Shakespearean Mnemonics: Tragedies

Published on Sunday, January 27, 2008 in , , , ,

William ShakespeareHave you been practicing the Shakespearean histories? Once you're comfortable with those, you're ready to move on to the tragedies. The histories were remembered with a systematic method, but the tragedies will require a different approach.

The 12 tragedies are, in the order they appear in the First Folio of Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and Cymbeline. To remember this list, we'll be using the Link and Story systems.

First up is Troilus and Cressida. This can be made easier to remember by picturing Star Trek's Deanna Troi driving a Toyota Cressida. You could also picture her visiting the moon of Uranus, or performing with the progressive rock band, but the futuristic nature of Deanna Troi combined with a car from the past helps make the image more ridiculous and memorable.

For Coriolanus, you could picture the Roman general, but not everyone is familiar with him. As an alternative, you might use Cornholio, the classic Beavis and Butthead character (may not be suitable for some teens and pre-teens). So, you're picturing Deanna Troi driving an old Toyota Cressida (Troilus and Cressida), when she has to slam on the brakes to avoid running over Cornholio (Coriolanus).

Next, is Titus Andronicus. I use another Star Trek image here, that of Data, who is an android that comes across as somewhat uptight. After avoiding Cornholio, Troi drives her Cressida on to pick up this uptight android (or, in my imaginary version of Latin, Titus Andronicus!). They drive off to perform together in the title roles of Romeo and Juliet (Perhaps produced by Beverly Crusher?).

Note that I don't use a substitute image for Romeo and Juliet, since the play is well-known enough that characters and images from the play easily come to mind. Already, you should have linked Troilus and Cressida to Coriolanus to Titus Andronicus to Romeo and Juliet. You're already a third of the way there!

As Trio and Data are rehearsing a romantic embrace from Romeo and Juliet, they are interrupted by Timon from The Lion King, who is wearing a toga. When asked who he is, he replies that he is Timon of Athens! Timon says he is here to hide them from Julius Caesar, who is looking for them (Hey, if you can't trust a guy wearing a toga about Julius Caesar . . .)!

Timon drags Troi and Data into the only place handy, a giant model of a Macintosh Computer that is running iTunes, which is playing the video for Beth. In other words, they're hiding in a giant Mac/Beth unit. However, just as the video ends, Julius Caesar figures out where they are, and uses a small pig, not a full ham but rather a ham-lette, to pull them out.

Are you still imagining this bizarre story in your mind? You should by now be able to remember Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Only 4 more images to go, and you'll be able to recall all 12 Shakespearean tragedies!

As the ham-lette pulls Troi, Timon and Data out and hands them over to Julius Caesar, he turns around to give them to a king (King Arthur? Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll? King of Diamonds? You choose!), who leers at them in a menacing manner. To escape this king's leer, the three of them throw an Othello board and pieces at him, and run out of the room. The king finds that the Othello board and pieces are sticking to him, as if glued.

He dives into the Mediterranean Sea (Why not? After all, we've been dealing with Timon of Athens and Julius Caesar of Rome). The Mediterranean proves too powerful, and sweeps this king all the way over to Egypt, where he washes ashore at the feet of Antony and Cleopatra. They are suspicious of this king, so they use a cymbal from a nearby set of drums, and draw a line in the Egyptian sand. As the king looks at this line, confused, Antony and Cleopatra hit him with the cymbal, making him fall right onto the cymbal line (Cymbeline).

That's all of the tragedies! Go over this story a few times to make sure you've got the images, and their associated plays (also, so you don't accidentally claim that Cornholio is a Shakespearean play).

Try a quick review right now. What was the first image? Troi driving a Cressida, representing Troilus and Cressida. Who did she almost run into? Cornholio, which should bring Coriolanus to mind! She avoids him, picks up Data, the Titus Andronicus, with whom Troi performs Romeo and Juliet. At the moment of the big kiss, Timon of Athens warns them to hide from Julius Caesar in a giant Mac/Beth unit. A ham-lette pulls them out, and takes them to a king. The three then escape from the king by throwing an Othello board at him. The Othello board and pieces stick, so this king washes them off by swimming over to Egpyt, where he runs into Antony and Cleopatra, who promptly knock him into their cymbal line (Cymbeline). Got it?

If you want to link this list to the Shakespearean histories you learned in the previous post, you might picture J. R. Henry selling the Cressida to Deanna Troi. Once you think you've got it, try the Shakespeare Quiz, and you should be able to get a score of at least 22 by naming all the histories and all the tragedies!

I'll wind up both January and the Shakespearean Mnemonics series in my next post by teaching you his 16 comedies!

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