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"Here's much to do with hate, but more with love": The Prologue in Romeo and Juliet



Teachers' Rating:
  72 ratings


Terence. Comoediae. Strasbourg, 1496.

 
October 2004
 
Heidi Beehler teaches English at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY.
 

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

Part of the fun of teaching Romeo and Juliet is letting students see how the play is about much more than romantic love. In this lesson, students will work in pairs on a guided close reading of the prologue. Once students understand how the prologue functions in the play, they will try writing a prologue sonnet to another piece of literature they have read.

 

This lesson should precede the students' reading of the play and will take one class period. It's helpful if the students have previously studied the sonnet form. You might want to try the Folger lesson Fun with Sonnets .

 

For Heidi Beehler's full unit plan on the history and form of the sonnet, click here


 
What You Need

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


Documents:
Handout: Prologue of Romeo and Juliet
 
 
What To Do
1. Read the prologue aloud, changing speakers at the end of each line. Remind the students of the basic sonnet form and address any vocabulary questions.

2. Divide students into pairs and give each student a copy of the Prologue handout below. Assign each student a task. One student should underline any words that have to do with love while the other underlines words that refer to fighting. (If possible, have students underline references to love in one color, and fighting in another.) Then, have the students discuss: Are there more words about love or fighting? Why do they think that is?

3. Reconvene the class and project the prologue text on an overhead. With your students' guidance, mark the words that have to do with love and those that have to do with fighting. (Again, color-coding the references will help emphasize the point that Shakespeare's prologue about star-crossed lovers has far more words about fighting than about love.) What do the students make of the emphasis on violence? How does this alter their expectations for the play?

4. Now, circle every example of the word "two" in the prologue. Why is this word--the very first word of the play--so important here? Help your students to see the importance of pairs in love and battle.

5. For homework, ask students to write their own prologue, in sonnet form, for another piece of literature they have read for your class.
 
How Did It Go?
Did the students find all the words and phrases that were either direct or indirect references to love and fighting? Were their findings consistent with their expectations, or were they contradictory? Did the pairs discuss the word "two" before you introduced it into the dialogue? Finally, did the students demonstrate an understanding of the sonnet form in their prologue assignments?
 


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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