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Introduction

So you’re going to teach William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has challenges, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into Shakespearean tragedies, the sonnet form, and important themes surrounding love, loyalty, and blood feud. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance 

  • Publication Date: 1597 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level: 11 
  • Approximate Word Count: 26,500 
  • Author: William Shakespeare 
  • Country of Origin: England 
  • Genre: Drama, Shakespearean Tragedy 
  • Literary Period: Early Modern Renaissance 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Society 
  • Setting: Verona, Italy, 14th Century 
  • Structure: Five-Act Play, Iambic Pentameter, Sonnets, Blank Verse, Heroic Couplets 
  • Mood: Romantic, Tragic


Texts That Go Well With Romeo and Juliet

A Million Junes is a novel by Emily Henry that retells the Romeo and Juliet tale. Two ancient families in Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts, feud over a disagreement that happened centuries ago. Main character June’s hatred for the Angerts only abates when she falls for Saul Angert and must then uncover the truth behind the feud. This novel shares themes about love, loyalty, and conflict. It focuses on the experience of hatred and empathy and explores the reasons behind the blood feud. 

Astrophil and Stella is a sonnet sequence by Sir Philip Sidney. Throughout this sequence the speaker explores questions of love, desire, and poetic creation using a Petrarchan rhyme scheme. The sequence can be used to explore themes about Early Modern love tropes and the sonnet sequence. 

Shakespeare’s Sonnets is a sonnet sequence by William Shakespeare. This sonnet sequence explores unrequited love and aging. It is less traditional but can give students insight into Shakespeare’s relationship with the poetic form that shapes Romeo and Juliet

Persuasion is a novel by Jane Austen. The story begins several years after a broken...

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