I remember full well that module: the focus on the key scene; the reluctant but enforced acting; the Derridean deconstruction of Romeo and Juliet's shared sonnet as they exchange words and emotions for the first time. I remember especially pressing my students towards Romeo's juvenile but heartfelt enunciation when he first lays eyes upon Juliet:
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.
"Look at that speech," I said to my students. "Read it. Take it away from the drama and what is it?"
"Love at first sight?" came one reply.
"A bad chat-up line?" came another.
"A poem?" came one more.
"Exactly!" I shouted louder than I should have. "It's a poem! Look at the way Romeo speaks. Compare it to the way so many others speak during that scene. Romeo is speaking in a poem. He is speaking in rhyming couplets."
We then spent the rest of the lesson cross-referencing the poem and the shared sonnet with prose and with romantic poetry, particularly Shakespeare's. It was due to that lesson that I took in the class' essays and found the legendary line: "We can tell Romeo loves Juliet because he speaks about her in rhyming capulets". That line was written eight years ago by a girl who is now 23 years old, whose name I cannot remember, but whose singular line has stayed with me throughout my entire teaching career.
This week, my father sent me an email. He loved that line. I do, too. And so, in homage to that student, to my father and me and everybody else who has ever laughed when I've uttered that line in a staff-room, I offer now a blog which has as its content the best similes and metaphors ever found in GCSE essays.
These were not lines found by me. They have a place on the internet where I have selfishly ripped them from. I take no credit for their organisation. But I love them. And I hope you will, too. If you haven't read them already.
By the way, the last one is absolute genius.
Even in his last years, Grandad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at secondary schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the centre.
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like an old pair of underpants in a washing machine.
It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Southampton at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55 mph, the other from Oxford at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a potato sack filled with vegetable soup.
She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open.
She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the full-stop after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.
The brick-red wall was the colour of a red brick.
The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.