Getting Real: Lessons in Romeo and Juliet’s Life
I received this letter from a former student:
You may not remember me. I was in your English class years ago. Because of conflicts at home and troubles at school, I decided to drop out. I had no intentions of attending your class that day, but the truant officer was guarding the exit to the school and I couldn’t leave. Thank goodness! Your Romeo and Juliet character analysis lesson, the one about assessing the blame of Romeo and Juliet characters, saved my life. Up to that point, I saw everything as black and white. After your lesson, I realized there were gray areas and that things could be worked out. Because of you I went on to become a clinical psychologist. Who would have thought a character analysis of Romeo and Juliet could have had such a profound effect?
I don’t remember Phil, but I do remember that Romeo and Juliet Characters lesson plan:
This lesson makes an excellent review of Romeo and Juliet.
Whatever you do, don’t tell students they’re doing a character analysis of Romeo and Juliet. Tell them they get to blame Romeo and Juliet characters. Teenagers love to blame.
- Instruct students to copy the following Romeo and Juliet characters’ names, leaving at least three lines in between: Romeo, Juliet, Benvolio, Tybalt, Mercutio, Lady Capulet, Lord Capulet, Friar Lawrence, Nurse, Montague, Prince Escalus, Paris, Fate, Friar John, Rosaline.
- For each character, find at least two pieces of evidence to explain their guilt in Romeo and Juliet’s death.
- Instruct students to rank the characters’ blame for Romeo and Juliet’s death by assigning each character a number, with the number 1 being the most responsible.
- Assign students into groups of four.
- As a group, instruct students to compile a list of their top 5 most responsible for the young lovers’ deaths, and their reasons for the assignation. Groups must come to a consensus. Students must be prepared to defend their answers.
- Make a chart on the board to record each groups’ answers. Include your answers on the chart. I’ve included an example on page 2.
- Discuss the results. Pay special attention to anomalies and force groups to explain their choices.
My Character Analysis of Romeo and Juliet, Part 1
1. Friar Lawrence: Friar Lawrence’s plans were irresponsible and reckless. Ecclesiastical leaders, in addition, should be held to a higher standard.
2. Romeo: As a husband, Romeo really needed to step up and control his emotions. How’d you like this guy governing your family, or teaching your children, or handling your investments?
3. Lord Capulet: Capulet needs to stop slapping his daughter around and start listening to her.
4. Nurse: Come on, Nurse. When Juliet needed you most, you deserted her. I hope you enjoy the rest of your miserable life, you traitorous wench.
5. Friar John: Come on John, your boss sent you on an important assignment and you dilly-dallied at some sick guy’s house. Champions find a way to get it done. You’re no champion.
6. Tybalt: I have an idea, Tybalt. Shut your mouth! Romeo was sincere. He really did like you, but you thought he was a sissy. As it turns out, you’re the bigger sissy because he carved you up.
7. Mercutio: Hey dummy, it wasn’t Romeo’s fault you got killed by Tybalt. It was your fault. You’re the idiot who ran his mouth one too many times. You got exactly what was coming to you, so rot in hell!
My Character Analysis of Romeo and Juliet, Part 2
8. Montague: Do you even remember why you hate the Capulets?
9. Paris: Dude, she doesn’t like you! If you wouldn’t have forced her to marry you, she would not have taken such drastic measures to escape. Hint: if a woman fakes her own suicide to avoid marrying you, she probably doesn’t want to marry you.
10. Escalus: Did you bother to think of the ramifications of your ridiculous law? Instead of pronouncing threats, perhaps you should spend some time coming up with a solution. Have you ever heard of diplomacy?
11. Lady Capulet: How about a little sympathy for your daughter, you floozy?
12. Juliet: Granted, she stabs herself, but let’s look at this from her perspective: she’s 13-years-old. Her husband’s been banished; she’s been forced to marry someone else; her best friend deserts her; her mother has turned against her; her father beats her; she wakes up in a tomb next to her dead husband; and in a panic, Friar Lawrence, the last of his many stupid choices, deserts her. Add the whole women have no rights in 13th century Verona angle, and Juliet has no reason to live.
13. Rosaline: It’s not Rosaline’s fault she’s hot. She was sensible. Romeo was a loser and she knew it.
14. Fate: Poor choices, not fate, lead to their deaths.
This post is part of the series: Romeo and Juliet Lesson Plans
- Teaching Characterization: Fun Shakespeare Lesson Plans
- Lesson Plan: Romeo and Juliet Characters, Who's to Blame?