Analyzing the Role of Fate in Act 5 Scenes 1 and 2

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SWBAT determine a theme of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of a text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details by tracking the role of fate in Romeo and Juliet.

Big Idea

I'm not to blame.. fate did it.

Getting Started

20 minutes

At the beginning of class, I will hand back open responses that my students wrote three days ago. Before handing them out, I plan to read from a few great responses. I will ask students to listen and to be able to compliment the author on parts that stand out to them. For instance, they can focus on opening statements, clear thesis statements, and thoughtful commentary. At the end of the conversation, I will ask students to write two goals for their own writing on the top of the page. Although I cropped out the top of the page (I wanted to remove the student's name), this student set two goals for her writing: she wants to integrate quotes "smoothly" and improve her verbs.


I could just hand the open responses back without any discussion, but because this open response wasn't just about writing the right answer, but about writing with style, I want to compliment students whose writing has improved. This time is also an opportunity where students who are still questioning what "style" actually sounds like to get a taste of it.

Reading and Discussing 5.1

25 minutes

During class today, we will read Act 5, scene 1 and 2, pausing to discuss certain sections. We will focus on a few key elements of these scenes:


The Power of Dreams

  • Romeo dreams that Juliet finds him dead and revives him with a kiss. This dream is important because Romeo also had a dream in Act 1 that he ignored. We can make predictions about the significance of this dream.


Missed Messages

  • Balthasar comes to Mantua from Verona to tell Romeo that he saw Juliet buried. Romeo just keeps asking if Balthasar has a message from the Friar, which he doesn't. This false account causes Romeo to act impetuously.


The Power of Money

  • Romeo is able to buy poison because he has money and the apothecary doesn't: Romeo pays his poverty and not his will but Romeo knows that money does not solve anything. It might be the poor man food, but it doesn't not bring happiness. Romeo's family is rich, yet they are full of hatred.


Take a look at some of our discussion. Focusing on each of these elements will help lead us to the big question: is fate to blame? (RL.9-10.2) This is certainly a question that Shakespeare begs us to ask and one which we will begin discussing after the next scene, since the order of the scenes is one way that he poses the question (RL.9-10.5).

Reading and Discussing 5.2

10 minutes

This is a really short scene, but it explains why Romeo has not received the message from Friar Lawrence: his messenger, Friar John, gets caught in a quarantine and cannot proceed to Mantua. It will only take a couple of minutes to read the scene. We will then discuss the role of fate in the play (SL.9-10.1). Is the quarantine just a weird and unfortunate coincidence or is it an instrument of fate purposely working against the couple? (RL.9-10.2) If time allows, this would be a great question to write a journal response to (W.9-10.10).


The final essay for Romeo and Juliet will ask "who's to blame?" Is fate to blame for the couple's tragic demise?