Shakespeare in Love: What Does the Director Want Us to Think About the Bard?

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SWBAT determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author (in this case director) uses rhetoric to advance that point of view by watching a section of the film, Shakespeare in Love.

Big Idea

Shakespeare is in love, but are we in love with Shakespeare?

Getting Started

5 minutes

5 minute cram time. During this time, I will also ask students to rearrange their desks, so they are not as close to each other. I always tell them it's better to avoid temptations beforehand and thus avoid a difficult decision in a moment of desperation; good advice for life too, I think.

Quiz: Show Your Shakespeare Knowledge

25 minutes

Quiz time. You'll notice that this quiz assesses knowledge, without being unreasonably nit-picky (at least in my opinion). I chose to give a recall quiz today, as opposed to an analysis quiz because I want students to understand the big picture; therefore, I don't ask questions about Shakespeare's son's name or the number of history plays he wrote. If they know the answer to either of those questions, then they will be rewarded, but it's not essential that they know these details.


I'm really proud of how they did. Take a look.

Movie Clip: Shakespeare in Love

25 minutes

I'm still on my "Will Power" campaign; therefore I have decided to show a section of Shakespeare in Love today to illustrate his humanity (for better and worse). Please note, that this movie is rated R, so much of it is inappropriate for in-school viewing, but the beginning, before he meets and falls in love with Gwyneth Paltrow, is pretty safe.


I will have the movie prepped and ready to go when everyone is finished with the quiz. I plan to start about 4 minutes into the film, to the scene where young Shakespeare is struggling to write about Romeo and Ethel. The students know from yesterday's presentation that we don't know very much about Shakespeare, beyond what government and church records can show us. But this section of the movie provides a believable characterization of him: he is passionate about writing and women, a bit manipulative and totally self-serving. They also get a clear sense of what London was like at the time: it is filthy and crowded. These details reinforce information we discussed during the Shakespeare PowerPoint.


Moreover, the basis of this film derives from documented rivalries between theaters in London (RL.9-10.6). The clip we will watch today introduces this competition, but doesn't fully explore the idea. Nonetheless, it is information we will return to as we read more of the text.

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

We should have a few minutes at the end of the class to discuss the film (SL.9-10.1). These questions will guide us:

  • How is Shakespeare characterized in this film?
  • What details in the film help you characterize him?
  • What is the director's point of view of Shakespeare? (RI.9-10.6)
  • Is that what you thought about the author before watching? How does this representation of Shakespeare compare to our understanding of him based on the PowerPoint? (RL.9-10.6)
  • What is London like? Would you like to live in this city at this time? (we'll see how many students noticed the waste being tossed out the door)


I hope that the movie will excite students about the play, or least not dread it.


For homework, students will study for their vocab quiz.