Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Activities

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Shakespeare can be difficult for students to understand at the literal level, much less at a figurative or interpretive one. These activities will help students become more confident readers and interpreters of Shakespeare.

Teaching Act II of Romeo and Juliet

Four important concepts from this act are structure, theme, characterization, and the use of foreshadowing. The activities below have been designed to teach these concepts while reaching a variety of learning styles, and student ability levels. Choose the activity that best fits your class, your available technology, and your time frame for teaching the play.

Plot Structure Activity

Act II contains some of the most hopeful scenes in the play, as Shakespeare elevates the emotions of the audience as a set up for the crash of Act III. This act contains the balcony scene where the young couple profess their love, some playful short scenes where Mercutio teases Romeo, Romeo teases the Nurse, and the Nurse teases Juliet. The act ends with the couple meeting in secret to marry. This play, like many of Shakespeare's, uses a five act dramatic structure that starts with exposition and has the conflict established in Act I, rising action in Act II, a climax in Act III, falling action in Act IV, and a resolution in Act V. In the last few decades, many television shows have adopted a similar plot structure. Choose one of these television shows to show, that will be high interest and appropriate for the class, and have them individually pick out the five parts. Come to a class consensus on the plot structure of the TV show. Then, have the students, in groups, create storyboards (either on paper or online) that explain how events from the first two acts fit this plot structure. As you move forward in the play, continue to return to these groups to add to the storyboards.

Textual Evidence Activity

Act II may come across as the most hopeful and lightest of the five acts, but it has its dark moments as well. The Nurse and the Friar both make comments that foreshadow the play's tragic end. Romeo waves it off, but Tybalt has made it known that he plans to hunt down Romeo. On a large sheet of chart paper, or on a whiteboard, create a chart that contains light quotes about love on the left and quotes that foreshadow tragedy on the right. Invite students to search the act for quotes that fit both categories and add them to the chart. Lead the class in the creation of a thesis statement about Act II. The short essays written to support this common thesis should draw upon the quote board for supporting evidence.

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