scripted deaths in one play, from early rapier thrusts to the more elaborate viper-breast-application adopted by Cleopatra. The total makes Shakespeare’s complete works more gory than notorious HBO TV show Game of Thrones, which has scripted 61 deaths in 50 episodes, including the controversial burning of a child at the stake. […]
Over the past four centuries, the brutality of Shakespeare’s plays has become the subject of endless academic study, but his contemporary critics didn’t approve of the on-stage gore. Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute, said that Elizabethan drama was known for being gruesome1: “The English drama was notorious for on-stage deaths; they were thought crass2. For neo-classical critics, deaths should be off-stage.” […] Crouch said: “The first history plays are quite rudimentary in how to snuff out3 a life, but he has a more sophisticated means of killing people as the plays go on. “There is some extraordinarily exquisite stuff, the smothering4 of Desdemona, Cleopatra putting an asp to her breast, the suicides in Julius Caesar with Brutus asking each of the men individually if they will hold a sword while he runs on to it.”
“Shakespeare’s 74 death scenes in a single play more gory than Game of Thrones”, Alice Vincent, The Telegraph, 2015.
Read the article. Find the words or expressions corresponding to the following definitions. 1) long and large blade (n.) ➜
2) kill by fire in public (exp.) ➜
3) basic (adj.) ➜
4) continue (v.) ➜
True or false? Justify with the relevant sentences from the text. 1) The Bard is a nickname for Shakespeare.
2) Shakespeare was never criticised for writing violent deaths.
3) The author of the article finds some of the deaths by Shakespeare superb.
4) Cleopatra dies of thirst.
Does the author believe that Game of Thrones is the most gory piece of work ever made? Rephrase her opinion.
Find the English equivalent of these French words and expressions in the chart. 1) chagrin ➜
2) enterrés vivants ➜
3) étouffés avec un oreiller ➜
4) décapités ➜
5) tomber raide mort ➜
6) honte / mortification ➜
7) poignardés ➜
8) morsure de serpent ➜
9) changés en tourte ➜
10) pendaison ➜
11) mort de faim ➜
12) privation de sommeil ➜
Select from the chart two causes of death corresponding to these characteristics. Be ready to justify your choices. 1)
Caused by a weapon:
Caused by animals:
Caused by emotions:
Could look natural:
What are the four most common causes of death in Shakespeare’s plays? Remembering that his plays were staged,
why do you think these are the most common?
Groups 1 & 2
Recap orally what you have found and account for the multiple
causes of death in Shakespeare’s plays. Useful vocabulary:
In Shakespeare’s plays, many people die of / from… Compared to Game of Thrones, Shakespeare’s plays are… I think the most… is…
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