Alan Bennett's The History Boys and Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost Essay

Alan Bennett's The History Boys and Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost Essay

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To What Extent Do You Believe that The History Boys and Love's Labour's Lost are Satires on Attitudes to Scholarship?

In The History Boys and Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare and Alan Bennett both satirise scholarship to various degrees. Love’s Labour’s Lost overall is more satirical; however, there is also an obvious element of satire in The History Boys. In Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare heavily satirises education and the pompous nature of some of those who consider themselves scholarly, particularly through the verbosity and pretentious nature of characters such as Holofernes and Armado, as well as the deluded ideas that the King and his Lords have on scholarship. On the other hand, in The History Boys, Bennett presents several views on education, especially through the two contrasting teaching styles of Hector and Irwin, and their respective merits, the ranging spectrum of the definitions of history given throughout the play, and the way he uses the character of Hector as a satire of traditional attitudes to scholarship.

In Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare satirises scholarship by painting a picture of a man who is convinced of his superior intelligence, but is actually a fool, using Don Armado, who greatly exaggerates the number and length of words he puts into his speech, along with his creation and misuse of words. An example of this is in Act V Scene 1, when he talks about meeting the princess 'in the posteriors of this day, which the rude multitude call the afternoon'. He uses the word 'posterior' absurdly, although technically makes sense, as it means towards the rear end, but is usually used to describe a human backside. Furthermore, he insinuates that he is a superior person intellectually, by referring to ...


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...ngaging in illegal activities, and even goes so far as to try and justify it, highlights his moral short-sightedness and makes him the ultimate parody of a rigid schoolmaster.

Overall, the both of the plays use satire to an extent, but in The History Boys there is far less satire, more differing definitions of History, and attitudes to teaching - in fact the main difference is that it is orientated more around teaching than learning. In Love's Labour's Lost, the whole play is arguably a satire of attitudes of education, with nearly all of the characters serving in their own way as a satire.









Works Cited:
Love's Labour's Lost, William Shakespeare
The History Boys, Alan Bennett
Artsalive.ca. 2004. Love's Labour's Lost Study Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.artsalive.ca/pdf/eth/activities/loves_labours_guide.pdf [Accessed: 6 Dec 2013].

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