Romeo and Juliet - Lesson Plans and Activities

William Shakespeare

  • Romeo and Juliet Literary Devices Owl Eyes Lesson Plan

    Literary Devices: Constructing Love with Metaphors in Romeo and Juliet Act II, scene ii This lesson plan asks students to analyze the lovers’ first exchange in the famous balcony scene in order to determine how Juliet uses rhetoric to correct Romeo’s romantic discourse and ground his idealized love in reality. Students will closely examine Romeo and Juliet’s language in Act II, scene ii to notice the difference in the metaphors both characters use: Juliet creates more logical metaphors that advance her thought process and dialogue, whereas Romeo crafts metaphors that resemble unrealistic tropes of Petrarchan love poetry. Students will discuss their interpretations of these metaphors with their peers and determine to what extent Juliet converts Romeo’s unrealistic romantic love into real love. Upon completing this lesson plan, students will be able to analyze complex metaphors and use their analysis to evaluate the romantic relationship in Romeo and Juliet.

  • Romeo and Juliet Character Analysis Owl Eyes Lesson Plan

    Character Analysis: Mercutio and the Death of the Festive Clown in Act III, Scene i This lesson plan focuses on how Mercutio’s character underscores the turning point between comedy and tragedy in Romeo and Juliet. Students will closely examine the tone, motivation, and language of Mercutio’s lines in Act III, Scene i in order to analyze his character and examine how his dialogue signals a transition in his character and the tone of the play. Working with their peers and as a group, students will share their observations and identify the moment when Mercutio shifts from being a comedic character to a serious one. Upon completing this lesson plan, students will be better able to explain how Mercutio’s death represents the transition from comedy to tragedy in Romeo and Juliet. Skills Close reading; character analysis; drawing inferences from dialogue; textual interpretation

  • Romeo and Juliet eNotes Lesson Plan

    One of Shakespeare’s best known tragedies, even to those who have never read his works, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet continues to ignite the imagination and the heart in its exploration of the passionate nexus of love and death and the ironies of fate. Of all the Bard’s plays, none has proved to be so accessible and inspiring to so many different audiences. One famous contemporary adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is West Side Story, both a Broadway hit and a popular film; in this modern version of Shakespeare’s story, the Montagues and the Capulets of Verona are represented by the Jets and the Sharks, rival gangs pitted against each other in New York City. Also, music stars, such as Taylor Swift, have alluded to the play in song. In our vernacular, to be a “Romeo” is to be both a true romantic and a passionate lover. The definition reflects Shakespeare’s very clear message in the drama: Romantic love and passion are essentially intertwined. Although Romeo and Juliet has become synonymous with tragic romance and “star-crossed” lovers, the play is, in fact, very bawdy; clever and risqué double entendres appear throughout. While modern readers may fix on the chaste “balcony scene” in which the lovers adore each other from a distance, it is to this same window that a rope ladder is affixed, so that Romeo can reach Juliet’s bed chamber and consummate their marriage. Characters such as the nurse and Mercutio, especially the latter, serve to gently lampoon the Petrarchan model of courtly love that held up a saintly and untouchable lady as the idealized object of pure devotion. For Romeo and Juliet, love is not metaphorical; it is spiritual and carnal, passionate and all-consuming. Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, which is based on an Italian novella, around 1593, following a hiatus when the London theaters were closed because of plague. During the time he was not writing for the stage, Shakespeare explored the subject of erotic desire through his poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, each based on work by the Roman poet, Ovid. Shortly after the theaters reopened, he wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream and then Romeo and Juliet. Some scholars feel these two plays—a comedy darkened by serious themes and a tragedy marked by flashes of deliberate comic relief—portray two sides of the same coin: the complexities and sometimes disastrous consequences of falling in love. Set in Verona, Italy, Romeo and Juliet opens with an argument between the servants of two prominent and long-feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo, a Montague, and two friends decide to attend a ball hosted by Lord Capulet. Wearing masks to disguise themselves, Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio attend the ball, where Romeo meets the beautiful Juliet and falls instantly in love. Later that night Romeo goes to Juliet’s window, and they exchange vows of devotion. Romeo enlists the help of Friar Laurence, who agrees to marry the young lovers in hopes of ending the long-standing feud between their two families. Passion abounds in Verona, however, fueling the impetuous desires of the young lovers and spilling blood in the streets; a series of fated events results, culminating in Romeo’s and Juliet’s suicides. As love dies, so too does hatred; the warring families promise to end their hostili- ties, which have cost them their only children. As in other Shakespearean plays, the language and the cultural conventions in Romeo and Juliet may seem foreign or dated, but the themes remain as true and as relevant to modern readers as they were to Shakespeare’s Elizabethan audiences. While modern teens might question the hastily arranged wedding between Juliet and Paris, they find believable the pure and passionate love-at-first-sight experienced by Juliet and Romeo. Rebellious teens seeking advice and assistance from adults other than their parents, just as Romeo and Juliet turn to Friar Laurence and the nurse, are found in everyday life as frequently as in literature. The teens in this tragedy are not singled out as the only characters making bad decisions; in fact, Romeo and Juliet might be excused from their impulsive actions, considering the overarching power assigned to destiny in the play. When their ill-fated romance ends in the tomb, Romeo and Juliet leave their parents, as well as the prince who dismissed the tragedy inherent in their rancor, to come to terms with the duality found in human existence: light and darkness, violence and desire, and love and death.

  • Romeo and Juliet on Film Lesson Plan

    Through viewing George Cukor’s, Franco Zeffirelli’s, and Baz Luhrmann’s film versions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, students will see how one director interprets the text of the play.  Students will answer questions to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the main events and characters in Romeo and Juliet as they relate to the director’s choices.    Sample student discussion question: How does Luhrmann set the tone and mood of his version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Sample answer to guide student responses: Luhrmann chooses to set the film in the present day. The Capulets and Montagues are competing corporations. The young male members of their households are gang members. Luhrmann also chooses to treat the first half of the film comically. Luhrmann will also use the motifs of old money versus nouveau riche, Hispanic versus White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and youth versus elders. Race will also come out strongly in this film. The film begins with a newsperson reading the Prologue on TV. The scene changes to clips of Verona as a violent city. The Prologue is spoken twice and printed on screen in titles and headlines of magazines and newspapers. Like the 1931 version, the actors are presented in character in freeze-frame shots. The most obvious change is in the names. Paris becomes Dave Paris, the governor’s son; Capulets become Fulgencio and Gloria; Montagues, Ted and Caroline; and Prince Escalus, Chief of Police, for example. Juliet, Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt do not have name changes. Luhrmann will also transpose sections of the text to other scenes. The opening ends with the main title card. A wipe shot takes us into the beginning of Act 1.

  • Romeo and Juliet eNotes Curriculum Plan

    Ask students to suggest words that describe the character traits of Romeo and Mercutio. By this point in the play, students should be able to see that Romeo is a romantic and a dreamer, whereas Mercutio is decidedly unromantic and a realist with little use for the fantasies of love. The etymology of his name may reveal two elements of his personality. The root is “mercury,” a substance used to measure the temperature of an environment. Another interpretation is related to the god Mercury (or Hermes) who was famous for his quick movements and even quicker temper. While Mercutio’s “mercury” may move up and down with his moods and provocations, it is even truer that Mercutio is the hard-edged realist in the play. In Act 1, he refuses to buy into Romeo’s swooning over the loss of Rosaline, telling him the way to get over her is to “examine other beauties.”