EN302: Early Drama Assignment 2 (Seminar Groups 1 and 2): Close Reading


Word limit: 1,000 words

The following exercise is designed to test your ability to offer a disciplined close reading of a section of a play and to present an argument about it. You should make sure that you discuss the extract fully, paying attention to the questions below, but you must also situate that discussion within the context of the play as a whole and any wider considerations that you feel are appropriate (for instance in terms of theatrical, theoretical or social context).

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Consider ONE of the following extracts:

Either: The Last Judgement, from The York Corpus Christi Play, lines 229-300.

OR: The Second Shepherds’ Play, from The Towneley Plays, lines 534-589

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Questions to Consider:

  • Who is on stage? Who is speaking and to whom?
  • Where are they speaking? How do you know?
  • What kind of language are they using? Why?
  • What is the significance of the technical aspects of the language, e.g. metre, rhyme, diction, imagery?
  • How do you imagine this scene being staged? What is your evidence?
  • Where does this scene come in the play? How does it relate to the rest of the play?
  • What do the characters says about themselves? What do the characters says about others? What do other characters say about them?
  • What props are used? How? When? Why?
  • Can you find any information about how this scene has been played on stage or in film that helps you to interpret it?
  • What have critics said about this scene or about the rest of the play?

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How to present your essay:

All text must double-spaced and in a clear, size 12 font (i.e. Times New Roman, or Helvetica).

You must support your argument with direct reference to primary AND secondary texts and you must cite act/scene/line numbers, where appropriate, after any direct quotations.

Secondary criticism must also be correctly presented, referenced and included in a full bibliography. Instructions on how to do this using MHRA Style can be found in the School of English Handbook or on Moodle. Failure to reference secondary criticism constitutes plagiarism and will be dealt with severely.

How to submit your essay:

Undergraduate students must submit an electronic copy of their essay via Moodle. Students must submit all hardcopies of diagrams or complimentary material via the School of English Office, not to the teacher who will be marking it. Instructions and marking criteria are given to students in the Undergraduate Student Handbook. All deadlines set for School of English modules are binding and failure to meet them will result in a mark of zero unless an extension has been granted.

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