Violent Delights and Violent Ends: Romeo and Juliet
Adapted by Mark Rounds
|California Language Arts Content Standards|
|Standards Addressed in this Unit|
TEACHING AND LEARNING ACTIVITIESSelect and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:
To engage students in preparatory research, see Shakespeare's England.
- To find out more about Shakespeare and his world, students are assigned
mini research topics in small groups. They are given one period in the
library in which to find answers to their assigned research questions. This
activity will be facilitated by alerting the librarian to the research needs
of the group well before the activity is to take place. The research
questions differ in their degree of difficulty and should be assigned
If Internet access is available then these sites on Shakespeare's life and times will prove useful:
- Students report back to the class the results of their research findings
in 3-minute mini seminars, using visual aids (eg. pictures, charts and
overhead transparencies) wherever possible.
- Shakespeare's Theatre - students investigate how the play would have been performed originally by reading information about the Globe Theatre, taking a virtual tour of the original Globe Theatre, or a virtual tour of the reconstructed theatre or viewing the original de Witt drawing of 'The Swan'.
- Variation 1 - Role play - Engaging with key ideas in contemporary
- Variation 2 - Plot scaffolding - ripping into the text.
- Variation 3 - Plot scaffolding though other works.
- Preparing students to enjoy Shakespeare's Language.
See also, In Search of
- Learning Log/Journal - Students choose either Romeo or Juliet. Each
night they make an entry in role in their learning log that traces that
character's changing feelings and experiences through the play. Every 3-4
periods teachers could pair a Romeo with a Juliet and get them to share
their entries. A more traditional alternative would be to have students
answer plot questions as they read through the play.
- Use a variety of drama games to highlight points, deepen understanding and increase enjoyment of the play.
- Reading through the play can be most rewarding and useful when a
variety of approaches are used.
- Students could examine some of the key language features of the play in
groups, closely linking these to the ideas they help convey. Groups could be
assigned one of the following areas to report back to the whole class on:
- images of light and darkness
- images of violence, inappropriate haste
- images of the stars
- the use of oxymorons
- other contrasts (eg. the difference between the way Romeo speaks of his love for Rosaline and the way he speaks to or about Juliet; the contrast between Romeo and Juliet when they speak of love in the balcony scene; contrasts between the older and younger generations in their use of language; the differences in the language used by servants and the other characters in the play).
- After the play has been 'read' in the ways outlined, students can
engage in a number of activities to heighten appreciation and deepen
understanding prior to preparing for the assessment activity.
- Form groups of character 'experts' who will be questioned in role after
they have had a chance to come to some agreed positions on
key features of the character.
- In pairs students could explore the use of
contrast in the content of
the play. Each member of the pair takes 1 aspect of the listed contrasting
situations and characters, notes down the key features of their subject and
compares this with their partner's list. Together they work out why
Shakespeare has used this contrast and what features of staging (eg. set
design, costume, delivery, grouping, lighting they would use to underscore
the contrast for an audience).
Pairs can then form revolving groups of four to teach other class members what they have found out about Shakespeare's use of contrast.
- As an individual written activity, students examine the
idea of fate in
- Defend a statement. Individually or in small groups students choose one
of the statements about the play and defend it to the class basing their
defence on evidence from the play, including quotations.
- Students select or are assigned a part of a scene for performance to an audience. This forms the assessment activity for this unit and expectations are communicated in the rubric that should be shared with students.
- Form groups of character 'experts' who will be questioned in role after they have had a chance to come to some agreed positions on key features of the character.
Links for Students
- Rewriting Romeo and Juliet
This webquest asks students to translate a scene from the play to one of these time periods - the Wild West, Mob-ridden Chicago, 50s Suburbia, and the 1960 Counterculture.
ASSESSMENTIn groups students perform for an audience an extract from a scene. They should demonstrate their understandings of characters, ideas and language utilising visual, verbal and dramatic features. The rubric provides explicit guidance to students on what is expected from them in this task.
This Rubric contains other unit standard based assessment possibilities based upon studying either the play or the film of Romeo and Juliet:
- Stylishly Shakespearean
- Will Power Part 1: Close Reading
- Will Power Part 2: Essay
When revising for an examination, have students identify and comment on the importance of the list of important quotations from the play.
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works
This is a very comprehensive site with links to the complete works including background information, biographical information and pictures, information about Elizabethan theatres, a Shakespearean dictionary, the first folio, quotes, a quiz and a discussion forum.
- Life in Elzabethan England
- The Shakespearean Homework Helper
- Surfing with the Bard
- Talking to Shakespeare
- Cliffnotes Quiz
- A Shakespeare Glossary
- Shakespeares' England
- Much Ado About Something
Is it possible that William Shakespeare was the nom-de-plume of Christopher Marlowe, the 16 century English playwright? This site explores the evidence and the conflicting viewpoints.
- In Search of Shakespeare
A PBS resource to support the television series which includes, teaching resources, a playwright game and information on Shakespeare's life and times.
- No Fear Shakespeare
A site which presents the language of Shakespeare's plays side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English.
- Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet
- Film version(s) of Romeo and Juliet.
FOLLOW UPThis unit could lead into (or be substituted by) a film study of either or both the Zeffirelli (1968) or the Lurhman (1997) films based on the play. Many of the activities in the English Level 2 Assessment Guide would be particularly suitable for this. A useful introductory resource is Shakespeare Illustrated - a selection of paintings and drawings based upon Romeo and Juliet.
The Romeo and Juliet Theme Page offers a wealth of resources for teachers and students. If your students struggle with the language of Shakespeare, consider beginning with the Friendship Cards from Romeo and Juliet activity.