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Literary Techniques Lesson

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago

How does Shakespeare use language tricks in Romeo and Juliet?

(Lesson adapted from Shakespeare Set Free, The Folger Library)

Text: Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3, Friar Lawrence's speech



  • Speech copied on a page, writ large.
  • Baz Lurhman's Romeo+Juliet, cued to scene with Friar Lawrence in his lab.


Development of Learning Activity:

  1. Distribute copies of speech
  2. Watch clip of movie. In this version, the speech begins with "O, Mighty is the powerful grace that lies..."
  3. Discuss the literary techniques used in first four lines. I also made this a note-taking lesson by instructing students to write at the top of the page "Language Tricks in Act 2, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet", and to write down everything that I put on the board.
    • Write the first line on the board ("The grey-eyed morn...") and ask students what the verbs are in the line. Who or what is performing these verbs? What technique is being used here? Most of my students were able to correctly identify the technique as personification at this point. Some might need more prompting, in which case I asked, what do we call it when we give non-humans human characteristics?
    • Write the second line on the board ("Checkr'ing the eastern clouds...") and ask the students what they visualize when they read this line. Why might have Shakespeare used the word "checkr'ing"? What kinds of things have a black/white or dark/light pattern? What word do we see in "checkr'ing"? When I asked this last question, several students said a checkerboard. What's being compared here? What technique is being used? Metaphor. How do we know it's a metaphor? Because it didn't use like or as.
    • Write the third line on the board ("And flecked darkness..."). Several students, right away, called out simile before I even asked what the technique was. How do we know it's a simile? Because it uses like or as.
    • Write the fourth line on the board ("From forth the day's path..."). What is Titan? Initial responses included Remember the Titans (a movie), then one student said it was a warrior of some sort. I picked up that thought and asked "a warrior from what time period?" From Roman times! I added, "warriors, gods..what kind of stories are these associated with?" Mythology. Explain to students that a reference to something commonly known is called a "classical allusion."
    • Skip to line seven, to the word "upfill." Ask students what is wierd about this word. Most will say, "we usually say fill up." A few said "it's reversed," which is a great answer since the technique being used here is a reversed thought.
    • Shakespeare Set Free includes a hand-out that has the above techniques on it, along with an example from the play. The bottom half of the hand-out asks students to come up with original examples for each of the techniques discussed. Students do this in groups. During the follow-up lesson, students will make small posters of their examples to hang around the room.



  • Students will demonstrate understanding by correctly identifying techniques. (Short term)
  • Students will succesfully create their own examples of language tricks. (Short term)



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