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That Devilish Tinker Bell!



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Henry Fuseli. Puck. Oil on canvas, ca. 1810-1820.

 
May 2005
 
Geraldine A. Richards teaches English at West Genesee High School in Camillus, New York. This lesson is used in her Shakespeare class for seniors.
 

Plays/Scenes Covered
A Midsummer Night's Dream 2.1.1-59
 
What's On for Today and Why

Students often feel that only one correct interpretation of a text exists, especially when dealing with Shakespeare. In this lesson students are challenged to think about how cultural context impacts interpretation. They may also begin to see that their own reading of any text is a product of their culture and experience.


 
What You Need

Folger edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts


Documents:
"Daemonologie," pp. 73-75
"Daemonologie," pp. 76-77
"Daemonologie," Title Page
Fuseli's "Puck"
Rackham's "Puck..."
 
Images:


Henry Fuseli. Puck. Oil on canvas, ca. 1810-1820.
 

Arthur Rackham. Puck -- "Lord what fools these mortals be". Drawing, ca.1908.
 

 
What To Do

1. Most students are familiar with Tinker Bell, Peter Pan’s fairy companion. Ask students what qualities Tinker Bell exhibits and how she is represented in film or illustrated in books.


2. Have students read the fifth chapter of the third book (pages 73–77) of Daemonologie by James I (attached below).  These pages include "The description of the fourth kinde of Spirites called the Phairie." James I published Daemonologie in 1597 to convince the "doubting hearts of many" that the "assaults of Satan are most certainly practiced." This book was widely read during the Renaissance. In a group discussion, have students compare the Disney version of a fairy with James I's presentation.

 

3. Share Henry Fuseli's early nineteenth-century painting of Puck (attached below as an image and as a handout). As part of a group discussion, ask students to identify telling details in the illustration that reveal Puck’s personality. They may notice a devilish look in Puck's eyes and the dark colors used in the scene. Have them compare and contrast Puck with the other fairy depicted in the painting. What do they think is the relationship between the two? (Note: Your students may also notice that the Puck scene has been painted over a picture of a woman reclining. Fuseli often reused old canvases.)

 

4. Next, have the group describe Puck's personality as represented in Arthur Rackham's early twentieth-century drawing (attached below as an image and as a handout). They should identify details in the drawing to support their position. Then, have them compare and contrast Rackham's depiction of Puck with Fuseli's. They may notice that Rackham's Puck is more child-like and whimsical.

 

5. Students may then review A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2.1.159. What specific language here suggests the fairies' mischievous or benign nature? Conclude by discussing how and why the depiction of fairies differs in different contexts.


 
How Did It Go?
Were students able to compare and contrast the various representations of fairies? Were they able to find evidence to support their views? Did they find specific language in the play to suggest the dual nature of fairies?
 


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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1 Comment

types of garage doors
Traci October 7, 2014 3:53 AM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
 
 
How To

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