Effect of the Extract on the Audience

Effect of the Extract on the Audience

As has been mentioned in previous sections, you need to show an awareness of how the scenes would effect the audience.

You may be expected to consider the following issues:

  • In what way do the audience's feelings and attitudes develop during the course of the extract?
  • Do the audience feel the same about the characters or situation at the end of the scene as they did at the beginning? What causes their change?
  • What is the key dramatic moment in the scene?
  • Do the audience appreciate the significance of the scene at the time?
  • Which techniques are used to influence the audience?
  • Do the characters speak directly to the audience, use asides, or speak to each other?
  • How does Shakespeare build up the tension during the extract?
  • Are there problems with staging the scene? Is it easier to overcome them within the modern theatre?
  • Does Shakespeare use descriptive language to describe events that would be difficult to portray on the stage?
  • Does Shakespeare use irony? If so how is it used?
  • Does a character do something which the audience later realises is ironic?

This is called covert irony. It is important that you explain that at this particular stage in the play the audience do not fully realise this irony.

For example:

Lear rejecting the only daughter who truly loves him or Macbeth taking faith in the statements of the witches about Birnham wood and so on.

Alternatively, the irony may be explicit such as with Malvolio dressing up in cross garters in Twelfth Night. The audience is fully aware of the irony at the time. This is called overt irony. This would also be regarded as comic irony.

The final example of irony that may occur in the scene is dramatic irony. This is when the audience realise that something that happens or has been said is ironic but the characters are not aware of this.

An issue that you may be expected to consider is how the scene would be staged. In this case, you need to consider the behaviour and appearance of the characters. When would you set the piece? Consider use of the stage and lighting and how this would affect the scene.

Note: not all exam boards expect you to do this. Ask your English teacher if this is likely.

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