In the scene we are reading today, Romeo jokes around with his friends. It's the first time we witness him having fun with them. We, the audience, know why Romeo is in a good mood, but his friends don't know. Before we start reading, we will discuss this element of dramatic irony and what we can expect from Mercutio's conversation with Romeo (RL.11-12.6).
It's important to remind students that Mercutio and Benvolio think they were ditched the night before because Romeo is depressed about Rosaline, not because he loves again. Otherwise, it can very confusing for students, who may forget that they know more than the characters on stage.
Before we begin reading, I will forewarn students that the next page and half is comprised almost entirely of puns; Romeo and Mercutio verbally spar each other, all in fun. It is not necessary to laugh at (or even completely understand) every joke; Shakespeare probably wouldn't laugh at our slag, either. Instead, I will ask students to try to get a sense of the better linguist/ pun-ner from the conversation. We will stop at line 90 to discuss our thoughts.
It may seem strange that I'm telling students they don't need to understand what we read today... but they don't. This interaction between Romeo and Mercutio is more about witnessing their friendship than it is about deciphering jokes (RL.9-10.3). To ask students to translate the lines would be frustrating and fruitless. To ask them to focus on character development and interaction is doable and rewarding. There will be plenty of opportunities for thorough translation throughout our reading.
At line 90, we will pause in the reading to think and write about the question: who's the better jokester? Which character one-ups the other and is better at word play? (W.9-10.2)
Again, students don't need to understand every joke to answer this question (but the footnotes in this text certainly help); they can figure it out by focusing on particular words, such as "solely" which is reused to mean different things, and small sections of text. For instance, Mercutio says, "Come between us, Benvolio. My wits faints." This line is easy to understand and can be cited when answering the question (W.9-10.2b).
Students will write and hand in their answer because I want everyone to try. This is the type of question where some students just sit back and wait for someone else to give the answer. Not an option. The art of deciphering is a necessary skill-- the key, really, to standardized testing. They can't give up when they think the assignment is too hard, but instead they need to work through what they can do and use their brain to make connections.
Take a look at what they said.
During the second half of class, we will finish Act 2 scene 4, wherein Juliet's Nurse comes to get news from Romeo. It is the only time the two notoriously bawdy characters-- Mercutio and the Nurse-- appear together, which lends for a few laughs. As we read, we will focus on:
For homework, students will complete worksheet: Book Review Sheet. It's a simple, but clear, way for me to see how they are doing with their outside read book.