OCR involves teachers in the development of new support materials to capture current teaching practices tailored to our new specifications. These support materials are designed to inspire teachers and facilitate different ideas and teaching practices. Each Scheme of Work and set of sample Lesson Plans is provided in Word format – so that you can use it as a foundation to build upon and amend the content to suit your teaching style and students’ needs.
The Scheme of Work and sample Lesson plans provide examples of how to teach this unit and the teaching hours are suggestions only. Some or all of it may be applicable to your teaching.
The Specification is the document on which assessment is based and specifies what content and skills need to be covered in delivering the course. At all times, therefore, this support material booklet should be read in conjunction with the Specification. If clarification on a particular point is sought then that clarification should be found in the Specification itself.
Sample Scheme of Work
GCE English Literature H071 H471
F663 Section B Drama and Poetry Pre 1800
This Scheme of Work is designed to accompany the OCR GCE English Literature specification for first teaching from September 2008.
Suggested teaching time: 1 Hour
Topic:The White Devil in conjunction with Book IX of Paradise Lost
This scheme looks first at the poetry text, then at the Drama text, then develops comparative awareness.
Unfortunately, there is no easily accessible performed version of The White Devil currently in the public domain: some Centres may have a recording of the BBC Radio 3 production, sadly no longer available. It is helpful for students to have access to a recorded version of Paradise Lost Book IX:, Anton Lesser's recording for Naxos is particularly accessible. Peter Malin's Student Text Guide to The White Devil published by Philip Allan is a useful resource.
All suggestions are merely that; guided exploration and the formation of the group’s own agendas are much more valuable than our suggestions - especially when the taught group feels that it is in control of its own agenda for learning.
Suggested teaching and homework activities
Points to note
Phase 1 – Core ideas
To introduce students to the theme (AO1/2) of appearance and reality, and to the idea of a “white devil”.
To ensure that students understand that they will initially read a poetry text but that they will soon read a play and will be required to compare the two (AO3).
Sit pupils in groups of five (adapt if this is not possible). Stick a pre-written label onto each student where they cannot see what their label says. They will be labelled as follows: pleasant and speaks well/fiery and flirtatious/self-righteous/jealous/ambitious and manipulative. Privately inform the student you will give the “pleasant and speaks well” label to that they are the “guilty one”. Students will be told to improvise a dramatic scenario where they are outside the headteacher’s office. They have been told that one of their group, narrowed down to those five by the IT department, has been inciting other people to break rules and harm others using anonymous profiles in social networking sites. They must work out who the guilty person is before the headteacher sees them again. The students must treat each other bearing the labels in mind as they improvise.
Students will usually blame “jealous” or “ambitious and manipulative” as well as accusing “fiery and flirtatious” of all kinds of provocation. They will rarely blame the one they regard as “pleasant”. This is an innovation opportunity.
This is a useful starter to introduce the concept of the “white devil” whose pleasant exterior belies their sinister purpose. It can also lead into a discussion of exactly who the devil is and how he came to “fall” from goodness to evil.
Then re-cap on the story of Adam and Eve, which most students will already be familiar with, and explain where within that plot Book IX of Paradise Lost starts.
Read the “Argument” to Book IX and then up to line 85, pointing out features of an epic as you progress.
As homework, pupils should go over the notes they have made so far and then research traditional Greek and Roman epics so that they have an understanding of that particular tradition that Milton was drawing from (AO4).
It may be useful to share the following Biblical verses with students: Isaiah 14:12, to discuss how early Christianity came to apply the name “Lucifer” to the Devil, and Revelation 12:9, speaking of the Devil being cast out. (AO4)
Copies of some of Gustav Doré’s Paradise Lost illustrations of Satan may be useful. (AO4)
Copies of King James Bible version of he story of the Fall in Genesis.
It is important initially to fully engage with each text in its own right.
The first stage of this scheme introduces the poetry text, while sowing seeds of comparison/
“The white devil is worse than the black” – a contemporary proverb that gave Webster his title – can be introduced to the students here. (AO4)
Phase 2 - Studying Paradise Lost Book IX
To ensure that students understand what an epic is and that Milton drew from an ancient tradition when he chose that form for Paradise Lost. (AO2, AO4)
Hear back from students about what they discovered about epics for their homework and ensure that all have heard of The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Briefly discuss the oral tradition of the Homeric epics and typical features (SCARFED is a useful acronym) such as similes, catalogues, assemblies, formulae, epithets and direct speech. (AO2)
Recap on lines 1-85 and consider how Milton has used and arguably extended the form of the heroic epic – what he mean by “higher argument” as opposed to describing “caparisons and steeds”. Introduce the concept of the “psychomachia” and suggest that students be alert to internal conflicts.
Then, read on to line 85-289, focusing on the presentation (AO2) of Adam and Eve’s relationship.
Brief extracts from Homeric epic, such an the extended simile that appears in Book Two lines 455-466 of The Iliad.
This may be an appropriate place to alert students to the fact that, as Homer is reported to have been in legend, Milton had been totally blind since 1652. They may find it useful to read Milton’s Sonnet XVI, “When I consider how my light is spent” or “To Mr Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness”. (AO4)
To focus on Milton’s characterisation of Satan.
Read lines 290-493 of book IX. (AO3) To explore the idea that Satan is in many ways a tragic hero, flawed and ambitious. Point out the poignancy in Satan’s admission that Earth reminds him of the Heaven that he is now barred from and that at the sight of Eve he momentarily “abstracted stood from his own Evil”.
William Blake’s famous saying of Milton being “a true poet, and of the devil’s party without knowing it” might be useful here.
The passage from Aristotle’s Poetics outlining his definition of a tragic hero could initiate discussion of heroism as well as preparing the ground for study of tragic heroes in The White Devil.
To explore the idea of temptation and the seductive use of language.
To read lines 495-612 in class and to annotate them in detail. Students should be invited to explore how Satan tempts and manipulates Eve. (AO2)
Ben Jonson’s famous saying from Timber or Discoveries: “Language most shows a man: speak that I may see thee” may provide fuel for discussion – to what extent do characters mean what they say?
To continue to explore Adam and Eve’s relationship
To read from lines 613 to 833, focusing on Eve’s attitude towards Adam.
This is an innovation opportunity. Tack two paper cut outs of the figures of Adam and Eve to the board/the classroom wall. Explain to students that at different points they can suggest that the position of the figures is changed. They should realise that Adam and Eve are initially very close and place them together, but that the paper figures move further and further apart as the relationship deteriorates over the course of Book IX.
Homework: students should read lines 834-1034 focusing on how Eve tempts Adam and the parallels between her rhetoric and Satan’s.
Two paper cut outs of Adam and Eve. These could possibly be cut out from illustrations of Paradise Lost as an opportunity to introduce an illustrator’s view of these characters. (AO3)
E.M.W. Tillyard’s essay “The Crisis of Paradise Lost” (Casebook Series, Milton: Paradise Lost, ed. A.E. Dyson, Macmillan 1973) is a useful resource for further study of Book IX . (AO3)
To continue to trace the developments in Adam and Eve’s relationship.
To read as a class from lines 1035 to the end continuing to move the Adam and Eve figures further and further apart as their relationship deteriorates into recrimination and rebuke.
Students will also be asked to recall the Eden story as a whole and to remember what Adam and Eve’s punishment will be.
Suggested essay title: “Love can often be self-centered”. In the light of this view, discuss ways inwhich Milton explores love in Paradise Lost Book IX.
Although only focusing upon one text, students can be encouraged to use the prompting quotation and to include some detailed analysis, and possibly some critical arguments, into their essay (covering all AOs).
The paper figures of Adam and Eve.
The Biblical verses Genesis 3:23-24 could be used to remind students of the eventual expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. (AO4)
Phase 3 - Studying The White Devil
Principal Examiner's Advice (from training events)
"It seems likely to be more effective to study one text, encouraging creative engagement with it on the students’ part, then to teach the second text ‘looking back’ - connections and comparisons should begin to emerge spontaneously, and then should be nurtured and explored".
"Candidates and groups who are encouraged to spot links and form comparative insights, then nurture and present them, are likely to develop and defend them: candidates who are told what the links are may well resist them'.
To introduce students to the drama text and to ensure that they understand that, although it is a different genre from Milton’s poem, they will find it productive to consider ways to cross-reference the two texts from the start.
With group, create paper figures representing Vittoria, Flamineo and Brachiano. Explain to students that Flamineo and Vittoria are siblings and that Brachiano is her lover. Tell them that, as was the case with Adam and Eve, the class will move the figures in closer or further proximity to one another depending on how their relationships develop. This will encourage students to make connections between this aspect of the two texts (AO3) as well as providing a visual stimulus to trace these relationships.
(AO4) Make a basic table that students can fill in to help to place both texts in their context. For The White Devil, Include the dates of publication/production, the dates and significant life events of the authors, genre and contemporary historical events. It is important that students understand the basic dates and context of the texts from the outset.
Initially do not read Webster’s introduction, which can more profitably be looked at later in the course. Instead start at the beginning of I.i. and read the first scene. (AO2) Consider how the society of Rome is presented, how Lodovico is characterised, the implicit misogyny in some of Lodovico’s comparisons and how Vittoria is first introduced to the audience, through Lodovico’s complaints.
Three paperfigures, two male and one female, to be tacked to the board/classroom wall. Having the figures in Renaissance dress would help students to place the play in its context from the outset.
Students can use the biographical information printed at the front or in the notes of most editions of Paradise Lost and The White Devil to find information to add to the table. Most editions have comprehensive summaries of the authors’ education, family background, Protestantism, political allegiances and key life events. (AO4)
For WD, Malin's book (cited above) has helpful context.
To discuss Vittoria’s relationships with the men around her and to elicit comparisons between Vittoria and Milton’s Eve from the students.
Read I.ii. as a class and discuss Flamineo’s actions and motives, Vittoria’s relationship with her husband Camillo and her “union” with Brachiano, Cornelia’s reaction, Brachiano’s quick exit and Flamineo’s reasons for encouraging his sister’s adulterous love. In addition to this, points can be drawn between this scene of The White Devil and Paradise Lost Book IX in terms of imagery (AO3): Cornelia’s reference toFlamineo being “mildew on a flower” can be linked to Satan’s marring of Eve, the “fairest unsupported flower”; the “goodly yew” of Vittoria’s dream links to the temptation represented by the “fair tree” in Eden; Flamineo’s references to the devil recall the original temptation story and Flamineo’s metaphor of “the subtle foldings of a winter snake” can be linked to the “circular base of rising folds” that Satan as a snake is described as.
Continue to move the figures as Vittoria and Brachiano “move closer” to one another.
Students should understand that, although Paradise Lost was published in 1667, post-dating The White Devil, which appeared in 1612, both writers were drawing upon the original story of temptation and sin with this snake/tree imagery. (AO2/4)
To read II.i. and to consider a woman’s role within marriage and society.
Discuss Isabella’s reliance on her husband and the fact that she has no real option of leaving him despite his infidelity: after declaring herself divorced and her intention to go to Padua, Brachiano confidently expects that she will “turn in post” with Francisco concurring that her vow was “rash”. Students may also discuss the extent to which Isabella is Vittoria’s antithesis and the extent to which their marriages can be compared. Students may also connect the marriages in The White Devil with Milton’s Adam and Eve. (AO3)
It may be useful to show students St Paul’s directions for women in 1 Timothy 2:9-18 – women should “learn in silence with all subjection”.
The website for the Folger Shakespeare Library contains two freely accessible documents that can act as a source for what marriage was like in seventeenth century Britain. http://www.folger.edu/eduLesPlanDtl.cfm?lpid=615
To use a lesson on preparing for a debate to introduce students to research skills and to the importance of developing opinions about the text and of researching the views of other readers and the context of the texts.
Bring students to the library or to another location where there are both books and electronic resources available. Divide the class into two teams: one proposing the motion and one opposing it. Give them the motion, “This house believes that Isabella, Vittoria and Eve should not defy or argue with their husbands”. Each student should be given a role to play within their team – depending on numbers, one student on each team could write an opening speech, one on each term a closing speech; some students could use electronic resources or journals and others comb through photocopies and books. Students can continue preparation for a debate the following lesson for homework.
Computers so that students can search online (maybe through “google scholar” or, if your centre has subscribed to online journals, to academic search engines such as Jstor). Any book extracts or articles on Milton and Webster that you have been able to source. This is an ICT opportunity.
Diane K. McColley’s essay “Milton and the Sexes”, found in The Cambridge Companion to Milton (ed. Dennis Danielson, Cambridge: 1989, rpt 1997) may be useful for students. Most student editions of The White Devil contain information about the status of women in seventeenth century society.
To explore texts through a debate
Give a whole lesson to the class debate researched the previous lesson. Judge the winners on the quality of the argument, the references to Milton and Webster and to the references to the seventeenth century context and to the views of other readers.
No specific resources – arrange the room so that those proposing and those opposing the motion face each other and points can go through you as chair.
Students will be encouraged to address the AOs directly through the debate.
Read II.ii. and III.i. and consider Webster’s dramatic techniques.
Read through these two shorter scenes as a class (although this may be a suitable moment to point out that Webster’s original text did not divide the play into acts and scenes and that these are later divisions). Consider various dramatic techniques as a class, such as the use of the dumb show and the suspense created in III.i. before “Vittoria’s arraignment” in the following scene.
The White Devil.
Students could possibly mime the dumb show or create a tableau of certain moments from it in a drama activity.
To explore the pivotal scene of III.ii (“Vittoria’s arraignment”) in detail.
Read through the scene, discussing how we sympathise with Vittoria in this scene, even if she has “lived ill”.
Homework: Compare and contrast “The Arraignment of Vittoria” in The White Devil with lines 1067-1189 of Book IX of Paradise Lost.
Students can be encouraged to make subtle and detailed cross-references between the extracts, both of which feature a woman being accused of wrongdoing.
It may be profitable to set the classroom out as a courtroom so that the dramatic tension inherent in this scene and the importance of various actions – Vittoria ordered to stand and Brachiano offered a seat, for example, are readily apparent to the students.
H. Bruce Franklin’s essay “The Trial Scene of Webster’s The White Devil Examined in Terms of Renaissance Rhetoric”, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, I.ii. Spring 1961, is a useful piece (AO3).
This is a stretch and challenge opportunity.
To read III.iii. and IV.i. and to consider the conventions of a revenge tragedy and how far The White Devil conforms to this.
Give the students notes on the common features of a revenge tragedy- real or feigned madness (such as Flamineo’s that they have just read), scenes of bloodshed or mutilation, a hero’s quest for vengeance, the “play within a play” (such as the dumb shows”, ghosts and scenes in graveyards (such as Vittoria’s dream).
A summary of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy (easily sourced either online or in The Oxford Companion to English Literature) could be useful.
Students could consider how Lodovico in particular is characterised – he is an avenger who has murdered himself. The theme of revenge could be linked to Satan in Paradise Lost, who hoped to mar “what he Almighty styled” in revenge for his own banishment (AO3). Students might also consider the dramatic function of the “black book”. (AO2)
To read IV.ii. and to consider how Vittoria and Brachiano’s relationship has developed.
Move the figures as students read through the text to reflect how Vittoria and Brachiano are estranged and then reconciled and Flamineo’s dealings with both throughout this scene.
The paper figures representing Vittoria, Brachiano and Flamineo.
Students might consider what they have learned about Brachiano’s character from his haranguing of the (innocent) Vittoria in this scene and then swiftly retracting what he has said.
IV.iii. and to compare and contrast Milton and Webster’s presentation of religion.
Students can recap on what they know about Milton’s life and what Puritanism is (AO4). Students can debate, both in regard to Book IX and what they know if the other books in the epic, whether Milton does fulfil his aim of “justifying the ways of god to men”. The concept of Free Will could be explored.
In regard to Webster, IV.iii. contains a wealth of references to religion as Monticelso is elected to Pope despite his morality being dubious. Anti-Catholic references in The White Devil can be explored – students will recall the references to the cardinal’s robe in III.ii.
A sheet with key facts and dates relating to Protestantism and Catholicism in Britain in the seventeenth century could be useful. (AO4)
Students could see a DVD or other performance of The Duchess of Malfi and compare the Cardinal in that play with Monticelso. (AO4)
V.i. and to consider presentation of Flamineo and to compare his presentation as a villain with that of Satan.
Students can compare the difference between drama and poetry; Webster’s scenes are often witnessed by characters who act as an audience and moral judgements are pronounced by characters themselves, such as Cornelia. Milton has scope for greater authorial intervention in how he presents Satan.
Half the students could make notes on Satan’s motives, actions and characteristics and the other on Flamineo’s; they can then pair up to exchange information.
Students can consider at this point who the title of The White Devil refers to – several characters refer to Vittoria as a devil and yet the term applies equally well to other characters, including Flamineo.
To explore V.ii. and V.iii. of The White Devil.
To explore how those taking revenge are represented and how they treat Brachiano when he is on his deathbed. Students can debate as to whether Lodovico, Francisco and Gasparo demand our sympathy or whether their actions are disproportionate and alienating.
The discussion could be enlarged into a general consideration of disguise and deception in both texts. (AO3)
To explore V.iv and V.v. of The White Devil.
Whilst annotating these scenes in detail (AO2), students can consider the dramatic effects of Cornelia’s madness and the appearance of Brachiano’s ghost. Students can also once again, connect the use of floral imagery to Paradise Lost. (AO3)
The White Devil.
As literary context, students can see if they can identify allusions to Shakespeare plays in these scenes – for example, Cornelia’s madness recalls Ophelia in Hamlet with the flowers, but also Lady Macbeth with her references to the blood of Marcello being washed from Flamineo’s hands (AO4). The ghost’s appearance is also similar to some Shakespeare plays.
This is a stretch and challenge opportunity.
To explore V.vi. of The White Devil.
Presentation of death and the fear of death.
Use the fear of death as an example of drawing cross-references between the texts – students can find lines where Adam and Eve explicitly fear death as a consequence of having eaten the fruit whereas various characters in The White Devil meet their fate with different degrees of courage.
As literary context, it may be useful to compare the deaths of Vittoria and Zanche in The White Devil with those of the Duchess and Cariola in The Duchess of Malfi. Both texts show a maid and her mistress being murdered; Zanche is bolder than Cariola. (AO4)
•Comparisons which the students have found (or think they have found) may well prove more fertile as students’ confidence develops.
•At this point, they may well be encouraged to create exam questions for themselves, and to present comparative arguments to the group.
Suggested essay titles – can be used now or later in the year as revision:
“Great ambition can lead to a great fall.” In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers explore ambition.
“Innocence is ignorantly weak in the face of temptation”. In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers explore the corruption of innocence.
“Those who speak well are likely to be untrustworthy”. In the light of this view, discuss the ways in which writers present persuasive language.
“The avenger gains nothing by taking revenge.” In the light of this view, explore how writers present the consequences of vengeance.
Use Writing an F663 Question Advice on Board website) as a guide to help the group devise their own questions.
Being 'Inside the project' in this way greatly encourages confidence.
To explore the use of parallelism in both texts.
Students can be invited to explore the ways in which both texts use parallelism and the repetition of scenes. Eve’s Fall echoes Satan’s from earlier in the epic; her persuading Adam to eat the fruit is similar to the reasons Satan gave her for disobeying God; Edam and Eve’s speeches blaming each other are similar.
Equally, in The White Devil Brachiano’s poisoning recalls Isabella’s; Flamineo’s acting his own death foreshadows his actual death a short time later; Isabella’s accusations of adultery to her husband are paralleled by those he flings at Vittoria when he accuses her of infidelity. Students can work in pairs or groups to discover these or further “echoes” within the two texts.
Jacqueline Pearson discusses what she terms the “ironic repetition” in The White Devil in the fifth chapter of her book Tragedy and Tragicomedy in the plays of John Webster (Manchester University Press 1980). (AO3)
To understand what sources Milton and Webster drew inspiration from (AO4) and to consider how the two writers extended or altered the original story.
Students should read chapters two and three of Genesis, from which Milton took the story of the Fall, and discuss how he extended it into the length of an epic and what additions and adaptations, both in Book IX and elsewhere in the epic, he made. The intervention of the Son is worth notice.
Students should look at an account of the sources Webster consulted and was inspired by and read a historical account of the dealings of Vittoria Accoramboni. Students could consider what alterations Webster made to the original story and why – for example, despite portraying his Vittoria Corombona sympathetically Webster departed from his source when he implicated Vittoria in Camillo’s murder. (AO2/4)
A copy of the Authorised Version of Genesis chapters 2 and 3.
A summary of the whole of Paradise Lost so that students can see Milton’s development of the Genesis story across the whole epic.
A summary, easily obtained in most student editions, of the main sources Webster is thought to have consulted. The New Mermaids version (republished 2008) is one such edition, as is the 2011 Oxford University Press edition.
Students may benefit from a discussion of the differences between plagiarism and intertextuality and an awareness that many seventeenth century writers, including Shakespeare, would have been more willing to depend heavily upon a source than modern writers are.
To consider biographical details and the purposes of the two authors in producing those texts.
The class can be divided into two and each given a length of ribbon or a long thin strip of paper. One team will work to construct a timeline of Milton’s life and times to remain on display in the classroom, setting out points in chronological order. The other team can focus upon Webster. Original Teaching Idea At the end of the lesson, each team can look at the other’s work and a discussion can take place on how, for example, religious belief, political turmoil and views of court life possibly influenced the texts (AO4).
Copies of both texts and access to the internet or biographies.
Many student editions of Paradise Lost and The White Devil will contain detailed biographical information. In addition to this, Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns’ John Milton: Life, Work and Thought (oxford University Press, 2008), John T. Shawcross’ essay “The Life of Milton” (The Cambridge Companion to Milton, ed. Dennis Danielson, 1989, rpt 1997) and John Webster, edited by Brian Morris (Ernest Benn ltd, 1970) are some examples of useful sources (AO3/4).
Stretch and Challenge
To consider the various possible ways of reading both texts.
This is an innovation opportunity. This activity is an adaptation of the thinking hats of Edward de Bono but as a way of teaching students about critical stances. Put the students into groups of 5 – adapt if this is not possible. Give out the following caps: Marxist, Feminist, Historicist, Modern perspective and New Critic. You could also add Psychoanalytic or any other “cap” you think appropriate.
Give broad definitions of each approach/ school of thought to the students – for example, a Marxist critic might sympathise with Eve and with Flamineo as they are rebelling against the unfair status quo, whereas the Historicist would condemn Eve for not acquiescing to her husband’s will (by seventeenth century standards).
Then, give students a series of points about both texts to debate but stress that they can only contribute on the terms of the cap they have been given. For example, however tempted the New Critic is to join in a discussion about Feminism, they are restricted to a close analysis of the text independent of its historical period. The students can swap caps every two points.
Suggested points to debate – you can add others:
In both texts flower imagery is always used to convey a loss of innocence.
Revenge is never sweet in either text.
Vittoria is right to seek an escape from her loveless marriage with Camillo.
Eve’s actions are motivated by selfishness throughout Book IX of Paradise Lost.
We sympathise with Satan.
Zanche’s role in The White Devil is easy to overlook.
Caps with labels such as “Marxist” on. Obviously these can be adapted to signs or just labels.
As they debate, students will be developing their own opinions (AO1), possibly bringing in context (AO4) – such as Milton’s approval of divorce in unhappy marriages, comparing the texts (AO3) and exploring a variety of critical angles and approached (AO3). This is a useful task to revise both texts and all the AOs.