How does one approach writing reader-response questions concerning Act 3 in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?
The questions have to be:
Three knowledge-based questions: Require recalling information.
Three inference-based questions: Require someone to apply prior knowledge
Three evaluation questions: Require someone to make judgements about important events, etc.
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As we are limited in space, below is an explanation of the types of questions you need to think of, some tips for helping you do so, as well as a few ideas to help get you started.
Knowledge-based questions are the easiest kind to think about. All it requires is for you to look over Act 3 again and take note of any details that peak your interest. The purpose of knowledge-based questions is to test the answerer's knowledge on the subject. You want to find out if the answerer really read the play and especially if the answerer actually understood what he/she read. If you were to test an answerer's knowledge on Scene 1 of Act 3, one possible question might be, was Romeo provided with the opportunity to escape fighting Tybalt out of revenge? If the reader had been paying close enough attention, the reader would have noticed that Tybalt actually fled the scene immediately after stabbing Mercutio, and had Romeo fled as well, the play's tragic ending would have been prevented. We know that Tybalt flees the scene because Benvolio declares, "Here comes the furious Tybalt back again" (III.i.122).
To infer something is to draw a conclusion based on something you already know. Therefore, an inference-based question requires the answerer to draw conclusions, or inferences, in order to think of an answer. In addition, in order to think of these sorts of questions, you, the question asker, must also be able to make inferences yourself. One way to do this is to think about different pieces of the puzzle. For example one puzzling aspect of Act 3 concerns why exactly Capulet has suddenly switched from thinking Juliet is far too young to marry and that her own consent is crucial to thinking she should be married to Paris right away. While the scene in which Capulet tells Paris to prepare for the wedding day on Thursday does not explicitly state any of Capulet's reasons for his sudden change of mind, we are given a subtle clue in Capulet's lines, "Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender / Of my child's love" (III.iv.12-13). We also see Lady Capulet explain to Juliet in a later scene that Capulet wants Juliet to marry Paris as a distraction from her grief. Hence, from these two pieces of knowledge, we can infer that Capulet has had this sudden change of mind because he is very concerned by the extent of what he thinks is Juliet's grief over Tybalt and wants to marry her as a distraction. Therefore, one type of inference-based question could be, why does Capulet so suddenly change his mind about having his daughter wait two more years before marrying?
An evaluation-based question is the type of question that requires the most analysis. Specifically, to evaluate something is "to judge [its] significance [or] worth" (Random House D). Again, being able to ask an evaluation-based question requires the question asker to do some evaluating of his/her own. Some things to consider are, what is the significance of a particular scene? What is the consequences of a particular action? Could those consequences have been prevented?
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