Love, War, Temptation and Menace

Ref: C3744657

We will discuss two challenging and fascinating plays, Shakespeare’s 'Troilus and Cressida' and Harold Pinter’s 'The Birthday Party'. 'Troilus and Cressida' explores the waste and pity of war and the fragility of love. With a mixture of comedy, satire and pathos, Shakespeare shows us how self-interest and vanity motivate political leaders. In 'The Birthday Party' failures of communication and mysteries about the background of the characters become increasingly intense. Is the play a parable about the absurdity and cruelty of society? How effectively does Pinter use humour to heighten the menace?

Course aim

We will consider the themes, style and structure of two contrasting plays, Shakespeare's 'Troilus and Cressida' and Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party'.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The course is for anyone who is interested in Literature. There are no entry requirements apart from an interest and enthusiasm for Literature.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Develop listening and discussion skills.
  • Comment on the social, psychological and ethical themes.
  • Analyse the themes and the use of language in key speeches.
  • Analyse the unique dramatic qualities of 'The Birthday Party'.
  • Discuss the cultural, historical and intellectual contexts.

How will I be taught?

  • Your tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning. You will be asked to take part in discussion. You will have the opportunity to introduce a topic, but this is not required.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • Your tutor will give you informal feedback on your progress. You can contact your tutor by email if you need advice or feedback. If you feel shy about participating, your tutor will give you advice about how to build up your confidence.

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring a copy of Shakespeare's play 'Troilus and Cressida’ to the first class. The Cambridge New Shakespeare edition is recommended; or the Oxford World's Classics edition. At the first session we will discuss the themes, contrasts of character, and key features of the style in Act One.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • To prepare for the first class, please think about the themes, contrasts of character, and the use of language and imagery in Act One of 'Troilus and Cressida'.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course information sheet

Love, War, Temptation and Menace


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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