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Romeo and Juliet Act 4 Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

In Act IV of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet plots to escape her destiny with the help of Friar Laurence. This lesson plan helps to show your students how Shakespeare used the excitement felt by Lord Capulet as a balance to the despair of Juliet, and how tragedy can hide in the shadows of excitement.

Lesson Objectives

With this lesson plan, your students will be able to:

  • describe the events of Act 4 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
  • analyze the language of the scene, updating parts of it so that it may sound for them what it sounded like for Elizabethan English speakers

Notes

  • This lesson plan assumes that each scene will be read either just before or just after completing the relevant lesson for that scene. As a result, the activity is designed for classes that have completed the scene.

Length

120 - 150 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.9

Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

Key Vocabulary

  • Fate
  • Deception
  • Opulent
  • Personifies

Instructions

  • Start by asking students what they expect to happen in Act IV. What are the existing conflicts? In short, review Acts I-III.
  • As was mentioned earlier, this lesson plan is designed to be used by classes that have either just finished reading each scene or are about to read each scene. As such, once the class has read the scene, ask students to identify a passage from each that they thought showed considerable foreshadowing or irony, since so much of Act IV is about the impending doom of Romeo and Juliet. This can be done following each lesson or as the next-day lead in to a new component of this lesson plan, at your discretion.
  • Now read the lesson Romeo and Juliet Act 4 - Scene 1 Summary, discussing the following points:
    • Ask students what they think motivates the Friar to question his previous actions.
    • Ask students if they think anything could go wrong here.
  • Next read the lesson Romeo and Juliet Act 4 - Scene 2 Summary, again discussing these points:
    • Ask students if they think Friar Laurence expected to be thanked for his services.
    • How is Lord Capulet blinded by his happiness?
  • Read the lesson Romeo and Juliet Act 4 - Scene 3 Summary, discuss:
    • Who does Juliet feel betrays her?
    • How do we see the depth of Juliet's character?
    • Ultimately, what does the choice that she makes tell us about Juliet?
  • Read the lesson Romeo and Juliet Act 4 - Scene 4 Summary, then consult this list of prompts:
    • How is Lord Capulet a counter-balance to Juliet in terms of feelings about the wedding?
    • How is all this excitement a contrast to the tragedy that we know is coming?
  • Finally, read the lesson Romeo and Juliet Act 4 - Scene 5 Summary, keeping these questions in mind:
    • Is there a certain irony in the nurse's dirty jokes?
    • How do we know that Lady Capulet actually loves Juliet?
    • How does Friar Laurence try to calm everyone? What does he know that they don't'?

Activity

  • Break your class into five groups, assigning each group a scene.
  • Ask each group to rewrite the most important parts of the scene in modern English.
  • For one important passage for each scene, turn the dialogue into a rap, keeping rhythm and rhyme scheme throughout (just like Shakespeare would have done!)

Extensions

  • Have students compare Act IV of Romeo and Juliet to other storylines in contemporary literature, film, and other arts.
  • How does Shakespeare build an impending feeling of doom throughout the text? Point to specific passages.

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