Analyzing the Tension and Drama in The Balcony Scene

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SWBAT analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text create tension or surprise by tracking Shakespeare's strategies throughout our reading of Act 2, scene 2 in preparation for an open response.

Big Idea

Romeo, Romeo, WHY are you Romeo? It really makes life so tense and dramatic!

Getting Started

15 minutes

At the beginning of class, we will review our work from the last class. We will take out this worksheet, which we started last class, and which we will use as we read the rest of Act 2, scene 2. We will also review Romeo's soliloquy, wherein he reveals all his thoughts about Juliet, as he secretly watches her on her balcony. This review will help us get started today, since we are reading the next section of the balcony scene (Juliet's speech) and preparing for a short essay. Reviewing our work reminds us of our purpose.


10 minutes

Last class, we briefly journaled about what we think about when we see the person that we really like. Before we return the text, we will return to that journal entry from last class. I will ask:


What if that person heard you or saw what you wrote? How would you react? (W.9-10.10)


I ask this question before we return to the reading because it should prepare for Juliet's soliloquy. She reveals her inner-most thoughts concerning Romeo because she thinks that she is alone. She does not realize that Romeo is listening the entire time. After we read this section, of the text, I will ask if their response matches Juliet's reaction to hearing Romeo answer her hypothetical questions (SL.9-10.1). I hope that their personal reflection will help the students be more sympathetic to Juliet's embarrassment.

Juliet's Soliloquy and Surprise

25 minutes

We started Act 2, scene 2 last class, but only read through Romeo's opening soliloquy. We will continue reading through the scene this class, specifically focusing on how Shakespeare creates tension in the scene (RL.9-10.5). Here is a sample. One student will read for Romeo and another for Juliet. As we read, we will pause and focus on:

Public v. Private

  • Juliet says what she does because she thinks she is alone. Would this scene have even happened if she knew Romeo was listening?



  • How important are names? We have discussed how the characteristics of Benvolio and Tybalt match their names, yet Juliet proclaims that a name doesn't mean anything.


Light v. Dark

  • Romeo proclaims that "Juliet is the sun" and her eyes are actually two stars. She is the light in the darkness.
  • Juliet describes their love "contact" as like "lightening."
  • Romeo finally leaves when it is "almost morning."


Love v. Hate

  • Romeo is risking his life by climbing the Capulet walls. Juliet even worries that the guards will see him because she knows that they will kill him. Yet this is the scene where the two swear their love for each other.
  • Romeo even declares that he would let the guard find him if Juliet says she doesn't love him because his life would no longer be worth living.


Each of these motifs helps create the tension, which students will discover as we discuss. As we read, we will talk about the juxtapositions and establish the most appropriate place on the chart. Take a look at a final result.

How does Shakespeare create tension?

15 minutes

In the remaining class time, we will prep for the essay. Throughout the reading, students have had ample opportunities to complete the worksheet, adding details and textual evidence that will help them answer the question. Students will write the open response for homework, but we will use this time to write thorough and specific thesis statements, so that they feel prepared to write independently (W.9-10.2b). Take a look at a final product.

Students will write the open response for homework. They have two nights to complete it.