Both of these packages provide an extremely thorough study of the play involved. The first program on The Merchant of Venice is concerned with linking events to plots and themes. If, for instance, the event is that 'Antonio discusses the reasons for his sadness with friends', the student has to match this with a choice of four plots and eight themes. If Money is selected as the correct theme, the computer responds by asking the student to consider the friendship theme as well. The Plots program takes things a step further by presenting various events from each Act, and then asking the student to construct the play's chronological order. The final two programs. Write and Quotes, involve a very thorough knowledge of the actual text of the play. Write displays incomplete paragraphs taken from the play and the student has to complete them. Different levels of difficulty are available: for instance, if 'Portia and Mercy and the Law' is chosen at the easiest of the five levels of difficulty, the screen display begins, 'Disguised -- Balthasar. Portia has -- task of saving Antonio while upholding the law, as T---- is no power in V--- can after -decree - - - - - -
At this level the words omitted could be guessed by anyone, but at the most difficult level, the paragraph is presented in dashes only! It is, however, possible to cheat - pressing X displays the completed paragraph on the screen. Quotes begins by inviting the student to select a character and theme, and the computer displays the Act and Scene together with a quotation which has to be completed. Again, a cheat facility is provided, and a helpful comment is given to provoke further thought.
Henry IV Part 1 has similar Write, Plot and Quote programs, but this time begins with a 'family Tree' task, so that the student has some appreciation of the reasons underlying the political tension in the play. The next program, Relate, focuses attention on the relationships between the characters, and these are displayed diagrammatically together with useful comments.
Any student working their way successfully through either of the literature packages would end up as a candidate for the black chair of 'Mastermind.
CONTROL KEYS: Apart from the problems in the Chemistry suite, the control keys are clearly explained and are easy to use.
KEYBOARD PLAY: Very responsive
USE of COLOUR: Simple but clear.
GRAPHICS: Used to good effect
Revision programs like these are, generally speaking, only as good as the student using them. Used sensibly in conjunction with other study methods, they do have a useful role to play, but it has to be understood that, on their own, these packages will not miraculously ensure A grade passes!
The family tree sprouts on screen during execution of the Letts revision program which takes Shakespeare into the computer age. HENRY V Part 1.
Plots and themes explored with the Letts revision guide to THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.