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Are you kidding me? It's William Shakespeare. Of course it has literary merit. Here are some topics worthy of discussion while teaching Romeo and Juliet:
- Love vs. Lust: Romeo and Juliet are obsessed, infatuated, out of control, and irrational. Sounds like lust to me.
- Prejudice: The feuding families create tension and conflict, not unlike feuding cultures in today's society.
- The Role of Fate: Shakespeare calls the two lovers "star-crossed." Does fate, however, play a greater role than the numerous stupid choices made by Romeo and Juliet?
- Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts: Friar Lawrence knew a lot. Most of it was useless. After all, he had no real world experience. He just walked around all day collecting herbs.
- Suicide: It's the gigantic green elephant in the room. You might as well talk about it.
- The Role of Women: Verona society did not hold much for women, which makes Juliet's strength stand out even more.
- The Role of a Husband: Romeo's weakness dooms the relationship from the start.
- Friendship: Romeo's friend, Mercutio, causes his banishment. His other friend, Friar Lawrence, causes his death. Juliet's friend, the Nurse, abandons her in her time of need.
- Communication: Juliet and her father need to sit down and have a nice long talk.
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Romeo and Juliet Literary Analysis
Teaching Romeo and Juliet involves teaching the following literary devices:
- Figurative Language: Shakespeare is the master of puns, metaphor, simile, personification, synechdoche, meiosis, and hyperbole.
- Elements of Tragedy: Teaching Romeo and Juliet involves teaching tragedy.
- Verbal Irony: I'm a big fan of puns. So is William Shakespeare. He's better at them than I.
- Situational Irony: Every negative coincidence imaginable happens.
- Dramatic Irony: Every time I read the play, I scream to Romeo that Juliet is faking her death. Romeo never listens (The teacher next door, who always seems to be doing timed-writing as I scream, does).
- Foreshadowing: Shakespeare mentions the lovers' death in the Prologue.
- Conflict: External and internal conflicts move the story forward.
- Suspense: Shakespeare uses foreshadowing, dangerous action, and pacing to create suspense.
- Language: Shakespeare's word mastery allows for the teaching of difficult words using root analysis.
- Characterization: You could spend hours discussing Mercutio, and he dies in Act III.
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Interesting and Fun Ways of Teaching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
These interesting and fun ways of teaching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet will make the play enjoyable.
- Read parts aloud: Only do this with advanced classes unless you want Shakespeare himself to awake from the dead and weep.
- Read creatively: (1) Read one word at a time; (2) Read until the next punctuation mark; (3) Read one line at a time; (4) Read with heavy English accents if you're American; (5) Read with heavy American accents if you're English.
- Do these fun reading activities with white boards.
- Listen to the play on CD as you read along.
- Act out a scene.
- Write Shakespearean insults.
Drama in the Classroom
- Tips for Teaching Romeo and Juliet
- A Teacher Review of Antigone with Teaching Activities & Discussion Ideas
- Tips for Teachers to Teach Julius Caesar
- Teaching the Crucible in High Schools
- Teaching Ideas for "The Ring of General Macias": A Great Addition to Your Curriculum
- Trifles by Susan Glaspell: Drama in the Classroom Reviews
- Drama in the Classroom with Ibsen's 'A Doll's House'