« AnteriorContinuar »
Pupils genuinely interested in a play will naturally desire to distribute roles, commit the parts to memory, and enact scenes. For this exercise opportunity should be given to the fullest possible extent. If young people are expected to resort to laboratories and perform experiments in physics and chemistry, by precisely equal rights and for similar purposes they should mount the stage and assume the Shakespearian characters. The one procedure is as serious, as genuine, as deeply related to culture, as the other. The prepossession by which we regard a chemical experiment as serious business, and a histrionic experiment as merely amusing, worthy only of an hour after the school session is over, is an unfounded prejudice which must be overcome before we can begin to have great improvement in reading in our schools.
To aid in some measure the assignment of parts, I have given at the end of the book a list of the persons of the drama, with the scenes in which they appear.
As all high school pupils study some foreign language, ancient or modern, and a few are studying Old English, I have considered it right to give, on occasion, a note or a query of a purely philological nature. Pupils like, very reasonably, to apply to any subject the knowledge they have gained in some other subject. When their Latin, their German, or their French will throw light on a Shakespearian word or phrase, they should turn aside from questions purely dramatic, to discuss a point of philology. It is strange how some Shakespearians have dreaded the study of the poet's language, as if this study threw a blight upon appreciation of his literary art. Some Latin and French being taken for granted, the best preparation for the study of Shakespeare is an acquaintance with the pre-Elizabethan language and literature; and though high school pupils will seldom have this knowledge, the teacher certainly always should.
Macbeth is usually read early in the school course, and classes occupied with this tragedy will ordinarily have read only one or two other plays. Where this is the case, it will be unprofitable to undertake much comparative study of plays with plays, or to enter largely upon consideration of the development of the poet's language and versification in the successive stages of his career. These subjects are extremely interesting, but in their very nature imply the possession of more data of knowledge than the beginner can possibly command. The habit of reading without understanding, or of accepting results without having followed the processes by which the results were reached, is not to be commended.
The main thing in dealing with a play of Shakespeare in school is to induce pupils to read it forcibly and sympathetically; to enable them to perceive and appreciate the development of character in the chief personages, and to describe this development in appropriate terms; to teach them to note the collisions of passions and interests, and the effects of these collisions on human careers ; to let them repeat the majestic language till it sinks indelibly into the memory; to lead them to study the poet's unapproachable diction till they come to feel, at least in some slight degree, what is the inexpressible and elusive secret of poetry itself.
SAMUEL THURBER. Girls' High School,
Boston, March, 1896.
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. DUNCAN, king of Scotland.
An English Doctor. MALCOLM,
A Scotch Doctor. his sons. DONALBAIN,
A Soldier. MACBETH, / generals of the king's A Porter. BANQUO,
An Old Man.
LADY MACDUFF. noblemen of Scotland. MENTEITH,
Gentlewoman attending on Lady Mao ANGUS,
HECATE. FLEANCE, son to Banquo.
Three Witches. SIWARD, Earl of Northumberland, gen- Apparitions.
eral of the English forces. Young SIWARD, his son.
Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers,
Murderers, Attendants, and MessenSEYTON, an officer attending on Macbeth.
SCENE: Scotland ; England. Boy, son to Macduff.
SCENE I. A desert place.
Sec. Witch. When the hurlyburly's done,
Third Witch. That will be ere the set of sun.
Upon the heath.
Sec. Watch. Paddock calls.
10 All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
[Exeunt. SCENE II. A camp near Forres. Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONAL
BAIN, LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding
Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report,
This is the sergeant
Doubtful it stood ;
20 Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,