Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teaching Modules
Teaching Modules Archive

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Examining redemption in Fences and King Lear

Teachers' Rating:
  1 rating

George Romney. Drawings and sketches. Drawing, late 18th century

March 2009
Mark Miazga teaches English at Baltimore City College High School in Baltimore, MD.

Plays/Scenes Covered
King Lear and Fences (August Wilson)
What's On for Today and Why

Students will investigate and perform the final scenes of King Lear and Fences to analyze how the authors use the tragic characters’ demises to convey a certain view of the world. Students will use performance choices to convey meaning to compare two tragedies in order to see how interpretation of scenes leads to differing meanings.

What You Need

What To Do
  1. Review concepts of Tragedy, including Tragic Heroes and Tragic Flaws, using this link  if necessary:
  2. Complete a Venn Diagram on the board comparing and contrasting Troy Maxson and Lear as Tragic Figures. Students should be able to point out that:

            both characters make mistakes with their children

            both characters push away those who love him most

            both characters carry a lot of moral ambiguity

            both characters are not completely sane at all times

            both characters meet their tragic fate as a result of a tragic flaw



Also point out their differences (Troy’s societal pressures of being a pre-Civil Rights Movement Black man, Troy’s infidelity also leads to his doom, Troy’s flaw is overprotection of his son, while Lear’s is engaging in the flattery contest).

  1. Have students read  the last scene of King Lear  as a class, emphasizing the edited stage directions. Discuss possible interpretations of the last scene. Does Lear gain redemption, or is the play’s ending too dark for that?
  2. Have stydents read Troy Maxson’s death scene in Fences. Wilson’s portrayal of Troy’s death is clearer: he wants his audience to know that Troy has attained redemption. But, what would happen if he didn’t? What would Troy’s last scene have looked like? It happens off-stage, leading to alternate possibilities of interpretation than what Rose gives us in the last scene.
  3. Have students form four acting companies:
    • Acting Company 1: Lear as a play of Redemption (somewhat happy ending – Lear is going to heaven to be with Cordelia)
    • Acting Company 2: Lear as a play of Defeat (really dark ending – Lear is dying and, if there is a God, he hates Lear)
    • Acting Company 3: Fences as a play of Redemption (Troy has made peace with all his demons and his final scene is redemptive)
    • Acting Company 4: Fences as a play of Defeat (instead of redemption, Troy gets only defeat – students here will have to discount the evidence in the play’s final scene).
  4. Have students create an interpretation of their scene based on the above criteria.
  5. Have students present to class and discuss how performance interpretations altered the meaning of the last scene and thus the theme of the play. What acting choices were made and how did they convey meaning?

Final assessment: Students will write a short essay explaining both Shakespeare’s and Wilson’s views on the world according to how their tragic characters met their fates at the end of their respective plays, defending their explanation by focusing on how the final scenes could be performed for each character.

How Did It Go?
Did students engage in thoughtful discussion and varied interpretative performances? Did students analyze both Shakespeare’s and Wilson’s views and defend his/her interpretation with evidence from performance?

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.

Login or register to post comments.

19 CommentsOldest | Newest

Friv 4 School Games – friv4school – Games For Kids Free Online. http://friv4schoolonline.net/games-kings-troubles.html Play right at now
Friv4 November 12, 2014 4:45 AM

This was the best website with lot useful information for the reader. Thanks for shring the post and keep the good works. You are the best, god bless you. Read our traveling blog : Bali Tour, Bali Tours, Bali Tour Driver, Bali Day Tours, Best Bali Tour, Bali Full Day Tour, Bali Half Day Tour, Bali Combination Tour, Bali Adventure Tour, Bali Car Charter, Bali Driver, Bali Day Tour
Wayan November 10, 2014 4:39 PM

Great material, I'm impressed I get fantastic help with writing essays from you.
Denis November 3, 2014 8:34 AM

Discover the F1 Driving , Professional drivers in Europe. Découvrez des stage pilotage et stage de pilotage sur divers circuits d'Europe. Découvrez le meilleur perry October 28, 2014 4:56 AM

I am sure this session will be good enough for
uk essay writing service and students
daniel October 20, 2014 6:48 AM

Your lessons are always helpful when I work on essays about Shakespeare at my essay writing service. Thank you!
kiara October 16, 2014 10:15 AM

Funeral Flower Arrangements Cheap Funeral Flower Funeral Flowers Delivered
Traci October 7, 2014 2:39 AM

Ginseng Rh2 merupakan Obat Kanker Payudara yang aman dan ampuh
Alvi September 26, 2014 2:40 AM

Obat Herbal Kanker payudara http://obatherbalskanker.blogspot.com
Alvi September 26, 2014 2:39 AM

Great lesson! I write a work about Shakespeare for a
college essay writing service and this site is very helpful.
Denis September 5, 2014 8:42 AM

View More
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
Additional Information

Note to Mozilla Firefox Users: If the PDF documents are freezing, please try the following fix: Go to Tools. Under Options click the Applications icon. Under Content Type, find Adobe Acrobat Document. Select Use Adobe Reader. If the option already says Use Adobe Reader, try changing the option to Use Adobe Acrobat.

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623