A Plan Set in Motion: Characterization in Othello Act I, sc iii

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SWBAT lead discussions on characterization by posing and responding to questions about the characters in ACT 1, sc iii of Othello.

Big Idea

Student investigate the complexities of what characters say and do and what others say about them.

Let's Get Started: Reviewing Characterization

10 minutes

Once everyone is settled, I ask the class to define characterization since it will be the focus of our lesson today.  I am looking for the students to say, " The process in which an author reveals the personality of a character." 

Now, I ask them what clues do they need to look for in order to make inferences about a character. I am looking for them to provide the following: 

1. What the narrator reveals about the character (Note: Since we are reading a play, I remind them that the author will give clues about a character in the stage directions and commentary.)

2. What the character says and does. Here I ask that students play close attention to soliloquies. 

3. What other characters say about him/her

I tell them that after we discuss the scene we are going to take a close look at the main characters in Othello (RL 9-10.3) and apply these three techniques for how to make inferences about him or her. It is important to begin with this review of prior knowledge as we will move past these basic inferencing skills in this lesson and unit in order to fully analyze the characters. .

Building Knowledge: Scene iii Discussion Questions

15 minutes

Students are assigned to two work groups for this unit.  Once group is their play group and the other is their character group.  The play group is made up of one person from each of the character groups. The character group is made up of students who are all focusing on the same character.  I have students work in these two groups to accentuate the focus on both theme and plot (through dialectical journal work) and characterization -- each group will serve to concentrate specifically on one of these standards of focus. 

The class starts in their play group. First each person in the group shares their objective summary from their dialectical journal.  The goals is for the group to reach a consensus on the events in the scene (RL 9-10.2).  

Next, they will take turn asking the questions they wrote in their journals.  Each student asks their questions and the other members of their group have to answer the questions using evidence from the text (RL 9-10.1). This is their second opportunity for students to lead the discussion on a scene in Othello (SL 9-10 1c). The goal is for the students to determine the course of the discussion of the text.  I just want to provide support and guidance when necessary to keep them on track. 

Building Knowledge: Examining Characterization

20 minutes

After completing the discussion of the scene, the students will move into their character groups.  Each person in the group is focusing on that character so they can work together to teach the class about their character and how they fit into the world of Othello. 

The characters are: 








By the end of act I, Shakespeare has provided the basics of each of the main characters except Emilia and Bianca.  I have have the group that is assigned to Amelia work on defining other minor characters in act I: the Duke, Brabantio, Roderigo etc. Rodrigo can also be considered an important character, but he is flat and students run out of things to say about him.  

In their groups, students have to begin their character analysis of their assigned character.  They have to answer the questions: Who is __________? What makes him/her interesting? How does s/he relate to Othello? What predictions can you make about the character based on act I? (RL 9-10.3).  Next they present their findings to the class (SL 9-10.4). The rest of the class can take notes on the characters in their journals. 

Wrap up: Lingering Questions and Homework

10 minutes

As the presentations wrap up,  I remind them that we will work on literary elements in the next class. Their next journal entry on Act II, sc i, ii are due next week.  I answer any lingering questions they have on characters or the homework.  I ask them to put their giant stickies with their character descriptions on the wall so we can refer to them throughout the unit and I can do a quick formative assessment of their learning today.