|In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a world of violence and generational conflict in which two young people fall in love and die because of that love. What is so striking about this play is that, despite its extraordinary setting, it has become the quintessential story of young love. Below you'll find links to resources from Folger Education that include activities, lesson plans, teaching tools, and more.|
Folger Education offers lesson plans on Shakespeare's frequently taught plays, as well as lessons on introducing Shakespeare. Try the two plans below, or, for more lesson plans for Romeo and Juliet, visit the Lesson Plans Archive.
"17th-Century Pickup Lines"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 9, 11, and 12. The lesson integrates scenes in Act 2 with a contemporary handbooks on "wooing." Students explore language and persuasion on the play.
"Figurative Language Alive"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 2, 4, 6, and 12. Students play a game called "Balcony Scene Charades" to make the language more accessible and to identify specific figures of speech.
The Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet includes facing-page notes and illustrations throughout the play; background information on the play, Shakespeare's life, theater, and times; notes on unfamiliar language, or words that meant something different in Shakespeare's day; and a scholarly assessment of the play in light of today's interests and concerns.
Shakespeare Set Free, a groundbreaking curriculum on performance-based teaching, includes a unit on teaching Romeo and Juliet.
Colorful Character Connections offer an at-a-glance map of character relationships, an introduction to the plot, and important quotes to look and listen for.
Audio and Video Resources
Listen to the Podcast
The Folger exhibition Now Thrive the Armorers: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare focused on how real-world weapons and fighting techniques influenced many of Shakespeare’s plays, including Romeo and Juliet.
This short video demonstrates performance-based teaching and helps students engage with and interpret a play's text, often with some very imaginative results.
Armor and weapons expert Jeffrey Forgeng explains Elizabethan streetfighting in the time of Romeo and Juliet.
For many students today, reading Shakespeare's language can be a challenge. Things to pay attention to in Romeo and Juliet:
In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare often uses words to build a world that has its own space and time. The language of love poetry, popularized throughout Europe by the Italian poet Petrarch, is a means through which characters shape their world.
- poetic language
- unfamiliar word order
- words whose meanings have changed
Shakespeare frequently shifts his sentences away from "normal" English arrangements. Often this is done to create a certain speech rhythm, or to give a particular character a unique speech pattern. Look first for the placement of subject and verb; Shakespeare often places the verb before the subject. Shakespeare also frequently separates words that normally appear together.
Many words used in Romeo and Juliet are still used today, but with different meanings. For example, "heavy" means sorrowful, "sadly" means seriously, and "happy" is used when we might say "fortunate."
About the Play
Romeo and Juliet was printed in a variety of forms between its earliest appearance in 1597 and its inclusion in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in 1623.
To learn more, explore our Discover Shakespeare online resource, including the sections highlighted at right.
From the Collection
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
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Folger Digital Texts:
Romeo and Juliet
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