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Interactive video lesson plan for: In a pickle - Shakespeare Speaks

Activity overview:

Learn the meaning and use of the phrase 'in a pickle' from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest

For the transcript click 'SHOW MORE'.

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It was a chilly November evening. William Shakespeare's play The Tempest, full of music, magic and monsters, is being performed for the first time. King James I and the Queen are having dinner while they watch.

King James
I do like a good play… mmm… and this meat is delicious - bring me more of that pickle… Mmmm… I love a bit of pickle with my dinner… and a nice glass of wine…

Don't you think you've had enough wine, dear?

King James
Oh do be quiet dear: I can't hear the actors. Now, Mr Shakespeare, is that a King I see on the stage?

Your Majesty, that is King Alonso of Naples. He is lost on a magical island.

King James
And who is this fellow in the jester's costume?

Your Majesty, that is Trinculo. He drinks a lot, and plans to murder people.

King James
A drunken jester? Murder? No good will come of it… does the King know about this?

Yes, your Majesty. Now, the King is going to find Trinculo - in a drunken mess. Your Majesty might care to listen…

King James
Ooh yes, yes, I want to hear this, be quiet everybody.

How camest thou in this pickle?

Robert Harley as Trinculo
I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing.

King James
Hahaha! He's in a pickle! I like it, Will, very good, very good!

We'll leave them there for now. Pickles are a very messy food, made from fruit and vegetables, crushed and preserved in vinegar and spices - sometimes with alcohol too. When Trinculo says he is in a pickle, he's probably saying that he is very drunk - but he's also got himself into a mess - a very difficult situation. Nowadays, when someone has drunk a lot of alcohol, they can say: I'm pickled - and when they've got problems, they can say: I'm in a pickle. Take The Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth, who said:

Clip 1
Most of the time if I'm in a pickle I'll call one of my brothers. They've usually got somewhat uplifting advice.

Clip 2
Ooh, you're in a pickle with those bags aren't you? Let me help.

King James
Now Mr Shakespeare, sit down and eat with us. Have some cold meat!

Anything with that?

Hmmm… To pickle, or not to pickle: that is the question.

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