Timon of Athens

As with the other essay assignments for this course, your paper should have a thesis that presents an interpretation of some aspect of the play (Timon of Athens) and you should rely on quotations more than summary for your supporting evidence. A good rule of thumb is to use 1-2 quotations per paragraph. Cite quoted lines by following the passage with the act, scene and line numbers in parentheses (like this: 5.1.25-27). If you quote 3 lines or less, you may keep them in your paragraphs and show the line breaks via slashes (example: “One only daughter have I, no kin else/On whom I may confer what I have got” (1.1.121-122). Quotations of more than 3 lines from the play should be indented 10 spaces with lines of poetry typed out as they appear on the paper (in other words, don’t run lines of poetry together). Because this is a play with characters speaking, even indented quotations need quotation marks. The title of the play, Timon of Athens should be italicized (not put in quotation marks) and, after typing out the complete title the first time, you may shorten it to Timon for the rest of your paper. Choose one of the following prompts: 1)How would you characterize the play’s attitude towards money? Timon obviously doesn’t think money is very important, and he keeps giving it away both before and after his downfall. But what do you think Shakespeare wanted the reader or audience to think about money and the way it is used in the play as a whole? Are we supposed to adopt Timon’s attitude or reject it? What about the other characters in the play and the way they think about money? Is there anyone besides Flavius, Timon’s steward, who thinks about money in a way that seems decent and beneficial? 2)Write an analysis of the ending of scene 3 in Act 4 of the play where Timon speaks with the thieves who come to steal his gold. Scene 3 is very long and starts with Timon digging for roots after having left Athens to go live in the woods. While digging, he accidentally discovers a lot of gold. Later Apemantus comes to visit and sees the gold and predicts that many people will come to visit Timon once word gets out about the gold (“Thou wilt be thronged to shortly” 4.3.392). Apemantus leaves the scene in line 395 and the bandits (thieves) appear in line 396. They leave in line 455 and then the Steward appears and the scene ends about 100 lines later with Flavius (the steward) leaving. First, explain what is important about Timon’s discussion with the thieves, and then discuss the meaning of seeing the thieves appear in this scene followed by Timon’s steward. What do we gain by this progression from the thieves to the Steward? (You may refer to the Steward by his calling or by his name-Flavius). 3)What might Timon’s financial situation have to say about money and commerce in Shakespeare’s time and our own time? Do not settle on a simple answer such as Timon is too eager to give away money, but look rather at the circulation of money throughout the play as it affects other characters as well. You might consider focusing on some of the metaphors for money or commercial activity that the play presents. Is all commerce just disguised thievery? Is it all a form of prostitution? Is money a “yellow slave” (see Act 4. iii. 34) that can overpower social structures, change religions, or cause people to marry the horribly ugly widow? Do we have to “eat men” as the flatterers eat Timon to survive? Be sure to use specific examples (quotations!) if you choose to write on this topic. 4)Three of Timon’s friends, Lucullus, Lucius, and Sempronius, refuse to lend him money in Act 3. Yet 3 other friends, Alicibiades, Apemantus, and Flavius (the steward) try to reconnect with and comfort him once he has retreated to the woods after going broke. Yet Timon rejects all three of them. What kind of conclusion can we draw from this? Should we adopt Timon’s belief that all men are greedy and without redeeming qualities, or does the play suggest a different position?


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