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Teaching Romeo and Juliet

Resources from Folger Education

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a world of violence and generational conflict in which two young people fall in love and die because of that love. What is so striking about this play is that, despite its extraordinary setting, it has become the quintessential story of young love. Below you'll find links to resources from Folger Education that include activities, teaching tools, and more.

Teaching Modules

Folger Education offers teaching modules on Shakespeare's frequently taught plays, as well as modules on introducing Shakespeare. Try the modules below, or, for more modules for Romeo and Juliet, visit the Teaching Modules Archive.

"17th-Century Pickup Lines"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 9, 11, and 12. The lesson integrates scenes in Act 2 with a contemporary handbooks on "wooing." Students explore language and persuasion on the play.

"Figurative Language Alive"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 2, 4, 6, and 12. Students play a game called "Balcony Scene Charades" to make the language more accessible and to identify specific figures of speech.

Teaching Tools

The Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet includes facing-page notes and illustrations throughout the play; background information on the play, Shakespeare's life, theater, and times; notes on unfamiliar language, or words that meant something different in Shakespeare's day; and a scholarly assessment of the play in light of today's interests and concerns.

Request a desk copy of this edition from Simon & Schuster


Curriculum Guides lay out everything you need to teach this play for the first time: an introduction to the play, character connections, synopsis, teaching modules, suggested scenes for performance, fun facts, and familiar quotes.

Shakespeare Set Free , a groundbreaking curriculum on performance-based teaching, includes a unit on teaching Hamlet.


Other Resources


Colorful Character Connections offer an at-a-glance map of character relationships, an introduction to the plot, and important quotes to look and listen for.


Archived study guides from past Folger Theatre performances provide activities and discussion questions for students to consider before seeing a performance or as they rehearse scenes from this play.

Audio and Video Resources

Seeing Shakespeare performed, or performing Shakespeare, can help students feel confident reading and understanding Shakespeare's language. To see performance-based education strategies for your classroom, check out our clips on YouTube here.

Listen to the Podcast

The Folger exhibition Now Thrive the Armorers: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare focused on how real-world weapons and fighting techniques influenced many of Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet.

Occupation Romeo
This short video demonstrates performance-based teaching and helps students engage with and interpret a play's text, often with some very imaginative results.

Elizabethan Streetfighting
Armor and weapons expert Jeffrey Forgeng explains Elizabethan streetfighting in the time of Romeo and Juliet.


For many students today, reading Shakespeare's language can be a challenge. Things to pay attention to in Romeo and Juliet:
  • poetic language
  • unfamiliar word order
  • words whose meanings have changed
In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare often uses words to build a world that has its own space and time. The language of love poetry, popularized throughout Europe by the Italian poet Petrarch, is a means through which characters shape their world.

Shakespeare frequently shifts his sentences away from "normal" English arrangements. Often this is done to create a certain speech rhythm, or to give a particular character a unique speech pattern. Look first for the placement of subject and verb; Shakespeare often places the verb before the subject. Shakespeare also frequently separates words that normally appear together.

Many words used in Romeo and Juliet are still used today, but with different meanings. For example, "heavy" means sorrowful, "sadly" means seriously, and "happy" is used when we might say "fortunate."

About the Play

Romeo and Juliet was printed in a variety of forms between its earliest appearance in 1597 and its inclusion in the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, printed in 1623.

To learn more, explore our Discover Shakespeare online resource, including the sections highlighted at right.
Romeo and Juliet

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Curriculum Guide

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