Today we started by examining the word “night.” To warm-up our brains, I had my students create a brainstorm web of definitions, synonyms, ideas, and images that they associate with the word “night.” We then made a collective web on the board, with students volunteering their ideas. I explained that Shakespeare would take a word like “night” and use it throughout a play. Each time the audience hears the word “night,” certain pictures or images pop up in their heads. The repetition of the word creates what is called “imagery.”
I had my students arrange themselves in their groups of three, and passed out copies of Juliet’s opening speech in 3.2 (3.2 – Repetition of Night). First, I had students read the speech to themselves. I then had them go back through and circle every time the word “night” was used. They then went back and underlined and adjectives that described that night. Students volunteered their responses as I recorded them on the SMART Board:
- “cloudy night”
- “love-performing night”
- “civil night”
- “Thou sober-suited matron, all in black”
- “black mantle”
- Romeo = “thou day in night”
- “loving black-browed night”
- “So tedious is this day / As is the night before some festival”
I then asked kids to turn back to their groups and discuss what Juliet associates the word night with. What exactly is she talking about? After sharing out, we got ready to act out 3.2 and 3.3. I felt that the acting of 3.2 went much more smoothly, because we really examined where Juliet was coming from when at the beginning of the scene.
The surprise of my day came when I had a turn to act during my last class! Time was growing short, Friar Lawrence has some lengthy lines in 3.3, and I thought if I’m making my kids act then I should probably get up there too at some point. Besides being fun for me, I think it helped to give kids a good model on how to speak lines of Shakespearean text, interpret as you read, and figure out actions that correspond with the lines. I think it also set the bar for what I expect with acting. It’s not just reading. It’s really trying to become the character.
With what time we had left, we took a look at Friar Lawrence’s lengthy speech (3.3 – Friar Lawrence’s Speech). I first had kids look through the speech and mark any time the Friar mentions suicide. Then they read back through and noted any time he called Romeo a “woman.” I asked them to put these two together: What is he trying to communicate to Romeo? For homework, they’ll be continuing our examination of the different relationships within this play, by writing a paragraph that describes the relationship between Romeo and the Friar at this point in the story, using evidence from the text to prove their point.