English Language and Literature (2nd Year)
‘Strangely plausible’: an alternative reading of government in ‘Women Beware Women’
I am applying to speak about an essay I wrote for the ‘Jacobean Drama’ module, which offered an alternative reading of the Cardinal, directly in contrast with the way he is commonly received: transforming him from innocent bystander to malevolent orchestrator.
I would like to talk about the opportunities and pitfalls of taking such an unconventional reading as the basis of an essay; demonstrate how I worked with textual evidence, using the text to support a more unusual thesis; and discuss the consequences of constructing an argument which (said my marker) is not plausible, but ‘strangely plausible’.
I would also consider the idea of reading a reading (i.e. considering how Middleton interprets Machiavelli); think about reading between the lines (using the ambiguity of stage directions to support my claims); and discuss the benefits of writing about a character whose actual presence in the play is minimal (just a handful of scenes).
Finally, I would look at the areas where the essay, though it received a first, could have been made stronger, by drawing a clear distinction between my reading and that of other critics.