Literary Devices in Act I of Othello

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT determine the meaning of literary devices and their impact on the text by analyzing the literary elements of Act I of Othello.

Big Idea

What's the function of literary devices in Shakespeare? Students explore how literary devices influence the text and the audience.

Let's Get Started: Defining Literary Devices

15 minutes

Class begins with students logging on to the lap tops to do a literary devices research discovery.  I have them work in pairs because I have more students than computers and also because I think it's important for students to work together to identify these terms. The goal is to define literary devices in act I of Othello.  Before my students can identify and discuss the literary elements impact on the text, we need to have common definitions of the terms.  

Students look up the following terms (L.9-10.4c and L.9-10.5):  

After they have written definitions in their notes, I go around the room and ask students to share their definitions.  I ask my student aids to write the definitions on the whiteboard.  


Building Knowledge: Literary Elements! How do They Function in Othello

40 minutes

Now it is time to introduce to my students how to discuss and write about literary elements in the text.  It is not enough to say, X is a symbol. Students needs to be able to explain the purpose of the devices in the context it appears and it overall impact on the text as a whole (RL 9-10. 4). 

Next, they write down notes on the Three Cs: Context, Concept, and Connection.  The Three Cs create a strong paragraph that incorporates text dependent evidence to discuss the function of a literary device. The style can be used to create strong evidence-based body paragraphs in a literary analysis or any content area paper that needs evidence to support a claim. Once student master the pattern they can apply it in other writing assignments. 

I wish I could take credit for this method of analysis, however, I was introduced to writing analysis paragraphs at an AP literature conference.  I have tweaked the process to fit my instructional style and the academic level of my students.  It is a process that easily adapts to any type of writing that requires in-text citations to support a claim. I shared this with a few of my colleagues in other disciplines and it has worked for them also.

The Three Cs are: 

  • 1. Context : The context sets up the text portion you are about to discuss. In other words, you need to BRIEFLY introduce the general circumstances in your example.
  • 2. Concept : What is the device that you are addressing? Use it in the present tense and use the active voice (i.e. “This simile compares the...) when referring to the literary device. Make certain you discuss it directly.
  • 3. Connection: Discuss in clear and specific terms exactly how the literary device contributes to the passage/poem/novel as a whole. In other words, how does the literary device reinforce what is occurring in the larger context. 

I show the students a chart of examples of literary devices.  I include the examples in the text.  At this point it is more important for my students to learn how to talk and write about the relevance of the devices than spend half the period trying to locate them in the text.  As they become more comfortable with the discourse associated with literary elements, they will be responsible for locating them in the text.  

In the third box on the chart, they have to state:  where in the text did the device occur, what is its purpose, and how does it connect to the whole play.  After they finish this chart, I go onto additional examples of literary devices in act I.  The students repeat the same process on the second chart.  For the purposes of completing the charts, students can discuss the devices and and their function in the play.

Once the carts are completed.  I show the students what a function paragraph looks like.  Students will take the information in their chart and write their own function paragraph. 

Applying Knowledge: Write a Function Paragraph

30 minutes

Closing: Homework

5 minutes

I want to give my students feedback quickly. If they are struggling with writing a literary device, I want to provide them with support as soon as possible. I ask students to turn in their function paragraphs to the tray. Then I remind them to read act II, scene i and ii  and complete their dialectical notebook for the next class.