Final Examination

English 640 (Fall 2016)

Dr. Fike


Day, time, location:  Wednesday, December 7th, 6:30 p.m., Owens 101

Fall 2016 examination schedule:

Directions: Respond to ONE of the following questions in a polished essay of at least 6-8 single-spaced pages in a large bluebook.


Question One

Of the two questions, the first offers greater flexibility and therefore greater potential for creativity on your part. You may be familiar with the term "lectionary readings," which means selections from the Old and New Testaments, plus a Pauline epistle and perhaps a Psalm, all of which a preacher weaves together into a sermon. I'm looking for something very similar here: a synthesis of something from at least four plays representing all four "modes" that we have studied, something from The Bedford Companion, and substantive connections to at least two of the critical articles that we have read this semester. Your objective is not merely to discuss a bunch of things in the same place. You must also use your sources to support a strong thesis. It may be helpful to center your essay on a key concept or passage from The Bedford Companion, but the choice of how to proceed is entirely up to you. If you prefer narrower parameters, select question two.

Question Two

The alternative is the following preformulated question, which offers an opportunity to write about the plays--to put them together--in a way that we did not thoroughly discuss. This semester we have seen numerous examples of art-within-art. All of them say something about the theme of human sexuality, but some do so more strongly and directly than others. Discuss this claim and argue about the relationships among A-E in terms of sexuality. In other words, make an argument that centers on degrees of relevance. Note, however, that answers may differ depending on the criterion on which you base your analysis. In any case, follow an outline that makes logical sense; you do not have to trudge through A-E in order, but be certain that you discuss all five examples in your essay. Then use what you know about Shakespeare’s life from The Bedford Companion to argue that he most strongly supports the portrayal of human sexuality in one of the choices below. Be sure to discuss all of the examples. Sharp distinctions between and among the characters will substantially enhance your response. Somewhere in your essay, make a substantive connection to at least two of the critical articles that we have read this semester (tie in a quotation). Finally, do not just discuss a bunch of stuff in the same place; each segment is a piece in a developing argument.Summary of plots will be unsatisfactory.

A. Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night's Dream

B. Hal's playing the father with Falstaff in King Henry IV, Part One

            C. The fall of Troy, The Murder of Gonzago, Ophelia’s Saint Valentine’s Day song--in Hamlet

            D. Desdemona's handkerchief in Othello

            E. Prospero’s masque in The Tempest

Do not answer both questions.