Today will the last day of the Romeo and Juliet unit for my freshmen. We will end it appropriately with an Insult-o-Rama, which is basically a member from each designated family, Montague vs Capulet, stepping up to the line in our market square and squaring off with insults ala Bard. You know the ones:
“Thou art an apish, lily-livered bed presser.” If that one doesn’t sting enough:
“Thou be an insolent foot-licking parasite.” These go beyond thumb-biting, and it is all in good fun. I keep my door shut just in case, as it does get a bit loud.
My focus when studying Romeo and Juliet is not so much as an introduction and exploration of Shakespeare’s famous play, it is more of an exploration and introduction to Shakespeare himself. Surprisingly, my freshmen come to class with about a teaspoonful of knowledge about him. Then again, I didn’t have any exposure to Shakespeare until I began teaching him. I had heard of him, of course, but I didn’t really believe he had much physical substance. I placed him a little bit above the Loch Ness monster in that there might be evidence of his existence, but not totally proven. After about ten years into teaching Shakespeare I believe a bit more and in fact have become a proponent of making sure my students appreciate his genius. Please, no theories on Bacon and company and “Will the real Will please stand up, please” comments. I think his plays, sonnets, and poems rock.
And so our curriculum starts with Romeo and his Juliet. I guess two teenagers who are heck-bent on breaking rules by disobeying parents, state law and such still resonates with the teens today. It makes sense, since if we started off with Macbeth they might go into spasms of cerebral overload. We start them off gently. Good call, curriculum powers that be.
Overall, we read a little, act it out a little, and watch different versions. By the end of the unit most of them can understand Shakespearean language without consulting their No Fear Shakespeare interpretations. Some students go into unattractive fits of eye-rolling and twitching at the thought that they will study Shakespeare in their sophomore and senior year. I don’t know why we skip him their junior year. American Lit studies have no room for him I guess.
There are many faces of Romeo, and both the girls and guys relate to his brash impetuosity. Who wouldn’t want to be that in love? Oh, Romeo, thou art timeless.
I leave off with some of the many faces of Romeo with his Juliet:
- Romeo & Juliet (integrated4.wordpress.com)
- Meryl Streep, 62, to Play Teen in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (hollywood.com)
- First Images from Carlo Carlei’s ROMEO AND JULIET Starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth (collider.com)
- Book Review & Giveaway: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (literallyjen.com)