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Lesson 11:Cutting Antony's speeches: "I am meek and gentle with these butchers"

Teachers' Rating:
  18 ratings

A. Fox after R. Westall. Julius Caesar. Act 3. Sc. 1. Engraving, 1824 (Detail)

June 2007
Simon Rodberg, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, Washington, DC.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Julius Caesar 3.1
What's On for Today and Why

This lesson will allow students to identify Mark Antony's scheming brilliance which is couched in his three major speeches in the second half of 3.1. Students will isolate the main idea by cutting the speech in half and then perform the speech chorally.


This lesson will take one to two class periods.

What You Need

Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Index cards

Cutting Text Model Handout
Speech Handout 1
Speech Handout 2
Speech Handout 3
What To Do

1. As a warm-up, ask students to imagine that they have to talk to a group of men that has just murdered one of their friends. Discuss how they would feel doing this and what they would say.


2. Explain to the students that their task is to cut speeches in half while keeping the essential meaning. Work through an example using the Cutting Text Model Handout. Note that the cut version need not be in poetic form but must retain the main idea.


3. Divide students into groups of three and distribute copies of Antony's speeches, printed on the Speech Handouts; several groups will be working on the same speech which will enrich the activity. Explain that these speeches represent Antony's reaction to Caesar's murder—the same situation that the students wrote about at the beginning of the class. Students should cut their assigned speeches and then present the speech orally .When finished, students should offer justification for their cuts.


4. Have students compare the cuts made by different groups and discuss what this indicates about Shakespeare's language; which bits did each group find important/unimportant? Why?


5. Have students write on index cards their own predictions about what will happen next in the scene and turn these exit cards in as they leave.


6. As  extension activities:

a) Have students choose one cut phrase that they would like to return to the speech and explain their choice.

b) Have students identify three phrases that Shakespeare included and suggest what they add to the speech.



How Did It Go?

Were the students able to retain the main ideas in their cut versions and ensure that their version made sense? Did the exit cards show reasonable predictions about the next scene demonstrating an understanding of Antony's character and Shakespeare's language?


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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