Analyzing How Language Reveals Emotion and Character in Act 3, Scene 5

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SWBAT analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text and interact with each other by studying Romeo and Juliet's language during their last interaction.

Big Idea

Are you willing to lie to yourself if it means being happier, even for a little while?

Note to the Teacher

Due to testing, this class period is only 30 minutes. Since we have less time, it seems appropriate to discuss the fragility of time during the half hour we have together!

Getting Started

10 minutes

We will start class today by reviewing their homework from last night. Students were asked to think about what Capulet's decision in 3.4 reveals about Juliet and to explain their thoughts in at least a paragraph (W.9-10.10). I will scan the room first to make sure that everyone has their homework and can therefore effectively participate in the discussion. Then I will ask for their conclusions: what do they understand about the characters and their development? (RL.9-10.3) This reflection on Juliet's growth will provide a basis for our reading today, since Juliet is waking up from her first night with her husband.


Here are a few examples: example 1example 2, and example 3.

Lark or Nightingale? Analysis of the Fragility of Time

15 minutes

We are going to start Act 3, scene 5 in class today, but we won't have much time, so we will focus on the opening, when Juliet and Romeo playfully argue about whether they hear the lark or the nightingale. Take a look at how I will approach this section of the scene (RL.9-10.4). 


This is the last time that Romeo and Juliet see each other alive. I like to spend a few moments on this section-- the part right before Lady Capulet brings Juliet the news of her upcoming nuptials-- to reinforce the fragility of time. The couple doesn't know their future in the same way that the audience does, but they know that they will not see each other for awhile. They are desperate to stay in this moment and would pause time, if they could (RL.9-10.3). It's a good place to stop and think about modern day equivalents together (SL.9-10.1); sure, a new couple might act in the same way, but so might a family right before a soldier goes to war, or a recent graduate basking in the glow of their achievement-- before the world creeps in and demands adult responsibility. This scene shouldn't feel foreign or outdated to students because it represents a perennial aspect of humankind, as does so much of this play. 

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I will assign homework. Students will translate the next section of this scene, from where Lady Capulet enters, until the part where Lord Capulet enters. I am confident that that this point students feel comfortable enough with the text that they can truly translate the language independently. Earlier in the text, I never assigned this kind of homework because I know that students would just copy from the internet. I don't think that students feel that they need the internet at this point and can do the work on their own.


Tomorrow, we will pick up the reading from where their homework ends.