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    Hey there,

    I've got to teach and entire seminar on the Alchemist and I'm needing some help on what I can actually do with it that gets the class intersted and how what I can do can relate to themes etc

    Any help is appreciated
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    (Original post by ooga)
    Hey there,

    I've got to teach and entire seminar on the Alchemist and I'm needing some help on what I can actually do with it that gets the class intersted and how what I can do can relate to themes etc

    Any help is appreciated
    As nobody else has replied I will try, however it is now thirty years since I read the play in first year, so the following is less than cohesive.


    You don't say at what level, however a way to grab attention at the outset might be to turn base metal into gold. You could ask an obliging member of the Science Faculty.

    Failing the above a quick clip from "Blackadder" when Percy creates "Green", copyright permitting, might get things going.

    The play being a comic attack on avarice, a contrast with our current fiscal issues and our fallen "Masters of the Universe" could work. (Edit: maybe consider the Madoff scandal as a better current day topical comparison. Johnson's writing appears therefore timeless because human nature has not changed)

    If the students have studied "A Midsummer Night Dream" you could compare the comic vision of Johnson with that of Shakespeare, maybe contrasting the more cutting ridicule of the former with the gentler approach of the latter.

    You could also contrast Johnson's realism with Shakespeare's fairy tale world.

    Contrast the characters; Johnson's are ordinary, real, Shakespeare's, in part, of noble standing/ magical form.

    Maybe look at how natural Johnson's comedy is compared with the more contrived work by Shakespeare.

    Consider Alchemy as a caricature of Christianity, use of words in common e.g exalted, state of grace, spirit. ( Act I, s 1 lines 68-70) (per a footnote in a very old essay.)

    Consider how vivid the London described by Johnson is, maybe contrast with say Dicken's London portraits.

    Examine the pace of the play, the scenes moving cleanly from one to another, few awkward lapses.

    Consider Johnson's at first glance inappropriate imagery, e.g. Dol Common described as "The Fairy Queen" Consider Johnson's argument that although individuals may enact a "part" they wish to play, but always they need to return to their lower "base" style, like the base metals in Alchemy.

    Also the point of just retribution: justice is not meted out to the Alchemist. Why? What does this say of Johnson's world view? The con man will always prevail in the face of human avarice.

    Alchemy does of course work in Johnson's world. It transmutes the gold of the gullible to the Alchemist.

    Trust this helps,

    DJKL
 
 
 
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