Sarah Kirkpatrick teaches at McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Twelfth Night 1.3 and 2.3
What's On for Today and Why
Students will do a close character study of the characters in scenes 1.3 and 2.3. They will read a primary source about the effects of drunkenness and examine its role in the characters of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew. They will eventually discuss Shakespeare's attitudes toward alcohol.
This lesson will take two class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Twelfth Night
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Primary Source Handout
What To Do
1. Do an in-class reading of 1.3, assigning students to read aloud by page. (One person is Maria on page one, another on page two and so on.)
2. Have newsprint or large pads of paper on the wall, each one assigned a different character: Toby, Maria, and Andrew. Write on the sheets as students give you specific pieces of information they have gathered about the characters. Include the line numbers where students found the information. Repeat the reading, assigning different parts and gathering more information.
3. Ask the students what themes or similarities they find in this scene. (Be sure to note the characters' attitudes toward drinking.)
4. For homework students should read 2.3 and fill out the homework worksheet on character (see below). If you do not feel the students can handle this on their own, do a similar in-class reading on day two.
5. Take 10–15 minutes at the start of the next class to get students' responses to 2.3 and add them to the charts on the wall from the previous day. Discuss any patterns that are repeated or characteristics that are reinforced.
6. Ask what role alcohol plays in these two scenes. How important is it to the characterization? What would be different if these characters were sober?
7. Pass out the primary source document (see below) and ask students to read the different segments out loud.
8. Put students in small groups. Using the categorization handout (see below), have them explain how the characters in these scenes fit into the categories described by Thomas Heywood in 1635.
9. Ask students individually to choose a category and, in a paragraph or two, explain why one or more characters belong in that category. Be sure they use quotes from the text and the primary source to create their argument.
10. Extension: At the end of the play, revisit the idea of drunkenness and the part that it plays in Malvolio's humiliation. Is this use of alcohol meant to merely amuse? Is Shakespeare making an argument against drinking? How do these charactes end up looking to the audience as a result of their habits?
How Did It Go?
Were students able to indicate a clear understanding of the characters and the primary source? Did they use quotations from each source to construct a logical argument? Were they able to use the knowledge gained in this lesson throughout the rest of their study of the play?
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.