Students hone their literary analysis and writing skills as they read Shakespeare's iconic Romeo and Juliet in the original Early Modern English.
This end-of-year unit draws upon the literary analysis and writing skills that students have been honing over the course of the year and asks them to apply these skills to the complex language and style of Shakespeare. While students have previously read No Fear Shakespeare versions of other works by Shakespeare, this will be their first experience with reading in Shakespeare’s original, more archaic language. Additionally, the unit contains an emphasis on building the skills described in Common Core ELA standard RL.9.-10.9, "analyzing how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work." While reading Romeo and Juliet, students will analyze works by the fourteenth-century poet Petrarch, investigating how Shakespeare drew on some of Petrarch’s themes and characters and used them to develop his own play. They will also watch pieces of the 1996 film version of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann, and read excerpts of the novel Street Love, by Walter Dean Myers, analyzing how these two modern artists transform Shakespeare’s sixteenth-century play to inform their work. As part of their analysis, students will read, discuss, and write about the play itself and compare it to these other works.
When planning out the final days of the year, teachers should be sure to leave one or two class days for review for the final exam. That review is not included in the count of days for this unit.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition Projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition Projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 9, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 9 class.
In English 9 Unit 6, students will read Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare. The major areas of focus in the English unit are: (1) decoding and comprehending Shakespeare’s archaic language and (2) comparing his original text to other works that have drawn on his original text. These supplemental Composition Projects will focus primarily on the latter, asking students to compare in writing how the newer works have drawn on and transformed Shakespeare’s original work. These writing focus areas mostly spiral from the earlier units, providing students with opportunities to apply their writing skills to new projects. The newer skill that students are asked to develop is to consider the structure of their essays and ensure that the structure lends itself well to the task and purpose.
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.
Play: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library 2011 edition)
This assessment accompanies Unit 6 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Students will write an essay comparing two different works of literature, explaining how one draws upon and/or transforms the other. By this point in the year, students will have had experience crafting compare-and-contrast essays. However, this is the first time they will be explaining how one author draws upon another. For this reason, the following focus correction areas are recommended.
Literary Analysis Writing Focus Areas:
Students will write a mix of literary analysis and narrative pieces in this unit, applying the writing skills they have practiced throughout the year. In these projects, many of the WFAs are review and should come more easily to students at this point. The “coherence” focus area may be newer and require more instruction and feedback.
diction, structure, stage directions, theme, character motivation, motif, conflict, style, iambic pentameter, pun, Petrarchan lover, tone, mood
Prologue: foes (7)
Act 1: valiant (9), partisan (13), pernicious (15), transgression (23), chastity (23), devout (33), heretic (33), obscured (39), tainted (47)
Act 2: bewitched (65), discourse (69), entreat (71), impute (77), vile (85), rancor (89), affecting/affect (n.) (93)
Act 3: apt (117), effeminate (123), calamity (139), banishment (141), perjury (149), vex (163), wretched (169)
Act 4: haste (177), slander (179), treacherous (181), prostrate (187), stifle (193), solemnity (203)
Act 5: unaccustomed (211), penury (213), distilled (221), beseech (223), ambiguities (237), enmity (243)
bite my thumb (11), knaves (53), fool’s paradise (101), dirge (203)
Students will learn to read Shakespeare in its original form.
Romeo and Juliet — Prologue (p. 7); Act 1, Scene 1 (pp. 9–15)
Romeo and Juliet — Prologue
Street Love — Prologue
Explain the function of the prologue in Romeo and Juliet.
Analyze the conflict in act 1, scene 1.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 1 (pp. 17–25)
“If No Love Is, Oh God, What Fele I So”
Analyze Shakespeare’s characterizations of Romeo and Benvolio.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 2 (pp. 27–33)
Analyze how Shakespeare continues to develop the theme of fate in act 1, scene 2.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 3 (pp. 33–41)
Analyze Shakespeare’s characterization of the three female characters introduced in act 1, scene 3.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 4 (pp. 41–49)
Analyze Shakespeare’s characterization of Mercutio and describe his relationship with Romeo.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 5 (pp. 51–61)
Analyze Shakespeare’s characterization of Romeo.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 1, Scene 5
Explain in a well-crafted essay how Shakespeare and Luhrmann each create mood in act 1, scene 5.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 2, Scenes 1–2 (pp. 65–83)
Explain how the interactions between Romeo and Juliet develop the themes of the play.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 2, Scene 3 (pp. 83–91)
Analyze how the interactions between Romeo and Friar Lawrence develop the conflict of the play.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 2, Scene 4 (pp. 91–103)
Examine the differences between Romeo the lover and Romeo the friend.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 2, Scenes 5–6 (pp. 103–111)
Analyze how Shakespeare develops the theme of young love in act 2, scenes 5-6.
Identify instances of foreshadowing in act 2, scenes 5-6.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 3, Scene 1 (pp. 115–129)
Analyze how the events of act 3, scene 1 further communicate the theme of fate.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 3, Scene 2 (pp. 129–139)
Analyze the events of act 3, scene 2 and the impact they have on the plot development.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 3, Scene 3 (pp. 139–153)
Compare Romeo’s and Juliet’s reactions to his banishment and analyze what these reactions reveal about character and theme.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 3, Scenes 4–5 (pp. 153–173)
Analyze the connections drawn between love and death in act 3, scene 5.
Analyze Juliet’s character development in act 3, scene 5.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 4, Scenes 1–3 (pp. 177–191)
Analyze Juliet’s actions and motivations for her actions in act 4, scenes 1–3.
Analyze how Shakespeare develops the theme of young love in act 4, scenes 1-3.
Street Love — pp. 112–116
Explain how Myers draws on and transforms ideas from Romeo and Juliet to develop the themes, characters, and/or conflict of Street Love.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 4, Scenes 4–5 (pp. 195–207)
Analyze the individual characters’ reactions to Juliet’s death.
Identify how the tone shifts in act 4, scene 5.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 5, Scenes 1–2 (pp. 211–219)
Analyze how Shakespeare uses the plot to develop the theme of fate in act 5, scenes 1–2.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 5, Scene 3 (pp. 219–231)
Analyze the degree to which fate shaped the deaths of the protagonists.
Romeo and Juliet — Act 5, Scene 3 (pp. 231–243)
Develop an opinion about the significance of the final scene and its relationship to earlier scenes.
Discussion & Writing
Discuss and debate the essential thematic questions of the unit.
The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, the film version directed by Baz Luhrman, and the novel Street Love by Walter Dean Myers each contain a prologue designed to preview what is to come. Compare the choices each author makes about how to structure the prologue and the effect of these choices on the audience. Support your answer with evidence from all three sources.
An effective essay:
Select one the following pairs of characters: Mercutio and Romeo or Juliet and Lady Capulet. Write a journal entry from one member of the pair (i.e. Mercutio) in which you reflect on your relationship with the other member of the pair (i.e. Romeo). Be sure to characterize your relationship and the ways in which you are similar and different. Include specific references to the text in your journal entry.
An effective essay:
In both Street Love and Romeo and Juliet, the authors tell the story of young lovers caught between the desire to be together and family and group loyalties that are pulling them apart. Describe how Walter Dean Myers, the author of Street Love, draws on and transforms elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the excerpt read today. Your answer may include references to setting, plot, characters, mood, themes, or author’s craft.
An effective essay: