At the beginning of class, students will write a journal response of this question: Is revenge ever okay? (W.9-10.2)
This journal prompt will help them respond to the scene we are reading today. First, Mercutio fights Tybalt because Tybalt has made fun of him and Romeo (and Romeo won't fight him). Then Romeo fights Tybalt because Tybalt killed Mercutio. Had either responded to the situation any other way, two lives could have been spared (well, technically four if you total the death count in the play).
Act 3 scene 1 is intense and intensely important. In order to convey all aspects of the scene and its complexities, we read and play act. I ask for 4 readers: Benvolio, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Romeo. I ask for 3 different volunteers to act the parts (Benvolio doesn't get an actor assignment). Each reader will read their part and then the class will determine what the actors should do. "Acting" may be too generous a description. It ends up looking more like posing. Together we try to arrange each characters in poses that illustrate their emotion and positioning. For instance, when Tybalt arrives and tells Romeo to "turn and draw," we will make Tybalt seem aggressive, probably by pointing his sword ($1 at Target!) at Romeo. But Romeo does not return the hatred; instead he says, "I do protest I never injured thee/ but love thee better than thou canst devise." We will need to pose Romeo so it's clear that he does not plan to fight back (RL.9-10.3). Take a look at our fight scene.
This format is time consuming, but it helps us understand the scene fully and it involves everyone. The students who aren't reading or acting get to decide how the actors should stand and what they should do. They can also ask the readers to repeat a line with a different intonation and emotion (SL.9-10.1b). Understanding this scene is crucial: the fight did not need to happen, but emotions are high and everything comes to a boil. Everyone and everything is at odds: love and violence, humor and hatred, appearance and reality, fate and free will (RL.9-10.2). All of this becomes clear when the reading is slow and the students can see tension through the acting.
In the last few minutes of class, we will discuss what we read, what they think of the fight, and their final thoughts on revenge (RL.9-10.1). I will also remind them on their homework, which is to find the images, music, and clips that they want to use in their book trailers. The next two classes will be spent in the library working on these projects.