Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
Before we can begin reading the Romeo and Juliet, it is important to understand the culture and context
of the play. There are seven areas of knowledge that are relevant to the story. These areas are:
1. Biography of William Shakespeare 5. Class Systems and Agency
2. The Theatre 6. Impact on Language
3. A Look at History 7. Characteristics of a Shakespearean
4. Gender and Life during the Renaissance Tragedy
This assignment is designed to give you a cursory knowledge and understanding of what life was like
when this play was written and performed?
This assignment will involve
working in groups.
The final project is due:__________________________________.
Part 1: Research
Students will be broken in to seven groups.
Each team will be assigned one of the topics above.
Groups will complete the worksheet answering all questions and addressing all topics for the
group‟s area. This will require groups to research and answer the given topics and areas as well
as cross reference answers with two to three different sources.
These topics or questions can be broken up within the team, and/or team members may work
together. If they are broken up, turn in one sheet answered with who answered what questions.
After answering all questions and covering all topics, members should discuss any interesting
facts and questions that they have about the topic or the websites.
Students need to acquire visual representations that represent all the topics they were assigned to
cover for their area.
Part 2: Teaching
Each group will prepare a five to six minute presentation of the material that will be used to teach
the class about the particular subject.
The mode for presenting information is:
Poster Board/Butcher Paper Visual Aide
The lesson will be graded on the following:
Use of all Group Members
Appeal of Visual Aide
Use of Time
Use of “Ums” (the more ums you have the less prepared you are)
Coverage of Topic-adequate amount of information for each topic in the area
Part 3: Visual Representation
Visual Aide should have little writing on it.
On the provided poster board/butcher paper, creatively display the following:
o Title of your group‟s area
o Titles for each topic
o Pictures, Comics, Symbols, Drawings,
o Small amount of Bulleted Information
o Group member‟s names neatly written on back
o List of websites used neatly written on back
This will be graded on the following
Part 4: Completed Set of Notes/Questions
Each student is required to take notes on the six OTHER areas.
A worksheet with area questions will be provided and will cover ALL seven areas.
As you move from group to group take notes and answer the provided questions. All the
questions will be covered in the group‟s presentation.
Part 5: Evaluation
Each group member will complete an evaluation on each member of the group. This will be used
as an individual grade and will include a self-evaluation piece
Research Worksheet: 30 points, group grade
Presentation: 40 points, individual grade
Visual Representation: 40 points, group grade
Notes: 15 points, individual grade
Evaluation: 25 points, individual grade
Works Cited (on back of poster): 10 points, group grade
Total points for project: 160
Area 1: Biography of William Shakespeare
Directions: Research William Shakespeare, and answer the following questions. After you have
answered the questions, transform the information into a visual representation to present to the
class. Remember the questions are a guideline, so feel free to expand on the information
For the Biography, pretend you are going to write a book about his life. Include personal life
professional life, important events, family, influences, travel, and any topics of controversy
surrounding his life.
1. What is he often called and how do we know things about him?
2. When was he born? Where was he born? What is significant about this date?
3. What year was Romeo and Juliet most likely performed?
4. When did Shakespeare begin writing? What kinds or works did he write?
5. What else did Shakespeare publish?
6. Where are the different Places he lived? What did he study?
7. How did Shakespeare get involved in the theater?
8. What theatric group did Shakespeare belong to? Why was it called this?
9. When was Shakespeare married? To Who? Did they have any Children?
10. How and when did he die?
11. What are the lost years, and why are these fascinating?
12. Were his plays famous in his time?
Area 2: The Theatre
Directions: Research the Renaissance Theatre, and answer the following questions. After you
have answered the questions, transform the information into a visual representation to present to
the class. Remember the questions are a guideline, so feel free to expand on the information
For the Theater, please include, but not limited to: The Globe Theater, Information about
costuming, props, actors, and the set.
1. When was England‟s first theater built and who built it?
2. What is interesting or different about the Elizabethan theater compared to other forms of entertainment?
3. In 1599 Shakespeare became part owner of what theater? Describe the architecture and ambiance of the
4. What role did women play in the theater during this time period? What about female Characters? Who
would have played Juliet, and why?
5. What is the Globe Theatre? What happened to it?
6. In the audience, who sat where and why? What was the audience‟s role?
7. What types of props did they use? What types of costumes did they have?
8. Which plays are most famously performed?
9. What is bear bating? Why is this significant to the time?
10. What were some of the difficulties when staging these plays?
Area 3: A Look at History
Directions: Research the time period of the Renaissance, and answer the following questions.
After you have answered the questions, transform the information into a visual representation to
present to the class. Remember the questions are a guideline, so feel free to expand on the
For a look at History, image your creating a collage of information from the time period. Include
the Renaissance, why it occurred, what it represents, what else is going on around the world, who
1. What is the definition of the word „Renaissance‟? Why is this time period called the Renaissance?
2. What dates constitute the Renaissance?
3. What was going on in Britain during the time just before, during and just after Shakespeare
4. What events or people helped to cause the Renaissance to occur?
5. Who were the rulers? What was the political atmosphere?
6. What resulted from the Renaissance?
7. What new things or inventions were created during this time?
8. What was the mind set of the people of England during this time? What kinds of thoughts were they
moving away from, and into what other ways of thinking?
9. What was going on in the rest of the world (besides Britain) during this period?
10. What events are most significant or are used to represent the time period and why?
Area 4: Gender and Life
Directions: Research the life that both genders lived during this time, and answer the following
questions. After you have answered the questions transform the information into a visual
representation to present to the class. Remember the questions are a guideline, so feel free to
expand on the information found.
For the Gender and Life, consider what your life would be like during this time. How is this
different from today? How would life be different if you were the other gender?
1. What are the main differences between men and women at this time? What were men allowed to do?
What are women not allowed to do?
2. Describe the marriage practices during this time? Were you allowed to pick?
3. How young were people married? Why were they married?
4. What did men do on a day to day basis?
5. What did women do on a day to day basis?
6. What rights did women NOT have?
7. What characteristics were common of women, and how „should‟ a woman act?
8. What characteristics were common of men, and how „should‟ a man act?
9. What types of jobs did both genders have, and how do the activities reflect their gender?
10. In a romance what was expected from each gender? How should a man and a woman act in a
11. What does it mean to „woo‟ during this time?
12. What does it mean to „dote‟ during this time?
Area 5: Class System and Agency
Directions: Research the class system that was in place during Shakespeare’s time. Consider how
your class or rank correlates to the amount of agency that one has? After you have answered the
questions transform the information into a visual representation to present to the class.
Remember the questions are a guideline, so feel free to expand on the information found.
For the class system and agency area, consider what your life would be like if you were royalty.
How would this compare if you were a peasant? Is there a rank difference between a man and a
woman’s rank? What does your class have to do with what you can do or the choices you can
1. Describe the class system that was in place during Shakespeare‟s time. What are the ranks and who falls
into each of them?
2. Who is at the top and who is at the bottom of society?
3. What are the differences between ranks? How are you placed into your class?
4. Who has power in this time? Who or what do they have power over?
5. When comparing power between men and women who has more and why? Does this depend on where
they fall in the class system?
6. What is AGENCY? What is the definition? How does this relate to the time period?
7. What type of people have agency?
8. Further explain the relationship between agency and power?
9. Can a person change their agency? How does their position relate to their agency?
10. What does agency enable people to be able to do?
Area 6: Impact on Language
Directions: Research the impact that Shakespeare had on language. Consider what elements of
language he added to his plays and the effects they had. After you have answered the questions
transform the information into a visual representation to present to the class. Remember the
questions are a guideline, so feel free to expand on the information found.
For the class system and agency area, consider what your life would be like if you were royalty.
Consider how this language compares with the language of today. How would this compare if
you were a peasant? Is there a rank difference between a man and a woman’s rank? What does
your class have to do with what you can do or the choices you can make?
1. What did Shakespeare do for the English language?
2. What are some of the words and phrases he invented?
3. What is blank verse?
4. What is a pun, and how it is used in Shakespeare‟s plays?
5. What is allusion and what did Shakespeare often allude to?
6. How is Shakespeare language different than the English we speak today? How can we read it better?
7. Define a monologue?
8. What is an aside?
9. Define a Soliloquy? How do these function in Shakespeare‟s Romeo and Juliet?
10. What are stage directions and how should we interpret them?
Area 7: The Characteristics of a Shakespearean Tragedy
Directions: Research what the characteristics of tragedy, while considering what the significant
elements of this genre are. After you have answered the questions, transform the information
into a visual representation to present to the class. Remember the questions are a guideline, so
feel free to expand on the information discovered.
For the genre of a tragedy, consider what plot, and character types. How does death fit in to a
typical tragedy? Consider how this type of genre is represented today, and why this might be
Shakespeare most famous and read genre.
1. What is the definition of a tragedy?
2. What are the common themes in tragedies?
3. Why do you think this is the most well read and performed Shakespeare genre?
4. What is Dramatic Irony?
5. What is a foil?
6. What is the definition of revenge? How does this relate to the genre?
7. What is the definition of a tragic hero? Who do you think this might be in the play?
8. What happens is always involved at the end of a tragedy, and to whom?
9. What is the definition of comic relief? Why is this needed in a tragedy?
10. What is the definition of conflict? How does this element function in a tragedy?
11. What is paranormal? What is fate? What is Fortune? What is Chance? How do these fall into place in a
tragedy, especially in a Shakespearean tragedy?