Macbeth, and the Potential of an Unopened Book!

Article written by Mrs Corrigan – Head of English.

I’m going to be honest, I love receiving parcels – the thought of an unopened box with something new inside thrills me. But it’s not the contents of the box (although I have to admit, I do love a new pair of shoes or a brand new book), it’s the potential that the parcel represents. And as I parcelled up the new Macbeth texts, ably assisted by Mrs Walker-Smith, it reminded me of the excitement shown towards Shakespeare by two of our Year 10 parents. A conversation with Mrs Thistlethwaite reminded me of the experience of receiving a GCSE text for the first time; Mrs Thistlethwaite was so enthused about her son starting Shakespeare and her love of ‘Macbeth’ was inspiring. In the same way, Mrs Davenport, on receiving Adam’s text, was so distracted by the beautiful glossy version of ‘Macbeth’ that it temporarily distracted her from her duties. And this is the beauty of starting a new novel or play – there’s so much potential that the unopened book represents.

Notably, it was these conversations that got me reminiscing about my days at school, in my English class, and the multitude of feelings that I experienced when Mr Smith handed me ‘A Merchant of Venice’ and almost danced around the room as he prepared to teach the text, limbering up in the manner of Mo Salah at Anfield! This reminded of the range of experiences that can be enjoyed whilst studying Shakespeare; that unopened book could represent something amazing and thrilling, taking our students to new worlds and past times.

For me studying ‘A Merchant of Venice’ was something magical. It was like receiving a pair of Manilo Blahniks (I wish). Yes, the language can be a little alienating at the start, but going beyond the archaic words, Shakespeare manages to offer timeless messages and lessons about the dangers of ambition, or the consequences of jealousy, or in my case, that appearances can be deceptive and women can do anything they want in life (Portia, in ‘A Merchant of Venice’ is a legend).

Therefore, as we embark, together, on an exciting journey through Shakespeare (in all of our year groups this term), I’d like to think that we can all work together to encourage the importance of ‘stickability’ for our children. Sometimes, in life, things can be a little more challenging, but when we reach the top of our challenge, the view is always magnificent. Sometimes, Shakespeare takes a little more effort, but this makes it even more worthwhile.

As Year 10 students receive their own copy of ‘Macbeth’ through the letterbox, I’d like to encourage them to take a moment to hold the book, smell the book and think about the potential it represents. This is going to be a truly exciting journey – enjoy! I’d like to think that in a few years time, they will be recounting their own experience of Shakespeare to their children in the manner of Mrs Thistlethwaite!