Romeo and Juliet

Students hone their literary analysis and writing skills as they read Shakespeare's iconic Romeo and Juliet in the original Early Modern English.



Unit 11

9th Grade

This unit has been archived. To view our updated curriculum, visit our 9th Grade English course.

Unit Summary

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.

Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Play: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library 2011 edition)

Supporting Materials


This assessment accompanies Unit 11 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

  1. Read and annotate the Folger edition of the play.
  2. Acquire and watch the Luhrmann version of the film.
  3. Read the novel Street Love, or at least the excerpts referenced in the unit plan.
  4. Answer the key thematic questions based on the film and play
  5. Take the end-of-unit exam.
  6. Read this explanation of Romeo as a Petrarchan lover.

Essential Questions

  • Love: What is true love? What should one sacrifice for true love? What should one never sacrifice for love? Is the love between Romeo and Juliet true love?
  • Good and evil/love and hatred: Do we need hatred (evil) in order to truly appreciate love (good)?
  • Fate: Is there such a thing as fate? If so, can a person avoid his or her fate? Is fate alone responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, or should certain characters be held responsible?
  • The motifs of light and darkness run throughout the play. How do these motifs help to develop the themes of the play?

Writing Focus Areas

English Lessons Writing Focus Areas

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:

  • Introduction and Thesis: Introduction and thesis are clear, compelling, and preview what is to come.
  • Evidence: Evidence is well chosen to develop the topic/position.
  • Analysis: Analysis reflects logical reasoning and progression of ideas.

Composition Projects 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.

  • Thesis: Includes a clear and relevant thesis statement. 
  • Analysis: Demonstrates clear and logical reasoning. 
  • Evidence: Draws relevant evidence to support position. 
  • Coherence: Structure is aligned with purpose.
  • Diction: Uses advanced and specific vocabulary. 
  • Professionally Revised: Complete and follows guidelines. Adequate revisions.


Literary Terms

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)

Idioms and Cultural References

bite my thumb (11), knaves (53), fool’s paradise (101), dirge (203)

Content Knowledge and Connections

Students will learn to read Shakespeare in its original form.

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

  • Students will need a familiarity with Shakespearean language in order to access the critical 10th grade unit 10th Grade ELA - Macbeth.

Lesson Map

Composition Projects

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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Unit 5

Gender and Power in The Taming of the Shrew

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