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Merely Players: Examining Authentic/Inauthentic Voices in Monologues. Day 2 of 3

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Thomas Sully. Portia and Shylock. Oil on canvas, 1835

May 2013

Gina Voskov teaches English at the United Nations School, New York, NY

Robert Barker teaches English at the Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, CA

Gabriel Fernandez teaches the Upward Bound Program for High School Students in San Antonio, TX


Plays/Scenes Covered

The Merchant of Venice

3.2.75 (Bassanio)

1.3.116 (Shylock)

4.1.36 (Shylock)

4.1.276 (Antonio)

3.2.153 (Portia)

4.1.190 (Portia)


What's On for Today and Why

Students will:

  • Examine a monologue, identifying where a character is using an inauthentic voice (i.e covering his/her true desires or thoughts)
  • Construct a monologue that reflects the character's true desires
  • Craft a performance piece that incorporates both the authentic and inauthentic voice.

This lesson will take 2 x 50 minute class periods.

What You Need
  • Copies of monologues from The Merchant of Venice
  • Highlighters, pencils

  • Handout: Monologue Selection

  • Handout: Model new monologue


Handout: Model new monologue
Handout: Monologue Selection
What To Do

1. Divide students into small groups (4 works well)


2. Distribute the monologues(Handout: Monologue Selection).


3. Explain that in these monologues it is possible that the characters are not being true to themselves and that their speech reflects that characters are masking their true thoughts and desires.


4. Have students do a close reading of the monologue in their groups and identify areas when there is doubt about the authenticity of what they are saying. What are they hiding? (see Handout:  Model new monologue)


5. As they read, have students annotate the text with their thoughts about what they believe the characters are really thinking.


6. After the close reading and annotation, have students create a second monolgue that reflects the character's inner thoughts and true feelings. Students may use free verse or imitate the original form of the monologue.


7. After completing their authentic voice monologue, have students weave the two monologues together. Allow students to decide how they want their new monologue to sound (Should they alternate lines? Should they alternate larger chunks? Should the authentic voice read first, last, etc?).


8. Have the students prepare to perform the new monologue the next day-all group members should have a speaking part.

How Did It Go?

Were the students able to identify passages in the monologues that indicated a character's inauthentic voice?

Were the students able to suggest or annotate the text with the authentic thoughts characters may have had but that they could not say?

Did students thoughtfully craft a monologue by weaving together the authentic and inauthentic voices, and did students thoughtfully consider style of language and placement of authentic voice within the new monologue?



This lesson could be adapted to any play in which a character needs to mask or hide some truth about him/herself

e.g. Hamlet, Othello, Twelfth Night.



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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1 Comment

Great post, thanks for sharing! C. G. Automated Gates - Iron Gates Cheshire
Hannah January 9, 2015 6:55 AM
  Common Core State Standards

RL.9-10.1, 4

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