The Scottish play

Letters from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth, written after hearing the witches’ prophecies, by Caspar, Wayne and Tanya.  Do you think they capture something of the Shakespearean style?

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My dearest wife,

‘Twas the dunnest battle but I assure thee I am well. Just before I start I pray that thee burn this letter after ‘tis read. The battle was against Norway and there was a countless number of deaths on each side but we were victorious by the skin of our teeth. The field that we battled on turned incarnadine.

I am tired of risking my life for this weak and feeble king. I am going to unburden my dunnest thoughts and I pray for you to stay by my side no matter what happens. I think what if something were to happen to Duncan? We are third in line, but what if Duncan’s sons were to just disappear also?

I must tell thee, dear wife, I have been alive for some time now but this is the strangest thing I have ever seen. After the hurlyburly of the war, when I was riding back home to thee, I saw three old crones. They said, All hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, All hail Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, All hail Macbeth, who shalt be king! How doth they know my dunnest thoughts?

(Caspar)

My dearest wife,

I have really important news of the utmost urgency. I hope this letter finds you healthy and well. I have sent this letter to tell you I have completed my duty for King Duncan. As you know there was a battle that had a great mass of bloodshed. The battle was against the Norwegians and as general I led King Duncan’s army to victory. There was an onslaught and there was a horrific cost as one thousand, two hundred brave men died.

I must unburden myself of my dunnest thoughts of becoming King of Scotland. I’m tired of fighting for the old and feeble king. I am constantly alarum’d as I am the most fierce fighter he has ever had.

My dearest wife, the most strange things have happened. After the hurly-burly of the battle, Banquo and I noticed three haggard old crones, sucking in the despair of all the deaths. I drew my sword and demanded them speak. My wife, I must tell you that I feared them. Their rasping voices like a stone on iron chanting, All hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, All hail Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, and All hail Macbeth, he who shalt be king. Then they said, All hail Banquo whose son shalt be king. Dost the old crones prophecies mean aught?

(Wayne)

I hope that my letter gets to thee. I send this letter to thee to tell thee I am healthy and well and I have done my job for the king. The battle against Norway was bloody and ugly but at the end we were victorious.

I’m very sorry but I have to tell you my deepest, dunnest secrets. I have been having these thoughts about being King of Scotland. I want to be more that Thane of Glamis. I want to be something bigger and better.

This morning I was on my way back from the war and I came across three withered old crones. I told them to move but then they said, pointing their crooked fingers at me, Hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis. Next, another one said, Hail Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor. And then suddenly one said, Hail Macbeth who shalt be King of Scotland! Then the crones disappeared and the king’s messenger came and said the king is making you Thane of Cawdor…. Art all the crones prophecies to come true?

(Tanya)

World War II

We’ve begun by discussing the lead up to the Second World War.  We used this video as a prompt: Lead up to World War II  (a little wordy, and might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but worth a look).  We also watched  footage of Neville Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’ speech and listened to his subsequent Declaration of war

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Then we asked the children to write a little about what they already know about World War II and, more importantly, what they want to know.  They came up with extraordinarily deep questions, some of which we will try to explore in subsequent weeks.

On understanding war and the morality of war

  • Why did a species turn on itself? (Daisy) 
  • I want to know why people wanted to kill each other when they could have a world of peace.    Why were people OK to “accidentally” bomb houses of innocent people? (Olivia)
  • Why do we have to be so cruel to our own kind?  How could we be so stupid to kill countries for six years? (Sarafina)
  • What was the point of fighting.  Do we get anything out of it?  (Nathan)
  • Why was it so inhuman? (Wayne)
  • Why we couldn’t sort things out another way? (Nina)
  • How did the war spread around the world? Why? (Myah)
  • Will there be a World War III (Emily)

On Hitler, the Nazi Party and Germany

  • What triggered [some] Germans to be extremely cruel, killing machines?  (Archie)
  • Why did so many die just because of one person? (Sylvie)
  • And some very black humour from Sylvie: how many trees were used as death certificates?
  • If Hitler hadn’t died [and had won the war] what would he have done next?   (Tanya and Caspar)
  • We are all human.  Why did Hitler think Jews were so bad?  (Emily)
  • Which country killed more people: England or Germany?  (Archie)

On what life was like during the war, how the war affected the local area, and the role of women in wartime

  • How did families cope during the world war?  Where did families live and what did they eat?  (Nathan)
  • Why couldn’t women fight in war? (Olivia)   
  • What kinds of things did the women do? (Sylvie)
  • Was the local area bombed?  
  • What was our primary school doing in WW2.  (Sylvie)  
  • When did Rosendale Road get hit by a V2 rocket? (Faith)