Author: Simon Rodberg, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, Washington, DC
Editors: Greta Brasgalla, Folger National Teacher Corps and Curriculum Specialist at El Dorado High School, El Paso, TX, and Corinne Viglietta, Assistant Director of Education at Folger Shakespeare Library
Common Core Anchor Standards: R.1, R.2, R.4, SL.1, SL.4, W.1, W.9
Text: Julius Caesar 3.1
Students will perform a close reading of Mark Antony’s monologue by cutting the text by 50%. Students will evaluate use of tone within the speech and choose appropriate tone words for the monologue. Students will perform the monologue for the class.
Time: Two 45-minute class periods
- Folger edition of Julius Caesar
- Index cards
- Cutting Text Model Handout
- 3.1.164 printout
- 3.1.209 printout
- 3.1.280 printout
What To Do
- Explain to the students that their task is to cut the monologue in half. With older students, this direction is enough to complete the exercise--and generate great conversation about what should stay and what should go. Some students might want to keep beautiful phrases, while others insists on cutting out details non-essential to the plot or “main idea.”Optional scaffolding: work through an example using the cutting text model handout. Note that in this model, which places limitations on the task, the cut version need not be in poetic form but must retain the main idea.
- Divide students into groups of three and distribute copies of Antony's monologues, printed on the speech handouts; several groups will be working on the same monologue which will enrich the activity. Students should cut their assigned monologues by 50%. Students should also include at least five tone words to show how the character would deliver lines.
- Have students read aloud their cut monologues. 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?
- Allow students ten words to return to their monologues. What words did each group choose? Why?
- Students turn in their completed cut speeches.
- On their own, students write a rationale for their decision to cut one particular line. Why did they choose to omit that line? Have them support their defense with textual evidence and good reasons.
- 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.