What is important for students to know about Act II, scene ii, in Romeo and Juliet, and how can I, as their teacher, make them learn it?
I don't believe that you can make anyone do or learn anything. As the old saying goes: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Maybe it would be helpful for you to focus on the things about the scene that you really like, the things that you think are very neat or cool, so that your enthusiasm might be contagious to the students?
Here are some things about the scene that, for me, make it an exciting and interesting one.
- The scene opens with tons of dramatic suspense, created because Romeo is in the garden of his enemies. Will he be discovered? Will he have to fight one of his Capulet enemies?
- Juliet is, in terms of her language, a much more straightforward, direct, and "masculine" character. It's Romeo who has all the very flowery and romantic descriptions of things. These characters (who go against the masculine and feminine stereotypes) might have been created by Shakespeare to have fun with the fact that he knew young men of almost the exactly the same age would play these two characters. Have your class read parts of the scenes, interchanging guys and gals reading Romeo and Juliet.
- Talk with your students about the fact that, except for the light in Juliet's window, the scene is meant to be taking place in the dark. This means that, at least at first, Romeo can see her, but she can't see him. Discuss how this affects the scene and at what point in the text it might be that Juliet finally sees Romeo.
- Some of this text is the most famous in all of the English language. For example "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" is very famous, but often erroneously assumed to mean "Where are you, Romeo?" So, it might be illuminating to pick out some of the more famous lines and examine them for their images and correct meanings with your students.
Again, the key is really to find the parts of the scene that interest and excite you. This will give you the greatest chance of success with teaching the scene to your students. For more about "the balcony scene," please follow the links below.