This is FRONTLINE's old website. The content here may be outdated or no longer functioning.

Browse over 300 documentaries
on our current website.

Watch Now
homeprevious reportswatch onlineusteacher centernewsletteremail FRONTLINEFRONTLINE (home)
Roots of Terrorism
teachers guide

Student Assignment Sheet: Much Ado About Something

Viewing Worksheet

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Pre-Viewing Discussion Questions
  • Preparation for Viewing

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Debriefing Discussion
  • Help with Reading Poetry
  • Which Text Should We Read?
  • Parodies of Shakespeare
  • Further Activities with Language

  • Internet Resources

    Student Assignment Sheets
  • Shakespeare's Language (with answers)
  • Viewing Worksheet
  • How to Read a Poem
  • Some Sonnets by Shakespeare
  • To Be or Not To Be -- Three Versions
  • Some people and ideas you will confront in the documentary:

    Calvin Hoffman's book challenging Shakespeare's authorship was the inspiration for filmmaker Michael Rubbo's interest in the authorship controversy. Hoffman believed that Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare's contemporary, was the author of the plays.

    • How does Hoffman explain Marlowe's apparent death in a tavern in Deptford in 1593?
    • What political forces would have made Marlowe fake his own death? (If you have time, look up the "free thinkers" and the Privy Council of Renaissance England.)
    • Where does Hoffman (and Rubbo) believe Marlowe ended up?

    . . . . .

    John Baker from Centralia, Wash. (near Seattle) is a Marlovian.

    • What are some of the points he makes, especially regarding the literacy of Shakespeare and Shakespeare's daughters?
    • What is the point Baker makes about Shakespeare's lack of education and library?

    . . . . .

    Dolly Walker-Wraight from England is the "grande-dame" of the Marlovians.

    • What does Walker-Wraight say about the lack of notice and praise when Shakespeare died?
    • Why does she think this is important?

    . . . . .

    Professor Jonathan Bate is a Stratfordian, or supporter of Shakespeare as the author.

    • How does he respond to Walker-Wraight's point about Shakespeare's death going unremarked?
    • How does he respond to Rubbo in general?

    . . . . .

    Charles Nicholl is the author of The Reckoning, and is an anti-Marlovian.

    • What does he report about Marlowe's heresies?

    . . . . .

    BIG QUESTIONS to think about after viewing the documentary:

    • What do you think about Rubbo's theory? Could the voices in the plays be a collaboration, with the high, learned ones coming from Marlowe and the lower ones, representing "the heart and soul of merry England," coming from Shakespeare?

    • Was Shakespeare then the "hidden partner" as Rubbo suggests?

    • Why does this 400-year old mystery still evoke such passionate responses?

    home » previous reports » watch online » about us » teacher center » newsletter » email FRONTLINE
    privacy policy » wgbh » pbsi

    web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation