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"A rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear:" original line or familiar find?

Teachers' Rating:
  19 ratings

John Gough. The academy of complements. London, 1684.

September 2004
Gina Savino teaches English at Smithtown High School in Smithtown, NY.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Romeo and Juliet 1.5.51-60
What's On for Today and Why

Today students will examine a primary source document from 1684 that includes many of the same lines found in Romeo's speech to Juliet in 1.5. Students will compare the texts and discuss the different conception of authorship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


This lesson will take one class period.

What You Need

Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Original line or familiar find?
Primary Source: Gough's Academy of Complements
What To Do
1. Have students read aloud Romeo's speech in 1.5, lines 51-60.

2. Hand out the attached worksheet and ask students to answer question 1, identifying the similes Romeo uses to describe Juliet.

3. Next, hand out the attached primary source document: a poem from John Gough's The Academy of Complements, a book first published in 1639 and revised several times before this version was published in 1684.

4. Have students read aloud the poem "Encomiums on the Beauty of His Mistress". Then ask students to answer question 2 on their worksheet, finding similarities and differences with Romeo's speech.

5. Discuss the students' responses to questions 1 and 2. Now ask them to answer question 3, drawing conclusions about the role of writing and authorship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

6. To conclude, discuss students' responses to this last question. Students may be interested to learn that plagiarism is a modern concept.

How Did It Go?
Were students able to identify and compare the role of simile and metaphor in the poems? Were they able to find other similarities between the two poems? Did learning about early modern ideas of authorship help them understand and articulate the true sources of Shakespeare's talent?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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