Freshman Unit: Romeo and Juliet


Why study Romeo and Juliet? • Because I have to; it’s one of the few required texts • It’s widely accepted as a classic • It’s an excellent way to show the development of the English language

What makes a study of Romeo and Juliet universal? • Its excellent examples of literary techniques and language use can be compared to the same techniques used in other works • Students can relate to having conflicting loyalties • The study of Romeo and Juliet as a dramatic piece allows students to transfer understanding to examination of other plays

What’s the Big Idea implied in the skill or process of reading Romeo and Juliet? • Really big: Literature reflects life • More focused: As a tragedy, R&J is ultimately about failure; the protagonists encounter conflicts that they are unable to resolve successfully. It is the story of causes and effects of failure on a grand scale. <-- Check over this, please; I’m not really answering about the skill or process, more about the theme, really, but I’m not sure how to answer it otherwise.

What larger, concept, issue, or problem underlies a study of Romeo and Juliet? • There are different types of love • There are usually many contributing causes to failure • Being forced to “pick sides” can be disastrous • Three cultures: Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, and modern America. In what ways does the play successfully “translate?” In what ways does it not? <-- Should I narrow this down?

What couldn’t we do if we didn’t understand Romeo and Juliet? • Ok, here I’m totally stuck. Honestly? Most of this we can learn elsewhere. Help!

How is Romeo and Juliet used and applied in the larger world? • Unless you’ve been raised by wolves, you can’t escape the allusions – artists of all sorts use references to make themselves look smart and their audiences feel smart • helps people understand England of that period

What is a real-world insight about Romeo and Juliet? • Succeeding at something difficult feels really good.

What is the value of studying Romeo and Juliet? • Students learn how our language changed over time, how the careful use of words and phrases can create the effect intended, and examine and judge their own attitudes toward success, failure and social relationships.

Essential Questions

• How can literature help us understand ourselves and our environment?
• How can literature help us understand its author and its audience?
• Why don’t people simply say exactly what they mean?
• Why is it important to choose and arrange words carefully?
• What are the causes and consequences of failure, and how can people deal with them effectively?

This was really hard for me. I felt like a lot of the questions overlapped; I was trying to say too many different things in too many different ways. While I think I’ve gotten a better picture of what I value in this play, I’m not sure I’ve focused as much as I’m supposed to.

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