Maryann Jessop teaches at Lacey Township High School in Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey. Lacey's population is mainly suburban, with easy access to New York and Philadelphia. Maryann Jessop has taught for 20 years, specializing in seniors of varying abilities. She has a Masters in English Education and has completed coursework in counseling.
Jeannie Goodwin is the National Education and Festivals Coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Education Department's Webmaster.
The Taming of the Shrew, Folger Edition
What's On for Today and Why
Students will examine stereotypes of women from The Good and the Badde (a 17th century primary source) in juxtaposition with the female characters in The Taming of the Shrew. Through this exercise, students will locate evidence from the text of the play to support or refute these stereotypes. The students should have finished Act 2 by the time they begin this assignment.
This lesson will take 2 class periods to introduce, and it will be extended as independent work until the play is completed.
What You Need
Folger edition of The Taming of the Shrew
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
The attached documents: a graphic organizer and a primary source handout
The Good and the Badde p.27-30
What To Do
1. After students have reached the end of Act 2, distribute copies of the excerpt from The Good and the Badde, London, 1616. Explain that it is a 17th century primary source that describes how women were categorized during Shakespeare's time.
2. Assign students to partners. Ask the teams to read through all of the descriptions and to select one description to work with. (You might want to make sure that all the descriptions are assigned to at least one set of partners.)
3. Distribute the graphic organizer (see handout below), and model one example on the overhead or chalkboard before the pairs begin the assignment.
4. Ask students to locate lines in the first two acts of the play which support or refute a description from The Good and the Badde.
5. Show students how to write the lines under the appropriate category on the graphic organizer. Be sure to include the act, scene, and line attribution.
6. Ask the partners to work together and record the evidence on the graphic organizer for at least four citations.
7. Next, ask the pairs to present their information to the class.
8. Discuss whether or not the stereotypes fit the characters using evidence from the play.
9. As the students read Acts 3, 4, and 5, they should continue to add evidence to the graphic organizer for homework.
10. Upon completion of the play, ask students to write a character analysis using evidence from the graphic organizer.
How Did It Go?
Did the pairs complete the graphic organizer with at least four items of evidence? Was the evidence cited correctly? Were the lines copied correctly? In their oral presentation to the class, did the pairs convey a clear understanding of the stereotype and the character? Did the class engage in active discussion, at times disagreeing with one another about the interpretation of a chosen line? Did the students complete the organizer independently for Acts 3, 4, and 5? Were their written character analyses well-composed and insightful, with lots of supporting evidence from the text? Did the students write thoughtful, text-based character analyses?
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.