Reflecting on Romeo's Response in Act 3, Scene 3

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SWABT analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme by reflecting on Romeo's reaction to being banished.

Big Idea

Romeo: emotional trainwreck or merely lovesick?

Getting Started

15 minutes

To begin class today, I will explain a scenario for students to consider. I will ask:


I am going to tell you a story about a student from a few years ago and I want you to tell me if she made the right decision. She broke up with her boyfriend. She envisioned marriage and traveling and a good life together, but he broke up with her. She was devastated. She decided that she couldn't bear to see him everyday at school, so she quit. She quit school. She took the GED and started taking classes at a local community college, with plans to transfer to a 4 year school in another year.

Do you think she made the right choice?


Students will write for a few minutes first, in order to organize their thoughts (W.9-10.10). Then we will discuss (SL.9-10.1). I ask this question as a way to approach the next scene of the play. In Act 3, scene 3, Romeo hears that the Prince has banished him from Verona. Instead of being grateful that he hasn't immediately been sentenced to death, Romeo is distraught. Some students will think that he is being overly dramatic-- just like some will think that my former student was being dramatic. But the modern example of a definite response will encourage students to consider Romeo's position; he feels hopeless.

Reading 3.3

30 minutes

We will read Act 3, scene 3 with a focus on character (RL.9-10.3). In this scene, Romeo reminds us of the our first impression of him: an emotional kid. When he hears that he has been banished, he declared that banishment is worse than death, as he throws himself on the floor, as a child would in the middle of a tantrum. He even asks Friar to kill him, proving Romeo impetuous and arguably immature. He doesn't perk up until the Nurse arrives with the ring from Juliet.


Friar Lawrence is as level-headed in this scene as Romeo is dramatic. He scolds Romeo for belittling his own life and he comes up with a plan to rectify the situation. In effect, Friar Lawrence may have saved Romeo in this scene because Romeo was ready to give up on everything.


While we read, we will characterize each man, using adjectives to describe them based on their wording (RL.9-10.4). I will do my very best not to lead students will my opinions. I want them to read into the language and come to conclusions. Therefore, I will give wait time between meaningful sections, but I will try not to direct them. Let me explain.

Journal Writing

10 minutes

After we have read the scene, we will spend a few minutes reflecting on what we have read (W.9-10.10). We will write independently, responding to this question: Was Romeo's reaction justified? Explain.


I expect that most students will say that Romeo totally overreacted, but some might feel for him and think that he had a reason to be so upset. Either opinion is acceptable, the key will be their argument, which is why I ask them to write their answer first. The think time is crucial. They will need to effectively explain, using the text (W.9-10.2b), why Romeo is or is not justified in his response.

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

I'm interested to know what students think about Romeo at this point in the play and his reaction to being banished. We will spend the last few minutes talking about the scene and our opinions.